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Molding tomorrow's higher ed leaders

Posted 9 a.m. Friday, May 24, 2024

Tori Svoboda, an associate professor in the Student Affairs Administration program, is one of seven UWL faculty to earn a 2024 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award.

Tori Svoboda receives 2024 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award

UW-La Crosse is home to many outstanding instructors who make a difference in students’ lives inside and outside the classroom. This year, UWL’s Provost Office received hundreds of nominations from students hoping to recognize their favorite faculty. From these nominations, a university committee selected seven faculty to receive 2024 Eagle Teaching Excellence Awards.   

They are:   

This is the third of seven articles highlighting the winners. 

Tori Svoboda, Student Affairs Administration

Started at UWL: 2013 

Courses: Since coming to UWL, I have taught 75% of the courses in our master’s program and 40% of courses in our doctoral program. I’ve prepped over 26 courses at UWL, which has helped me understand our full curriculum as well as focus on my own areas of expertise. Courses I’ve taught most frequently are: 

  • Master’s – Advising & Supporting, Foundations of Student Affairs Professional Practice, Social Justice & Inclusion, Capstone Seminar, Leadership & Organizational Theories 
  • Doctoral – Critical Analysis of Systemic Inequities in Education, Dissertation Planning/Writer’s Retreat, College Teaching, Qualitative Research Methods, Human Resources & Supervision 

Background: Prior to joining UWL, I enjoyed a 20-plus-year career as a higher education administrator, starting in admissions, registrar, academic/career advising, and orientation/retention. I spent over a decade as an associate dean of students with responsibility for everything from orientation/registration to sexual violence investigation to commuter and parenting student services. I later supervised offices of multicultural student services and international student services and managed divisional budgets. Being an adjunct instructor in another student affairs graduate program for six years is what inspired me to make the leap from being a full-time college administrator who taught on the side to being a full-time faculty member. It was strange to “start over” as a new faculty member while in my 40s, yet I benefitted tremendously from the support of SAA faculty, students and colleagues.   

Favorite part of teaching: The students! Whether they are early in their career, like our master’s students in graduate assistant/intern roles at campuses across Wisconsin, or more seasoned professionals, like our doctoral students working in senior-level roles at campuses across the nation, Student Affairs Administration (SAA) graduate students constantly inspire and challenge me. Our fully online or blended courses require relationship-rich environments where instructors and students all invest in learning from and with one another. I find nothing more rewarding than being alongside students/colleagues in more transformative learning moments (e.g., finding confidence in their voice, quieting imposter syndrome, asking more critical questions about our practice). I believe SAA alumni are shaping the future of higher education, building more equitable and inclusive campus environments, and contributing important scholarship to our field. I’m honored to be part of students’ educational journeys and hope to remain connected long after they complete their degree(s). 


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