Chance Encounter

The finest mentors have a rare combination of talents. They possess not only a penetrating vision for what students can become but also a mastery that allows their mentees to comprehend, achieve and even transcend that vision. 

Dr. Harshini de Silva embodied these virtues: so does Dr. Chance Lewis, the 2016 winner of the award that carries her name. The Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award was established in 2001 in memory of Dr. de Silva and is annually presented to a faculty member who best exemplifies Dr. de Silva’s professional development of graduate students. Dr. Lewis was surrounded by family and colleagues at the award presentation.

Lewis is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Urban Education and executive director of the Urban Education Collaborative. Lewis has been an invaluable member of the UNC Charlotte community since arriving on campus in 2011. His efforts to enrich the student experience have been central to his impact during that time. 

Lewis heads the Urban Education concentration of the College of Education’s Ph.D. program in curriculum and instruction. He also created and leads the Urban Education Doctoral Fellows Program, which provides intensive mentoring to doctoral students. Through the program, Lewis shows students how to navigate the tenure and promotion process and to develop their own unique scholarly agendas.

“Dr. Lewis fosters the development of a supportive and collegial atmosphere that helps us feel cared for and gives us a sense of place and belonging,” remarked one student, “Doctoral studies can be stressful but the support we feel from Dr. Lewis and among one another helps us get through difficult times.”

Lewis’s status as an internationally recognized scholar in the field lends gravity to his teaching and mentorship. He has more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed books and journals and has earned more than $1 million in external grant funding. Lewis is founder and director of the International Conference on Urban Education, and has served on the editorial board of more than a dozen national journals.