A Stamp of Excellence



Recently, each student in the IMC program received an email requesting that we nominate a faculty member for the Alexia Vanides IMC Teaching Award.

Ok, no big deal. A simple superlative to recognize a deserving faculty member. With a little research, an email to last year’s recipient and after watching a video from Chad Mezera explaining the meaning behind the award, I learned that this award is far beyond a simple superlative for an IMC faculty member. In fact, it means so much more to the program than I originally credited.

Alexia Vanides, whom the award is named after, was an instructor of the IMC program that was really a shining example of providing her students with an exceptional course experience. Along with being an instructor in the program, Vanides managed the marketing communications for Fortune 500 companies, such as Hughes and Varian Associates and also ran her own marketing consultancy for 20 years. She taught IMC 616: Direct Marketing and IMC 626: B to B Direct Marketing.

“I took both of her classes and became infused with the effectiveness of direct response as an essential component in the IMC tool box. That’s what great professors do, isn’t it?” said Maureen Ryan, a 2010 IMC Graduate.

In January 2011, Prof. Vanides passed away leaving a legacy of excellence in education. The IMC program remembers the exceptional work of Vanides by polling students each year to select a professor to win this award.

I had the opportunity to reach out to Mike Kohler, IMC instructor for IMC 633 and IMC 637, who was the 2015 recipient of the Alexia Vanides IMC Teaching Award.


Here’s what Prof. Kohler had to say:

What was your reaction when you were selected for the Alexia Vanides IMC Teaching Award?

When I was notified that I was a nominee, of course the thought crossed my mind that I’d better be prepared for actually being honored. But, as I’ve now discovered, prepping yourself mentally doesn’t really cut it. When I heard my name announced, I was stunned. I guess it told me that you can prepare words and thoughts, but you can’t really prepare emotions. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

What does winning this award mean to you as an instructor?

Earning the Alexia Vanides Award validated that I was correct to follow my passion and to always have teaching as part of my life. In both my corporate career and in business ownership, I’ve always had adjunct teaching as a piece of my life puzzle. I guess this award means I won’t let go of it. Ultimately, I’ll have to make sure the retirement home has strong Wi-Fi!

What is your teaching philosophy and how do you approach your IMC courses?

I’ve had my teaching philosophy documented for a long time. “Through my teaching, students will have fun and learn a lot … and I will have fun and learn a lot.” This program is a perfect match for me.

Who or what has inspired you to be an instructor in the IMC Program?

Chad Mezera inspired me to join the program and deliver my best work. Does that count as sucking up? Well, anyway, what struck me about my first association with Chad was the businesslike manner in which he runs this program. As a lifelong practitioner, not an academic, I was impressed by Chad’s seriousness about the business model of the program, including the #1 priority – deliver quality instruction to high-caliber students.

What elements do you feel make an exceptional IMC instructor?

What makes an exceptional IMC instructor is genuine engagement with students who are bringing diverse perspectives from all walks of life. I admire our admissions standards in this program because we’re blessed with students ranging from big corporations to small town nonprofits. That gives IMC instructors the opportunity to act as symphony conductors in facilitating group interactions.

What advice has had the biggest impact on your success?

I learned something the first time I stepped into a classroom full of college seniors and grads years ago. At that time, I thought my business reputation in the community was worth something. Wrong! The body language alone told me “We are tuition payers … give us something we can use.” So I’d say that a big impact for me has been to recognize that we can learn, sharpen, and grow right along with the students. Every class I teach arms me with tools and knowledge that carry forward to other students.


So I encourage all of my fellow IMC classmates to take five minutes out of your busy day to nominate the instructor who has had the greatest impact on your time in the program!

It’s a one question nomination and available online at: https://wvuimc.wufoo.com/forms/qczkprz05p9tmu/

As you can see from Prof. Kohler’s comments above, it means a great deal to the deserving faculty member recipient… and your IMC program!


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