"Last week was pretty much the most exciting week of my life," Dove said Tuesday, though he acknowledges that his initial awe quickly evolved into nervousness about his new title. "It's a lot to live up to -- especially when I think about all of the great work that was submitted."
Now in its 62nd year, the College Photographer of the Year competition drew entries from 461 student photographers at 88 colleges and universities in 10 countries. Staffers from the Detroit Free Press, San Jose Mercury News, National Geographic and South Florida Sun-Sentinel judged the 10,645 still images and 122 multimedia projects Nov. 4-9 at the University of Missouri.
In all, 15 Ohio University students earned awards. Their total of 28 awards outpaced the next closest school by 15 awards. There were no winners from other Ohio schools.
Terry Eiler, director of the School of Visual Communication, said it was a documentary project on Skatopia, a skate park in Rutland, Ohio, for a class taught by former Visiting Professional Bruce Strong where Dove's talent really blossomed.
"Travis is a hard-working, quiet photojournalist," Eiler said. "His involvement in the project on Skatopia coupled with his internship at the Charlotte Observer really set him up to be the College Photographer of the Year."
Dove said working on the Skatopia documentary gave him the chance to receive helpful one-on-one advice and encouragement from Strong. "I had several meetings with Bruce to discuss how the documentary was going," Dove said. "He's not just a great professor, he's a great person."
Eiler said he and other faculty members were blown away by Ohio University students' accomplishments in this year's competition. "This is the first time we have won College Photographer of the Year back to back," he noted. "This year's students have won more gold medals than ever before, and this is the third time in a row Ohio University students haven taken more than 29 percent of the awards."
Dove, on the other hand, wasn't all that shocked by the accolades. "I'm not surprised at all because I know how hard everyone, both students and faculty, has been working here. It's just nice to see the school recognized in that way."
Eiler said the competition is the oldest of its kind in the country and offers students the chance to compete against photographers from large and small schools as well as specialty arts and photography institutions.
"I don't know of any other competition as broad based as this one," he said. "The results from this competition reflect very much on our great students and faculty. We have an awful lot of students working hard and doing great work."
Cliff and Vi Edom founded the College Photographer of the Year competition in 1945. Today, the University of Missouri administers the contest with support from co-sponsor Nikon Inc. There are no entry fees, and winners in individual categories are awarded equipment and additional educational opportunities from Nikon, the Poynter Institute and the Missouri Photo Workshop.
Awards will be presented at the POYi/CPOY Awards Presentation and Education Days on April 17-18 in Washington, D.C.
This story was updated on Nov. 19 to correct hometown and class rank.