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New provost shares ideas on UW-River Falls’ future potential

November 14, 2018

The 2018-2019 academic year has welcomed many new faces to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus. One of these new faces is the Provost, David Travis. Travis previously worked at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for 24 years before deciding to move north to River Falls.

Travis’ experience in post-secondary academics began about 25 years ago as a professor for the department of geography and environmental science. During his time at UW-Whitewater, Travis started as an assistant professor, then moved into the role of professor, associate dean, and finally the dean of the college of arts and sciences. Following these rolls, Travis took a position at UW-River Falls this past June, becoming the new provost of the university.

David Travis

David Travis is the new provost at UW-River Falls. (Photo by Theo Tollefson)

As provost, Travis’s role entails being the chief academic officer on campus. Travis supervises the deans, the academic directors, works with the budget officer to assure faculty and staff have the resources they need, works with the IT department to assure infrastructure are best suited for faculty.

Travis also spoke on his role with students saying, “I try my best to work with students. I’d say the one thing I don’t do as much of as I would like is to interact directly with students. It’s something I really enjoyed as a dean and a professor, but the role does not allow for a lot of interactions with students. I typically rely on the deans and other people that have more direct contact with the students to keep that information flow going.”

Travis then went onto share how he has adjusted to his time at UWRF as the new provost stating, “It’s a challenging job with obstacles that range from budgetary constraints to personnel that have a high workload that are asked to do a lot. I think whenever I start feeling that this is a difficult job, I just look around and see how hard everyone is work and it reinforces the work that I do.”

Travis mentioned how he and his family have adjusted to living in a new town sharing, “The town itself is a great place! We got here during the summer immediately welcomed by our neighborhood and people around town and living right across from campus has really helped.”

Travis had gone on to share his vision of what he wants to do for the future of UWRF saying, “ What I hope to do is to tap into more resource opportunities for this campus through new program development, ways that our programs could connect with nearby business industry, other entities that would allow more revenue to come into campus to allow us to have more opportunities here to continue our programs. I’d like to see the university get more committed to studying abroad. Right now we have about 30 percent of our students studying abroad which is a good number, but I would like that number to go up. It’s certainly a transformative, life-altering experience.”

Continuing on, Travis said,  “The University doesn’t have quite the amount of professional development support for the faculty or staff. I would love to develop a teaching and learning center that our faculty, and maybe our students can also use, but also our faculty as they possible can learn new teaching techniques and technology. The honest truth is I need to be here a good year before I can figure out what are the priorities and what can we do based on the resources available to go after those priorities.”

Although Travis has not had much time to work with students on campus as the new provost, he hopes to find more ways to do in the near future. “One thought I’ve had is to develop a Provost Student Advisory Committee just like the dean and chancellor have. Another one that I have already been doing is the provost open office hours. I have once a week typically over at the University Center, the time varies and in the Falls Room. It is a way that students can see me, learn about what my role is here at the university and how I can help them. Students tend to have an understanding of what a dean is, what a chancellor is, but a provost is in this in-between world. They may not realize that I am the chief academic officer on campus so it’s an important conversation that I should be having. I would encourage students to come to provost open office hours, share whatever experiences they’re having good, bad, ugly, and advice on ways that I can help them.”

If any student would like to meet with David Travis, he is located on the first floor of North Hall, room 116. Appointments can be set up to meet with him here. Travis also has open office hours once a week at the University Center in the Falls Room, with dates and times posted outside the room for the meeting of the week.

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