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WCE Faculty Pay Tribute to Rich Huber

Saturday, January 03, 2015

WCE Faculty Pay Tribute to Rich Huber

Forty faculty members attended a celebration in honor of Watson College professor Rich Huber on Dec.10. Huber taught middle school and elementary science methods courses for 26 years at the college prior to his retirement. Kathy Fox, chair of the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education planned the event, designed to “toast and roast” Huber.

Fox compiled a slide presentation featuring photos from Huber’s international travels and highlights of the numerous awards he won for research and teaching while at UNCW. The awards include the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (twice), the UNCW Distinguished Professor Teaching Award, the UNCW Information Technology Systems Division Award and the prestigious Carnegie Foundation North Carolina Professor of the Year Award. She then opened the floor to colleagues to share personal stories. 

Faculty described Huber as a global adventurer, a dedicated teacher, mentor and friend who has enriched their lives both personally and professionally. They shared many humorous anecdotes.

Dennis Kubasko and Amy Taylor, dressed in matching custom-designed lab coats with the words “Dancing Raisins” prominently displayed, gave the opening tributes. Taylor explained that “Dancing Raisins” is a science project that Huber has shared with his students for years.

“It is now one of my favorite activities to share with elementary students,” Taylor said.

WCE Faculty Pay Tribute to Rich Huber

Kubasko said, “Rich had a big influence on my choosing UNC Wonderful in 2002. He was a mentor who helped me grow as a science teacher and as a professor.” Kubasko said Huber often traveled abroad to find new locations to bring students, and when he went to explore opportunities in Peru, Kubasko went along.

“At the time I knew a proposal had been accepted for presentation during the trip,” he said. “What I didn’t know was that Rich and I were featured presenters at an international conference to be telecast live on three continents. I spent my first hours in Peru driving around trying to buy a tie and a shirt suitable for the occasion. I quickly learned, in working with Rich, to be prepared for anything.”

Tracy Hargrove, Katie Schlichting and Brian Brinkley had Huber as a professor when they were students at the college prior to joining the faculty.

Huber was Hargrove’s professor in the Elementary Education Program.  “He changed my view of teaching and learning to one of inquiry,” she said. “You will always be Dr. Huber to me, and if I’m a good teacher at all, I learned it from you.”

Schlichting said, “I’m here doing what I love with people I love because of you. When I graduated with my Ph.D. and went to New York, you called and said, ‘As soon as we have a job, we’ll bring you back.’”  When she returned, Huber shared resources and knowledge and mentored her through her first semester, she said.  Schlichting thanked him for “many years as my colleague, mentor and friend.”

As an undergraduate student, Brinkley had Huber as a professor in science methods. Huber “taught me to be an honest teacher,” he told the group. Brinkley returned to UNCW in 2004, tasked with teaching science methods. “I told Dr. Huber I was nervous and unsure of what I was doing. He said, ‘no problem,’ shared his syllabus and said, ‘Call me Rich.’ He was the first person who made me feel like a colleague,” Brinkley said.

Brad Walker and Huber started work at the Watson College the same week in 1989. Walker said he was fortunate to have “such a great friend and a great colleague.” He shared stories of their many joint ventures in local schools, where Walker introduced strategies for enhancing literacy and Huber brought hands-on science projects. It was largely a successful partnership, Walker said, but he will never forget one failed experiment in a kindergarten classroom that resulted in a cricket infestation at Ogden Elementary School several years ago.

Cindy Wiseman described Huber as the Energizer Bunny because of his quick pace. Wiseman relayed a story about a time when Huber, rushing to class, hurried through a door and smashed it over her foot.

“He apologized and sent an enormous bouquet of flowers,” Wiseman said. “And, if any of you have been wondering why we have warnings outside all of the doors in the building, now you know.”

Shelby Morge said Huber’s students wanted to attend the celebration event but were unable to because “Rich scheduled their final exam for the same day, same time!”

Other presenters include Angie Reid Griffin, Kathy Roney and Chris Moore.

Dean Kenneth Teitelbaum said, “I don’t have the same history that you all do, so I googled to learn more about Rich’s background.” He then shared a long and humorous list of the various achievements of individuals named Rich Huber located around the world, “because we know we can always rely on the information we find on the internet.”

Kubasko and Taylor gifted Huber with a custom “Dancing Raisins” lab coat at the end of the tributes.  Fox closed the presentation saying, “We all value your many academic contributions and your friendship. With Dancing Raisins, you have left a lasting legacy here at WCE and in our schools. We will always laugh and smile in our hearts when we think of you. Thank you, Rich.”