Dr. Cliff Robb, associate professor of Consumer Science and faculty director of the personal finance major, has won the Class of 1955 Teaching Excellence Award, one of just 13 university-wide distinguished teaching awards granted for 2021. A member of the UW faculty since 2016, he has earned high praise from students and colleagues alike for his engaging and good-humored style of teaching and his transformation of the personal finance major to better serve student interests and holistic learning.
“He is without question an expert in his field, but with students, he frames himself as someone who has simply spent a lot more time learning about these topics, exploring the same questions,” says Dr. Nancy Wong, Chair of the Consumer Science department. “By positioning himself not as someone with all the answers but someone who is just at a different place in the educational journey… he creates community around learning and places himself squarely within—not above—that community.”
Over the last several years, in response to what he found to be two separate but overlapping interest areas among students, he developed and formalized two new tracks within the personal finance major: a financial planning concentration, which prepares students to be certified financial planners, and a consumer finance concentration, which emphasizes financial products, technologies, and consumer behavior. He also led the development of UW’s first fully online undergraduate degree, a BS in personal finance, prioritizing equity between online and residential students and building into the online program the same quality of curriculum, interactions, and personal attention. Meanwhile, he helped found the Badger$ense program, expanding student learning beyond the classroom with supervised peer-to-peer financial counseling experience.
“Professor Robb will do anything in his power to help his students achieve their goals and succeed in the personal finance program,” says alum Maddie Roamer, who, at Robb’s encouragement, applied for and won the TD AmeriTrade NextGen Scholarship in 2019. “I sought advice from him at various times as I was looking for jobs and internships, or just about being confused about what I wanted to do after college. Every time he offered concrete advice with companies to look at and resources to utilize. And most importantly, he has always encouraged me to never settle for a job that doesn’t excite me. His belief in my potential meant a lot to me, especially in the male-dominated industry of wealth management where I often doubted myself.”
UW’s Distinguished Teaching Awards have been given out since 1953 to recognize the university’s finest educators. The 13 winners of this year’s awards will be recognized during a virtual event April 6 at 5:00 p.m. CT.
“It is humbling to be recognized as a transformative educator, and I really have to credit our students, my colleagues in the Consumer Science department, and the School of Human Ecology for creating such a vibrant and welcoming learning environment. It is truly a joy to teach here and every day brings new, exciting challenges,” says Robb. “I look forward to continuing to engage our students as we build out our online undergraduate degree and seek to develop a stronger campus presence for the Badger$ense program.”