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Professor receives high honor

February 26, 2009

In just eight years of teaching at UW-River Falls, psychology professor Travis Tubre’ has already won one of the University’s biggest honors.

Tubre’ is the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award for 2008, which gives alumni a chance to recognize the University’s most outstanding and influential educator.

“Winning the award is very meaningful because it originates with student nominations,” Tubre’ said. “It’s also nice to be recognized for something that I truly love doing.”

The award is voted on by recent UWRF alumni who look for teachers that had an impact on their educational careers, according to College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Brad Caskey.

“To me, the Distinguished Teacher Award represents a lot because this campus is known for teaching,” he said. “To be selected by former students is really a great honor.”

Caskey, who has known Tubre’ since he was hired in 2001, spoke highly of him.

“Travis is a dynamic person in the classroom,” he said. “He is edgy and willing to talk about controversial issues with his students, and he does it well.”

UWRF Psychology Department Chair Michael Reich said he agrees.

“Travis has a lot of enthusiasm and carries that over into his classes,” he said. “He has a natural ability to relate to his students…I can’t quite explain it, but he’s just very natural in a teaching role.”

Tubre’, who received his Master’s and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, said his “energetic enthusiasm” is part of why he is such a popular professor with students and faculty alike.

“I like what I teach and it shows,” he said. “I try to incorporate real-life examples into my lectures so students are able to relate to the information better.”

UWRF student Alyssa Petrangelo, whom Tubre’ advised on a paper that recently won a regional psychology award, said that what sets him apart from other professors is the way he challenges students to get them to think in different ways.

“I think his greatest quality as a professor/advisor is that he genuinely wants each student to succeed and he tries his hardest to make that happen,” she said in an e-mail interview. “His teaching style focuses on the students and he relates concepts to real life experiences.”

According to the Web site for the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), Tubre’ is one of 10 University award winners from the college since 2002, and the only one to win the Distinguished Teacher Award in the past seven years.

“The level of involvement, commitment and rapport that he is able to build with his students is amazing,” Reich said. “He’s approachable yet still a demanding professor at the same time.”

Petrangelo said she can attest to the level of involvement Tubre’ displays.

“I believe that Travis has a hands-on approach when it comes to doing research with the students,” she said. “Not only does he want us to get involved, he himself takes the time to walk us through each step of the way so we have an idea [of] how the research process works.”

In addition to his teaching duties at UWRF, Tubre’, a self described “active person,” is also involved in numerous campus and community-wide events.

“I participate in research, am involved with three organizations on campus…I have also done community programming type events at the library and given presentations in the residence halls,” he said. “I’m also teaching at the Wisconsin in Scotland program this summer.”

Tubre’s area of expertise lies within the field of industrial and organizational psychology, which includes the psychology of the workplace and conflict between employees, among other things. His research work has set him apart from many of his peers, and an article that he co-authored was featured in the January 2009 edition of The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist magazine.

“Travis is very well respected in the psychology field on a national level,” Caskey said.

Aside from the awards and recognition, however, Tubre’ said he appreciates the “faculty-student collaboration” he so often takes part in.

“Winning awards and being recognized is nice and I feel honored,” he said, “but I still love teaching and interacting with students. I believe that good teachers draw from their students.”