Tori Svoboda profile photo

Tori Svoboda

Specialty area(s)

intersections of gender, racial/ethnic, and social class identities; orientation, transition and retention programs; program assessment; budget management; supervision; social justice education

Brief biography

I was born in St. Paul MN and raised on a small hobby farm in western WI. I've always loved learning and was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. I attended UW-River Falls, St. Cloud State, and UW-Madison as an undergraduate, and started graduate school thinking I would be a guidance counselor. There, a former work-study supervisor of mine encouraged me to check out student affairs as a career option. Over twenty-five years later, I'd say he gave pretty great advice! In 2013, I transitioned from full-time administrator to full-time faculty, and I couldn't be happier. I currently live in Hudson WI with my partner and our three dogs.

Current courses at UWL

Summer 2018:

SAA 700 - Foundations of Ethical and Professional Practice in Student Affairs (online M.S.Ed.)
SAA 830 - Dissertation Preparation (online Ed.D., with optional on-campus writing retreat)

Fall 2018:

SAA 706 - Advising & Supporting (blended at UWRF)
SAA 708 - Social Justice in Higher Education (online M.S.Ed.)
SAA 835 - Supervision and Human Resource Management (online Ed.D.)

For appointments, please visit 


Ed.D. - Leadership, 2012
University of St. Thomas
Dissertation: Constructing Class: Exploring the experiences of White women student affairs educators from working class backgrounds [Link]

M.S. - Counseling Psychology, 1995
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Thesis: Identity matching in counseling relationships

B.A. - Women's Studies, African American Studies, + Foreign Languages, 1992
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Teaching history

Fall 2013 marked my first term teaching at UW-La Crosse. I taught as an adjunct faculty member in the Leadership in Student Affairs master's degree program at the University of St. Thomas (MN) for seven years prior to joining the SAA program. When I was at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, I was a faculty associate teaching behavioral interviewing and a graduate assistant teaching in women's studies.

Spring 2018:
SAA 720 (topics) - Social Class (online)
SAA 720 (topics) - Student Retention (online)
SAA 720 (topics) - (Dis)Ability in Higher Ed (online, lead instructor is Justin Hiniker)
SAA 790 - Capstone Seminar (UWL)
SAA 810 - Critical Analysis of Systemic Inequity (online Ed.D.)

Fall 2017:
SAA 700 - Prof Practice (UWL)
SAA 700 - Prof Practice (UWRF)
SAA 706 - Advising & Supporting (UWL)
UWL 100 - First year seminar (UWL) 

Spring 2017:
SAA 704 - Leadership (UWL)
SAA 706 - Advising & Supporting (online)
SAA 720 - Special Topics:  First Generation (online), co-taught with Amanda Goodenough
SAA 720 - Special Topics:  Violence Prevention (online), co-taught with Barbara Stewart
SAA 790 - Capstone (UWRF), co-taught with Adele Lozano

Fall 2016:
SAA 700 - Prof Practice (UWL)
SAA 701 - Technology in Student Affairs (UWL)
SAA 706 - Advising & Supporting (UWL)
SAA 706 - Advising & Supporting (UWRF)

Summer 2016:
SAA 700 - Intro to Prof Pract (online)

Spring 2016:
SAA 704 - Leadership (UWL)
SAA 704 - Leadership (UWRF)
SAA 720 (topics) - (Dis)abilities (online), co-taught with Robin Hart Ruthenbeck
SAA 790 - Capstone (online)

Fall 2015:
SAA 700 - Intro to Prof Pract (UWL)
SAA 700 - Intro to Prof Pract (UWRF)
SAA 706 - Helping Skills & Crisis Management (UWL)
SAA 708 - Diversity & Higher Education (UWL)

Summer 2015:
SAA 700 - Intro to Prof Pract (online)
SAA 706 - Helping Skills & Crisis Management (online)
SAA 720 (topics) - Student Retention (online)

Spring 2015:
SAA 704 - Leadership (UWL)
SAA 720 (topics) - Gender Equity (online), co-taught with Nizam Arain
SAA 720 (topics) - Social Class Issues in a Social Justice Context
SAA 780 - Applied Research Project (UWRF)
SAA 790 - Capstone (online)

Fall 2014:
SAA 706 - Helping Skills & Crisis Management (UWL)
SAA 708 - Diversity in Higher Education (online)
SAA 780 - Applied Research Project (UWRF)
SAA 781 - Student Affairs Internship (UWRF)

Summer 2014:
SAA 700 - Intro to Professional Practice (online)
SAA 706 - Helping Skills & Crisis Management (online)
SAA 720 (topics) - Student Retention (online)

Spring 2014:
SAA 704 - Leadership (UWL)
SAA 710 - Administration (UWRF)
SAA 761 - Applied Research (UWRF)
SAA 720 (topics) - Academic Advising (online)
SAA 720 (topics) - Student Retention (online)
SAA 720 (topics) - White Privilege (online)

Fall 2013:
SAA 700 - Intro to Professional Practice (UWRF)
SAA 708 - Diversity in Higher Education (online)
SAA 708 - Diversity in Higher Education (UWRF)
SAA 745 - Finance & Governance (online)
EDLD 703 - Introduction to Student Affairs (University of St. Thomas)

Professional history

2014-present: SAA Assistant Professor at UW-La Crosse.  Recipient of 2018 College of Liberal Studies Excellence in Teaching Award.

