Meet Chandra Waring!

Chandra Waring.  (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)Dr. Waring came to UW-Whitewater in 2012 after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. She has taught courses on social problems, white racism, and ethnicity and race. Her areas of specialization include racial and ethnic relations; minority and multiracial families; qualitative research methods; and media and gender. In 2012 she earned 1st place in the the Association of Black Sociologists Graduate Student Paper recognition.  Below are some observations on her first year at UWW and other interesting information!


Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, can you share one reflection on the year?

Absolutely, I feel like I was a sponge this past year because I learned so much! I spent the first semester getting acclimated to Wisconsin and to my new position as an Assistant Professor, with 160 students! I spent the second semester figuring out ways to have more balance (i.e. exercise, mentor a student, write/revise, plan fun activities and volunteer).  It’s really important to me to have a full life, that way I enjoy each component that much more—because I have healthy breaks from each. Also, my cohort is great! We had plenty of social gatherings where we could vent, laugh and learn from each other so having that community to tap into as fellow newbies was very beneficial.

What is her favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

 She feels really welcomed at UW-Whitewater.  It also is a good fit for her because everyone that she has met is very genuine and down to earth as well as supportive and fun to be around.

What made her want to teach?

When she was four, she was able to witness her mother homeschooling her brother, and distinctly remembers watching them and wanting to be a part of that process. Because of the brief homeschooling experiences in her youth, she was very excited to go to school, and she had very positive experiences with her teachers. At each grade level, she felt a connection and desire to teach at that level. When she reached college she found that professors were truly able to be engaging with their students and decided that was where she belonged. 

What is her approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

 Dr. Waring’s approach is to be unorthodox. On the first day, she tries to do something different, including fun, eclectic ice breaker questions. Her approach is very student- centered. She enjoys doing hands-on activities (e.g. using course material to construct a twitter message or a postcard) students wouldn’t expect so that they are excited about class. She brings personal experience into the classroom, so that students are able to relate to the examples more clearly and remember more easily.  

What is one experience that occurred during her undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on her approach to her academic career?

 During her freshman year, she had a professor who was passionate, smart and not easily impressed. In grad school, she had a lot of sharp professors who did activist work and who were very connected to the community.  It was very inspiring to work with these professors because they excited her intellectually and made her want to be a part of that process for other people.

 What book would she recommend to her students?

 And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini because when she began reading it she couldn’t put it down. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the story is such a classic example of the human condition.  It creates a strong sense of empathy toward the characters.

Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss because it’s a very quick read that really puts life into perspective and gives you tools to deal with pain, failure, and other aspects of life. It’s particularly helpful for young adults learning to deal with life in a new perspective.

 What is something that students would be surprised to learn about her?

 She has taught students who are now professional athletes in the NBA and NFL. She also once rode an elephant. 

What does she like to do outside of work?

 She likes to exercise, loves to travel, crochet, meditate, read, write, and attend concerts.

Meet Jeff Olson!

JOlsonDr. Jeff Olson earned his doctorate at The Ohio State University. His doctoral dissertation is titled, “The Evolution of Urban-Rural Space: The Case of the U.S. Midwest.” His research experience also includes serving as a research fellow with the Appalachian Ohio Forest Research Group.  He joined the Geography and Geology Department faculty in August, 2013.  Jeff is also a proud UWW alum! Below he offers some reflections on his first year at UWW as well as other interesting stuff!


Now that you have completed your first year as a faculty member at UW-Whitewater, what is one reflection about your first year?

 Being a first year faculty can be exhausting, and it’s a crash course on what I do poorly in and out of the classroom. It will obviously take me time to become as good at handling teaching 4 classes at a time as I need to be, but the work is worth it when I see students improve their knowledge and skills.

What is his favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?

He really enjoys the students here.  He especially enjoys when people come in during office hours.

What is something that students would be surprised to learn about him?

That he actually feels bad when he has to be harsh, and he doesn’t enjoy it.  Dr. Olson believes it is good to be straight-forward about negative things and that hiding the truth from people doesn’t allow them to improve where they can.

What made him want to teach?

 When he was at UW-Whitewater as an undergrad, he had some very good professors and gained several important experiences.  He was an assistant in the Geography labs, was able to work on GIS mapping, and was employed by a consulting firm. At The Ohio State University, he found out he had the ability to communicate complex ideas in an easy to understand way. Teaching is how he learned to focus his energy.

 What is his approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?

 His goal in the classroom is to show students how much they can learn by challenging them with new ideas and concepts. He uses interactive activities that require students to reflect on the course material. In upper level classes he teaches quantitative analysis, writing skills, high-quality mapping, and the ability to deal with diverse data sets.  He is a demanding instructor because he believes that students should continuously improve on the quality of work they do in order to prepare themselves for life and work after graduation

 What is one experience that occurred during his undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on his approach to his academic career?

 The experience of being a Resident Assistant in the dorms for three years gave him an appreciation for some of the challenges students face as well as examples of what students are able to often overcome and be successful.  This experience also helped him realize that he wanted to continue working with young adults.

 What book would he recommend to his students?

The Milagro Bean Field War by John Nichols, because it’s an entertaining and engaging novel that is a commentary on land use and social relationships that covers a number issues like geography, power and resistance.

What does he like to do outside of work?

He enjoys playing with his Doberman named Ruxin, working out, binge watching Breaking Bad, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, spending time with his friends, and coming up with new mind blowing assignments for his classes.