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Robert Torry Earns Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award

May 2, 2011
Man and woman
Bob Torry shares a laugh with one of his former students, Lindsey Hanlon of Cheyenne. (UW Photo)

That Robert Torry is the 2011 recipient of the John P. Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award is not a surprise.

The surprise is that he didn't earn the University of Wyoming's highest teaching award sooner.

"When I won this award three years ago, I made a mental list of those who had a better claim to it and Bob was at the top of that list," says Duncan Harris, director of the UW Honors Program.

"For his teaching at UW, Bob has already won just about every award we have to give. Yet he keeps going, refusing to rest on his laurels, teaching freshmen and graduate students with equal delight," says Peter Parolin, head of the UW Department of English. "Generations of Bob's students know, years after having taken a class from him, that they carry around ways of seeing, thinking and being first nourished in his classroom. He is, quite simply, the best."

A faculty member in the Department of English since 1983 -- first as a lecturer, then assistant professor, associate professor and now a full professor -- Torry uniquely blends what Susan Frye calls an "inimitable" style with a tremendous passion for teaching that positively impacts the lives of his students.

"I find it hard to believe that there is anyone at the University of Wyoming more deserving of the Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award than Robert Torry," says Frye, a UW English professor.

Torry's students share a similar respect.

"Bob is one of those teachers (that) students never forget, who changes how they think about the world around them and, more importantly, how they think about themselves," says Alison Bower Nelligan, a UW graduate in English (B.A., '96; M.A., '98). "His power to attract and positively influence students, year after year after year, is why Bob Torry is so deserving of an Ellbogen Lifetime Teaching Award.

"I hope you decide to give it to him. But I also know that he doesn't need it, that the teaching, for him, is its own reward. And that's what makes Bob the best."

Another former student, Robert Weatherford, praises Torry's ability to connect with his pupils.

"He is dedicated to students in a way that is very rare and very valuable," he says. "He wants to see every student achieve their individual best."

Says Lindsey Hanlon, another former student, "Bob Torry was one of the first professors I ever encountered at the University of Wyoming, and he is the one I am least likely to ever forget."

Torry is a graduate of Hiram (Ohio) College (B.A., '72) and State University of New York (Ph.D, '88).

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