Dr. Mike Lawson, a member of the Biology Department faculty, has been selected to receive the 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

The annual award is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each of Missouri’s four-year higher-education institutions. At Missouri Southern, nominations are brought forward and discussed by the Dean’s Council, which then selects the recipient.

Dr. Mike Lawson

Dr. Mike Lawson

The courses Lawson teaches include microbiology, anatomy and physiology and principles of biology.

“The courses that he teaches here are notoriously hard and students know they’re hard, but Mike’s classes are the first ones to close because they want him,” said Dr. Jennifer Dennis, head of the Biology Department. “The reason why is the record he has. It’s hard, but students learn and retain the material. When you see the student evaluations, they all say that they learned so much.

“The biggest class he teaches is microbiology, and he teaches it at a graduate level. The class is difficult and he’s intense, but he really does care. Students fight to get into his class.”

Dennis said Lawson is known for his dedication to working with area high-school teachers and students on science fair and independent projects.

“There are teachers that had Mike in college and know that they can call him and he will be a resource,” she said.

Before coming to Missouri Southern 23 years ago, Lawson spent 19 years teaching high-school science in the Golden City, Sarcoxie and Carl Junction school districts.

He said he made the transition to teach at the college level in part for the chance to work with students who wanted to teach science.

“I love seeing that light bulb light up when students understand something … when they make that connection, assimilate concepts and understand the true meaning of what we’re talking about,” said Lawson. “Those are the kind of things that excite me about my students.”

He said that he was surprised and honored to learn that he was the 2014 recipient of the award.

“There’s certainly a lot of very deserving and excellent faculty here on this campus,” he said. “To be honored like this has been very flattering, and I’m especially honored to have been nominated for this by some of my colleagues. That makes it more special.”

Lawson and other award recipients from around the state will be recognized during a luncheon this spring in Columbia, Mo.