Travis Alexander

Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Teaching Assistants

Travis Alexander
Travis Alexander (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Tanner Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Teaching Assistants: In 1990, the University expanded the purview of the Tanner Awards to recognize excellence in the teaching of undergraduates by graduate teaching assistants. Each of the five winners receives a one-time stipend of $5,000 and a framed citation.

Teaching at Carolina since 2015

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Excerpt from award citation:

“Mr. Alexander taught me not only how to write papers but taught me how to obtain information through reliable sources, present on specific topics and interview professors. All these skills were very useful and helped me in future endeavors.”

Who was the best teacher you ever had and why?

My high school theater tech teacher Mr. Cunningham, who taught me not only how to work with tools and build things, but also more general life lessons I still think of.

What is something you’ve learned from your students?

What “yeet!” means.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

For most of high school, I planned to play guitar professionally and almost went to a music program rather college.

What does it take to be a good professor in 2020?

Increasingly, students are reflexively suspicious of established communicative media. This new skepticism has to be directed toward positive and reparative ends.

What’s the most creative thing you’ve done to engage your students?

In most ways, my courses are fairly traditional, but I do ask my writing students to produce editorials for The Daily Tar Heel on current controversies at Carolina and to submit them to the paper. Many get published, and my students can find themselves becoming participants in the stories they covered.

25 employees received University Teaching Awards this year.