Melissa Wanzer, EdD, Receives Distinguished Faculty Award

April 10, 2012


BUFFALO, NY - The Canisius College Alumni Association will present Melissa Bekelja Wanzer, EdD, with its 2012 Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award during spring honors convocation at2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18 in the Montante Cultural Center. The prestigious award is presented annually, and recognizes one faculty member for teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world. 

A professor of communication studies, Wanzer is considered a superior educator and mentor by undergraduate and graduate students. Her teaching focuses on relational communication, includes such courses as interpersonal communication, small group communication, and persuasion and social influence. In addition to the Communication Studies Department, Wanzer’s coursework is an integral part of the college’s interdisciplinary minor in Child, Family and Community Studies, as well as the Women’s Studies Program. She also teaches research methods in the college’s graduate Communication Leadership Program and graduate School of Education. 

Wanzer is adept at having students apply what they learn to projects and presentations, which often connect with significant issues outside of the classroom. One recent project was a testicular cancer campaign that her students collaborated on with Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Students created a health information campaign designed to raise awareness of testicular cancer among men.

In addition to teaching, Wanzer is among the college’s most productive scholars. Her research focuses on interpersonal/relational communication. Wanzer examines variables that impact the effectiveness of communication in a variety of contexts. She has studied teacher humor, teacher and student affinity-seeking, and the impact of student disabilities on teacher-student communication. In the areas of health communication, Wanzer explores nurses’ perceptions of physicians’ communication, how nurses use humor as a coping mechanism for work-related stress, the use of humor in healthcare settings, and the relationship between patient-centered communication and satisfaction. 

Wanzer joined the Canisius College faculty in 1997. She holds a master’s of arts degree in communication studies from Syracuse University and a doctor of education in communication in instruction from West Virginia University. 

Canisius College is one of 28 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the nation and the premier private college in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals – able to pursue and promote excellence in their professions, their communities and their service to humanity.