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Honors Tutorial College

Staff Spotlight: Dr. Chris Lewis Leads Office of Nationally Competitive Awards

Georgia Curran | Oct 15, 2018

At the beginning of fall semester, Ohio University welcomed Dr. Chris Lewis as the director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (ONCA).

ONCA provides Ohio University students with resources and guidance as they apply for world-renowned and selective scholarships and fellowships. As director, Lewis will work to help students write compelling award applications, which can lead them to the funding, opportunities, and connections they need to achieve their goals.

“Nationally competitive awards lead to intercultural exchange and learning and helpful professional and academic networks for students,” Lewis said. “Putting an award application together gives students the opportunity to reflect on and write about their academic histories. It also prompts students to envision and articulate possible future paths for themselves.”

His aim is to make ONCA and its resources accessible to all high-promise Ohio University students. To achieve this, he plans to build relationships with different departments, offices, and student groups across campus.

“I want to help students understand success as a long-term process,” Lewis said. “Success requires a lot of work, revision, and the ability to advocate for yourself, to pursue opportunities even when the odds are slim.”

He added that having a supportive group of peers, faculty, and staff is also crucial for student success when it comes to national awards, so he hopes to aid in creating a sense of community among applicants and their mentors. He also plans to use his background as an English professor and writer to help students write about their educational journeys and their goals in award applications.

Lewis brings an abundance of experience from previous roles as an English professor at Franklin & Marshall College and Western Kentucky University. His specialty is U.S. literature, and he has taught classes and conducts research on African American literature and queer studies.

Lewis said that he loves the classroom setting, but that in this position he is looking forward to helping students pursue their own goals rather than goals that are predetermined by course curricula.

“It’s exciting because in this position…I’m not imposing any expectations on students as to what their goals should be or what they should pursue,” he said. “I’m providing students with an opportunity to articulate their own goals and then seeing what I can do to help them get there.”

Lewis said that, over the past nine years, he has visited Athens and Ohio University several times to visit his partner, Micah McCarey, who is Assistant Director for East Green and Diversity Initiatives in Housing and Residence Life. Moving in permanently, Lewis said, was an exciting experience, since he began his position at the same time new students were returning to campus for the year.

“I’m really inspired by the energy in the air with so many new students, new possibilities, new ideas and new opportunities,” he said. “I have visited Athens and Ohio University many times, but this is my first time working to help students succeed and to foster important relationships across the university that can help them do so.”

Students interested in meeting to discuss award opportunities—and academic departments, offices, and student groups interested in learning more about how ONCA can support them—should email Lewis directly at

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