December 13, 2002
Butler Named UW-RF Outstanding Teacher of CAFES
By Michelle Nikolai
UW-RF News Bureau
UW-River Falls Professor Robert Butler has been named the 2002 College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences' Outstanding Teacher.
Butler began his teaching career in 1984 in the agricultural engineering department. He had an immediate impact on the quality of and was able to anticipate the shift in the focus of the college and became an early innovator in retooling the curriculum, according to his nominators.
Professor Jerry Nechville of agricultural engineering and Professor Nate Splett of agricultural economics credited Butler with revising courses to ensure they maintained their relevancy in changing areas such as the environmental sciences and food technology. Among the courses Butler addressed were irrigation and drainage, waste management, and food engineering. He also developed new courses, including environmental engineering, machine design and advanced food and process engineering.
Butler also was cited for his contributions as a faculty adviser for the Agricultural Mechanization Club and Delta Theta Sigma fraternity.
For the past 12 years, he has served as department chair years and has successfully recruited young engineers to fill vacant positions. Butler has worked collaborated with the faculty at UW-Madison to ensure technology graduates could enter such professional engineering graduate programs as biosystems engineering. Butler works extremely well with colleagues and strives for the best in students and faculty, Splett and Nechville said.
In addition to his student involvement and administrative responsibilities, Butler actively pursues grants, conducts research and publishes his results, according to Nechville and Splett. Butler has been successful in receiving project grants of more than $250,000 in such areas as experimental learning, organic recycling and composting, manure management, and energy conservation in milk cooling systems.
As a teacher, Butler sets high standards for his students and in doing so provides them with an excellent foundation to enter the work force. The greatest testimony to his excellence in teaching comes from his former students. Graduates, majors and non-majors alike, have repeatedly indicated that the education, which they received in Butler's classes, was critical in their initial employment and future career successes.
According to Nechville and Splett, Butler quietly ponders the vision of the college; he enjoys a unique ability to assess the resources and constraints of programs, students and faculty, and infrastructure. He succinctly articulates a clear understanding of this for the college, while graciously considering and respecting his colleagues' positions as he thinks to the future of CAFES. In the midst of this, Butler brings a sense of humor and warmth to the college.
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