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Professor Tawnya Plumb Receives Faculty Engagement Fellowship Award

November 25, 2019
Tawnya Plumb Headshot

In an effort to encourage and promote engagement in the community with the University of Wyoming, the Office of Engagement and Outreach (OEO) invited UW faculty to submit proposals for Faculty Engagement Fellowships.

Three University of Wyoming faculty members were selected as recipients of the 2019 Faculty Engagement Fellowship awards, representing a wide range of disciplines.

They are:

— Caleb Hill, chemistry assistant professor, an Office of Engagement and Outreach (OEO) STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Faculty Engagement Fellowship. The fellowship is a partnership with the UW Science Initiative to help build capacity to coordinate STEM-related outreach/engagement programming. Hill will work with OEO, STEM faculty and existing STEM outreach and inreach programs to coordinate previously siloed programs and build future outreach and inreach capacity.

— Corrine Knapp, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources assistant professor, an OEO Faculty Engagement Fellowship. The fellowship is open to all disciplines, with preference given to projects from faculty outside of STEM and humanities disciplines.

— Tawnya Plumb, College of Law associate librarian, an OEO-Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research (WIHR) Faculty Engagement Fellowship. The fellowship is a partnership with WIHR and OEO to help build capacity in humanities engagement/outreach programming. The fellowship will enhance joint work between WIHR and OEO in engaged teaching/service learning, engaged scholarship and community engagement/outreach.

The competition attracted proposals from a broad range of disciplines across UW, from people working in public engagement, engaged teaching, engaged scholarship and outreach focused on community impacts.

The awards are for faculty members working on projects during the 2020 calendar year. Fellows receive a stipend of $10,000 and up to $2,000 to support outreach programs and travel expenses. Recipients will work with OEO Director Jean Garrison to develop their projects and organize at least one significant outreach program series both on and off campus. Projects focus on faculty development or enhancing engagement and outreach in their respective fields of study.

This is the first faculty engagement fellowship competition, and it attracted more than a dozen strong applicants from across campus, Garrison says. She says the selection committee, composed of members of UW’s Engagement Council, had “some tough choices to make.”

“I am pleased that our three recipients represent such a wide range of projects involving UW undergraduate and graduate students representing partnerships with K-12, community colleges and county libraries,” Garrison says. “I look forward to working with each one of them as we build a team of those who champion engagement work at UW. These awards demonstrate the commitment on the part of OEO and its partners to build capacity in our statewide and outreach mission.”

She adds that the fellowships, along with UW’s Marvin Millgate Awards for faculty, staff, students and community partners, are the top awards given by OEO.

The College of Law is extremely proud of Professor Plumb and the recognition this award brings to her outstanding service and dedication to both academia and the community.

Plumb’s project is “Access to Justice: Legal Research on the Road.” Plumb says many individuals find legal research intimidating, and she adds that librarians wish they knew more about legal research. Librarians often field requests from low-income Wyoming citizens with legal issues, she adds.

Wyoming’s two public law libraries are both located in southeast Wyoming, and there are four law librarians in the state. Plumb is among the four law librarians, and her project will be “giving back to the state.” She will offer in-person, community-tailored legal research training sessions in all 23 Wyoming county libraries, the community colleges and on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

A survey of state librarians is scheduled for spring and summer 2020 that will assess the public’s legal research needs. A tailored presentation, as well as handouts that address these needs and a research toolkit that includes a list of recommended legal titles, will provide the format for the research.

“To alleviate ethics concerns, the parameters within which librarians may assist patrons, while still honoring the rules governing the unauthorized practice of law, will be highlighted,” Plumb says.

Scott Henkel, WIHR director, says he is thrilled with Plumb’s selection working as a humanities engagement fellow.

“Having greater access to legal information is vital for our state and its people in our current era of mass incarceration,” Henkel says. “Tawnya’s work is among the best expressions of engaged humanities work, with its attention to increasing access to knowledge, and a commitment to ethics and empowerment. Her work will help make our state more equitable and just.”

Professor Plumb earned a B.A. in English from the University of Wyoming in 1996 and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas in 1998. She is the Head of Collections at the George W. Hopper Law Library. She worked previously as a law librarian at the Texas State Law Library and then with a Texas law firm before moving to Japan to teach English as a second language in Japanese high schools. She became a librarian at the University of Wyoming College of Law in 2004 and teaches Legal Research and continuing legal education programs at the University of Wyoming College of Law.

For more information about the fellowship winners and awards, click here.

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