2013-2014: SAA Lecturer at UW-La Crosse (teach online and in-person to various Student Affairs Administration cohorts, including the on-campus program at UW-L, the partner program at UWRF, and the national online cohorts)

2002-2013: Associate Dean of Students, Diversity & Inclusion at the University of St. Thomas (MN) (responsible for orientation, student diversity, commuter and adult student services, family weekend, sexual violence investigations, budgeting, assessment)

2007-2013: Adjunct Faculty, Leadership Policy & Administration, University of St. Thomas (taught Introduction to Student Affairs seven consecutive years, along with internship classes and a finance course)

1998-2002: Interim Director/Assistant Director, Campus Information, Assistance & Orientation, University of Wisconsin - Madison

1995-1998: Academic and Career Advisor, School of Education, University of WI - Madison

1995: Transfer Admissions Counselor and Residency Counselor (LTE)

1992-1995: Several positions as a graduate assistant (teaching assistant in Women's Studies, Campus Women's Center Director, student organization office intern, wellness peer educator and HIV test counselor, advisor to outdoor programs in Hoofers, advisor to Greater University Tutoring Service)

Research and publishing

As a full-time administrator for over 20 years, my contributions were primarily through presenting and leading professional associations rather than publishing. Still, since becoming an assistant professor in 2014, I have contributed the following to our field.

Svoboda, V. (in press).  “I could always go back to being a bartender”: Musings of an ambivalent academic.  In S. Ardoin & b. martinez (Eds.), Social class in the academy.  Sterling, VA:  Stylus.  [Final submission March 2018; anticipated in print in Winter 2018-2019].

Svoboda, V. (2018). Considering class in academic and career advising.  NASPA Knowledge Community Publication, pp. 58-59. [Link]

Svoboda, V. (2016). Grounding versus lifting: Mobility of student affairs educators from working-class backgrounds. NASPA Knowledge Community Publication, pp. 56-58. [Link]

Svoboda, V., Boyle, K. M., & Ponasik, N. (2016).  Faculty perceptions of graduate online student affairs education: Skeptics and fans.  Distance Teaching & Learning Conference Proceedings, pp. 39-44.  [Link]

Svoboda, V., & Vianden, J. (2015). Challenging straight White college men (STR8WCM) to develop positive social justice advocacy. ACPA Developments, 12(4). [Link]

I lead two additional research projects. The first, studying online graduate education in student affairs, aims to explore faculty perceptions about whether this delivery system could enhance the diversity of our profession. This project was awarded a faculty research grant from ACPA in 2015. We presented preliminary results at ACPA in 2016 and had our first article published in summer 2016.

The second, studying academic early alert systems for undergraduate students of color, is an attempt to learn student experiences with such systems and the extent to which they may activate stereotype threat. This project was awarded a catalyst research grant from NODA in 2015. I presented results at NODAC in 2015 and 2016, and will submit an article for publication by Summer 2018.

McNair Scholars gives me the chance to work with exceptional undergraduate students on their research. In 2015, Ebony Phillips and I were able to present our work on multiracial students with white passing privilege at the NASPA Multicultural Institute and in 2016, I worked with Cristian Noriega-Sagastume on a project related to polarity management and the social justice educator practice of calling in/out.

With colleague Dr. Buffy Smith, Sociology, University of St. Thomas, I co-edit the Social Class in Education series from Lexington.  Books we have published thus far include: 

Ardoin, S. (2017). College aspirations and access in working class rural communities:  The mixed signals, challenges, and new language first generation students encounter. [Link]

Roberson Lathe, T. (2017). The working class student in higher education:  Addressing a class-based understanding. [Link]

I also serve on the Research Committee of the Executive Board of NODA - Association for Orientation, Transition, & Retention in Higher Education, where I helped craft the latest research agenda. NODA was my professional home for many years, as I served as the MN State Coordinator for four years, hosted a regional conference when I was at UW-Madison, and presented at both the national and regional conferences over 20 times.

Additional professional affiliations include:

SJTI - Social Justice Training Institute - participant in 2003, renewal in 2006, intern in 2012

ACPA - College Student Educators International - former Board member of the Commission for Commuter Students and Adult Learners and of the Minnesota College Personnel Association. Presenter and facilitator at ACPA's Institute for Social Justice in 2010. Member since 1995.

NACADA - National Academic Advising Association - pre-conference workshop presenter in 2012.

ASHE - Association for the Study of Higher Education - early career faculty teaching workshop participant.

I have also presented at the annual NAFSA and ACHA conventions, as well as MN and WI career conferences.