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University professor remembered

Of the many adjectives used to describe UW-River Falls Professor Dr. Tracey Gladstone-Sovell, who died a week ago Wednesday at the age of 54, passion tops the list.

Gladstone-Sovell had passion for learning, teaching and UW-River Falls. She was also passionate about her family, friends, chocolate, coffee, conversation, and a black and white rescue mutt named Tuxedo.

"Tracey was a passionate, loving, giving person," said her long-time friend, Mary-Alice Muraski, Information Technology Services. "She believed in all we are doing at this university."

Gladstone-Sovell taught political science, but she was so much more than a gifted professor to her students, campus colleagues, family and friends.

"Tracey was a wonderful, committed member of the UW-RF community," said Dr. Brad Caskey, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "She truly was called to help students learn. She was a thoughtful, engaged and responsible citizen."

A New York state native, Gladstone-Sovell earned her bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University, and her master's and Ph. D. from Purdue University.

After five years at Northern State College in South Dakota, Gladstone-Sovell joined the UW-RF political science faculty in 1986. Courses she regularly taught included Introduction to American Government and Politics, Western Political Thought, and The Media and American Politics.

In the classroom Gladstone-Sovell pulled appropriate political quotes from history, including Socrates and Nietzsche to spice up her lectures, but also tapped pop culture.

She was fond of the Rolling Stones' lyrics, and would repeat them on many occasions, including when a student complained about a grade. "You can't always get what you want, You just might find, You get what you need ...."

Dr. Davida Alperin, political science professor, said, "Tracey was a great colleague, friend and car-pool buddy. She had a big heart. She found great fulfillment in her life by working with her students. I, and many others, will miss her so much.

In her post tenure review statement in 2006, Gladstone-Sovell wrote: "When I entered academia I never had the goal of becoming the academic equivalent of rich and famous. I wanted to be able to help pass on my love of learning, particularly of the study of politics and political philosophy to others and to have students grow as people in the way that key professors helped me over the years. ..."

Gladstone-Sovell was active on many university committees, including General Education, served as Political Science department chair, and was involved with many civic engagement initiatives, including the American Democracy Project.

She gave numerous conference presentations, published more than 10 articles, and co-authored "The Web of Democracy -- An Introduction to American Politics."

The College of Arts and Sciences recognized Gladstone-Sovell with its Outstanding Advisor Award in 2004 and Outstanding Service Award in 2007. These awards were among many she received for her service, teaching and leadership.

Before she was stricken with cancer, Gladstone-Sovell said one of her favorite new sayings was, "It is what it is," a saying that became her reply when asked how she was doing.

Dr. Wesley Chapin, political science professor, said, "Tracey absolutely loved interacting with students, as a teacher, adviser, coach and advocate. I don't think she could have chosen a better profession for her passions and skills. Most of her courses focused on political philosophy, and she thoroughly enjoyed talking about historical and contemporary political theory and philosophy with students.

"She loved incorporating technology into her courses, and for many years served on technology-related committees that helped to start transforming the campus from a low-tech to high-tech environment. She was a mentor to both students and faculty. I saw her on numerous occasions encouraging students to take on new challenges, to be confident in their abilities, and to work hard and succeed," he said.

"A great many former students kept in touch with her over the years, attesting to the impacts that she had on them, something that was also reflected in their nomination of her for an advisor of the year award. Last year the Political Science Department held its first alumni reunion, and many of our former graduates spoke publicly about their experiences as students in our program, and about Tracey's impact on them, in particular," Chapin said.

Funeral service, memorials

Tracey Gladstone-Sovell, 54, of Birchwood, died Feb. 4, 2009, after a year-and-a-half-long battle with cancer.

Mrs. Gladstone-Sovell was a political science professor at UW-River Falls, where teaching and her students were the focus of her life. She cherished the time she spent with her students and with her colleagues at UW-RF. They were her university family.

Mrs. Gladstone-Sovell was also an avid knitter, finding it to be a relaxing pastime.

She was preceded in death by her father, Arthur; mother, Shari; and brother, Gary.

She is survived by her husband, Jim Sovell; many nieces and nephews; and relatives and friends.

A funeral service was held Monday at Hodroff-Epstein Memorial Chapel in Minneapolis.

The family prefers memorials to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Ramsey County Humane Society, or UW-River Falls Political Science Foundation.