Melanie Hart won the Texas Tech Parents Association’s Faculty Distinguished Leadership Award.
Melanie Hart has always been enthusiastic about education. As a lifelong student herself, she relishes those moments when it “clicks” for her students and she sees newfound comprehension dawn on their faces.
That, she says, is when she knows she has made a difference in their lives.
It's just part of the reason Hart, a professor in Texas Tech University's Department of Kinesiology & Sport Management, got involved with eLearning & Academic Partnerships – because it provides expanded educational opportunities for people of all ages across the state and around the world.
As vice provost for eLearning & Academic Partnerships since 2014, Hart oversees the regional teaching sites at Austin College, Collin, El Paso, Fredericksburg, Highland Lakes, Hill College, Rockwall, Waco and the Center at Junction; the program compliance and quality for more than 80 fully online degrees, certifications and certification preparation programs; continuing and professional education; TTU K-12, a state-approved online kindergarten through 12th-grade school; and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a unique educational program designed for adults ages 50 and over.
Under Hart's leadership, eLearning & Academic Partnerships has achieved a number of highlights. In recent months, Texas Tech was named both best Online College in Texas and the best Hispanic-Serving Online University in Texas. In January, U.S. News & World Report recognized Texas Tech's online programs as among the best in the nation. The overwhelming success of eLearning was more evident in educating even greater numbers over the last year, when traditional schools closed in response to COVID-19.
Hart's dedication to ensuring excellence throughout the diverse, wide-reaching division is why she was chosen for the Texas Tech Parents Association's 2021 Faculty Distinguished Leadership Award.
Can you describe your research and its impact, both in academics and society?
Factors that influence motor skill (re)learning. These factors can impact the learning of motor skills in the most efficient manner. This is extremely important in therapy settings.
What projects are you working on at this time?
None. Most of my time is spent working with eLearning.
What areas are you interested in for future research?
Best practices in teaching using multiple modalities and technology.
What rewards do you get from teaching?
I love teaching. I love seeing the students' faces light up when they understand a concept. That's when I feel I make the most difference.
What motivated you to pursue a career in academia?
I have always wanted to be a teacher, but I also love learning new things. Pursuing a career in higher education allows me to do both and get paid for it.
How has Texas Tech helped you advance your research and teaching?
My higher education career started at Texas Tech as a graduate student working on my master's degree. I was allowed to teach and conduct research. I learned a lot from that experience. Coming back to Texas Tech as a faculty member has been very rewarding. The emphasis on the student is one of the most important aspects of being at Texas Tech.
Who has had the biggest impact on you and your career, and why?
That is hard to say; I have had so many role models and mentors. I guess I would start with my undergraduate advisers, specifically Dr. Margaret Wilson, who was the first person to ask me when I was going to get my doctoral degree. After that, I went to Auburn University to receive my doctorate from Dr. Gil Reeve, who later became the department chair at Texas Tech. He is the person who hired me. Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec had a huge impact on my administrative career by naming me interim department chair, associate dean and vice provost.