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Computer science professor returns to her passion of teaching

February 4, 2015

Teachers never stop teaching, and Mary-Alice Muraski is proof of that.

After a long departure from the classroom, Muraski is back with her passion: teaching. Muraski joined UW-River Falls in 1984 as an assistant professor in computer science. In 30 years, she has held a lot of positions across the university.

“The chancellor asked me, he had tea for those of us who have been here for 30 years or more, and he asked what various positions you’ve held across campus and I said ‘I’ve had so many positions I think the only one I haven’t held is yours,’” Muraski said.

From being the director of the Honors Program to doing business analysis for the Registrar’s Office, Muraski has had her hands on many things at UWRF. She also helped bring technologies that students use on a daily basis to the campus.

In 2001, Muraski became the project manager for eSIS and oversaw the implementation of it over campus. Then a year or so after that, she helped bring D2L to campus as well.

Muraski was a part of DoTS from 2006 until the beginning of this semester. When Muraski joined DoTS there was no management structure in place and she helped develop that. She held multiple managerial positions at DoTS and ultimately ended her time there as the website administrator for D2L, a position she held before.

The website administrator role kept Muraski’s teaching sharp. As the site administrator she taught faculty how to use the website. She still does, even after she’s left the position, because some instructors have called her anyway for assistance.

Even though Muraski was at DoTS for a long tenure, she thinks they’ll do just fine without her.

“Somebody once told me that when you leave a position, if you have sufficiently shared your duties or documented what it is you have done, the hole you leave is the same hole you would leave if you pulled your fist out of a bucket of water,” Muraski said. “So think about pulling your hand out of a bucket of water, what size hole do you leave? You don’t leave any because there are other people who will come in and take over those things.”

Chief Information Officer Steve Reed says they’re still looking to fill the position.

“Currently we are in the process of hopefully being able to recruit and replace that position,” Reed said. “Hopefully we’ll know more in the next few weeks, if we are able to fill that position.”

Reed worked with Muraski for six years and made note of her dedication and loyalty to the university and it’s students over the 30 years she has been here. He also knows that Muraski is excited to be back in the classroom.

She sure is.

“I am so excited to be back living my passion again,” Muraski said. “I’ve been a teacher since I was 21. I love being a teacher; I love working with students; I miss the interaction with students. I always used to say ‘there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the light bulb go on when you are trying to present various concepts and helping students to learn and understand those concepts.’”

Muraski will be teaching those concepts in various classes in her first semester back. This semester she is teaching: technology and cyber space: ethics and issues; information systems for business management; and beginning programming: an introduction to Java.

Just a couple days into the semester, Muraski is still nervous, but she said that is a good thing.

“The only thing is I hope I don’t mess up too bad,” Muraski said. “I think it’s coming back to me. I’m just as nervous as I was my very first day, probably as nervous as I was in my 15th year of teaching. I hope I never get over being nervous in front of my classes.”