By Julie Watterson
Dr. Delisia R. Matthews, assistant professor in the Wilson College of Textiles’ department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM), was recently selected as a university-level recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Teacher Award. She was one of 17 recipients across NC State.
The award recognizes excellence in teaching at all levels and is a prerequisite for being considered for the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Alumni Distinguished Professor Award. Recipients become members of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers for as long as they are NC State faculty.
“Delisia teaches students to reach beyond comprehension. She requires them to synthesize, analyze and apply theory. This approach generates students who perform as seasoned professionals. This is one example of many why Dr. Matthews is known as a leader in textile marketing education,” said Nancy Cassill, associate dean for academic programs. “Delisia expects commitment to excellence. Although approachable, humble, patient, positive and encouraging, she maintains high expectations. She provides structure and guidance to assist students to meet their academic goals.”
Matthews received her B.S. in Marketing from Tuskegee University in 2000. She continued her studies in marketing at North Carolina Central University where she received her M.B.A in 2006. She earned her Ph.D. in Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies from University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2012. She joined the TATM department at NC State in 2015, after serving as assistant professor for three years at Louisiana State University in the Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising department.
Matthews views teaching as an opportunity for her to serve and lead at NC State. While teaching, she delves deeper into explaining past experiences to help inspire and teach her students.
“I approach my teaching with a servant leadership perspective. I often use the following quote to guide me in my teaching duties and relationships with students: ‘One makes a living by what one gets, but one makes a life by what one gives.’ Thus, I strive to give of myself wholeheartedly by using my academic preparation, skills, past experiences and industry background towards the betterment of my students,” said Matthews.
Matthews uses brands and companies that students interact with on a daily basis or may be familiar with to help drive engagement in the classroom setting. She currently teaches FTM 282: Introduction to Textile Brand Management and Marketing and FTM 387: Textile Brand Communication and Promotions, two classes where her examples bring something to the table other than textbook readings, definitions and flashcards.
“I believe that the main principle of teaching is to challenge students to think critically, while learning and applying new concepts. Memorization of concepts is not enough. To facilitate this, I consistently expose students to market trends within apparel, branding and marketing. I emphasize relevance by discussing current events and case studies pertinent to the apparel and retail industry, and by asking students to share their knowledge and experience in the industry,” said Matthews
Providing opportunities to discuss case studies and work on projects related to well known apparel brands allows students to become that much more interested in their work.
“I discuss how their knowledge and experiences directly relate to the significant concepts in the curriculum. One example of this is the case study students complete on Lululemon in FTM 387. Many students are familiar with the yoga athletic wear company. However, the case study allows them to apply their knowledge of the company further to assess the branding and marketing strategies the company uses. Approaching teaching in this manner sparks greater interest in the concepts taught within the course in a relevant and fun way, and gives students insights into brands that they may have every day experiences with,” said Matthews.
Prior to joining academia, she worked eight years in the marketing research and retail industries for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nordstrom and Walmart Corporate Marketing. “Before beginning my academic career, I had the opportunity to work within the consumer, apparel/retail and marketing industries. These experiences have shaped me and given me a unique perspective to share with students in the classroom. By sharing my successes and failures, the students can better understand from a ‘real world’ perspective the complexities of the industry,” explained Matthews.
In addition, she feels it is important that students are exposed to public and private partners who are currently employed within the industry. “They dialogue with students so they can see the roles and responsibilities that will be expected of them when they join the industry. This will make students better equipped to contribute successfully to the industry upon graduation,” said Matthews.
Two partners she collaborated with to supplement teaching are the American Heart Association (AHA) and Gucci.
“I recently partnered with the AHA for my FTM 387 course. Given the recent trend of brands pairing with social responsibility causes, I wanted students to be exposed to the branding and promotions of non‐profit organizations. Thus, through the AHA partnership, students were given the opportunity to create print ad and social media marketing ideas for a “Go Red For Women” AHA event,” she said.
Students within both FTM 387 and FTM 282 also had the opportunity to connect with industry partners from Gucci. Specifically, a Gucci accessories executive was invited to speak to the students and shared her experiences with the brand given her role and responsibilities. To advance the discussion, the speaker brought merchandise so that students could experience the brand and see the textiles in an up close and personal manner.
Matthews provides opportunities for students to develop leadership skills through problems solving via several group projects. “For instance, in both courses students are required to create groups in which they work on a marketing strategy and brand promotions projects. Throughout the year, the students work together preparing marketing ideas for the projects, which allow students to engage with peers of different backgrounds and attitudes. This exposure to diversity is crucial, as students will work in global environments with individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives upon graduation,” said Matthews.
Colleagues cite Matthews’ demeanor and talent as factors in her success.
“Delisia is not only exceptionally conscientious, but also demonstrates an innate affinity for classroom teaching. Further, Delisia is patient, disciplined and paces herself effectively in all of her professional endeavors which provides an excellent example for our students and creates a harmonious learning environment. She projects positivity and is goal oriented which resonates with students,” said Dr. Marguerite Moore, professor in TATM.
Many students describe Matthews as an effective teacher: knowledgeable of the subject matter, innovative with her teaching style and having experiences that enrich the learning environment.
In addition to serving as a mentor and academic advisor to undergraduate and graduate students, Matthews also conducts research into consumer behavior, branding, retailing and fashion consumer groups.