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UW’s Pickett Receives Hollon Family Award

April 15, 2019
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Brent Pickett, a professor in UW’s School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, is the winner of the 2019 Hollon Family Award for Teaching Excellence in Off-campus Programs.

A Casper-based pillar of the University of Wyoming School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies (SPPAIS) who helped pioneer the use of the web-conference tool Zoom to deliver courses has been recognized for his contributions to UW.

Professor Brent Pickett, a longtime UW-Casper and SPPAIS faculty member, is the recipient of the 2019 Hollon Family Award for Teaching Excellence in Off-campus Programs. In 1986, C.E. “Jerry” Hollon, former UW trustee, established the award to recognize “contributions to the general extension outreach programs of the university.”

“Professor Pickett has been a crucial faculty member for our distance education program, teaching both purely online classes and via Zoom. Over the past two years, he has often demonstrated his versatility by teaching an online course, a Zoom-based course and a face-to-face course all at the same time,” wrote Professor Stephanie Anderson, SPPAIS head. “Moreover, he always adapts his instruction to the technology, which includes reshaping the syllabus and other fundamentals of course design. Working at UW-Casper, he has managed to close the gap between Laramie and the state to offer a first-class education to UW students everywhere.”

Pickett, who began his UW career in 2005 as an associate professor of political science at UW-Casper, is SPPAIS’ primary teacher of political philosophy for all UW students. He teaches five classes every year, ranging from “American and Wyoming Government” (POLS 1000) online to 3000-level and graduate-level courses. Anderson says his courses are almost always full, and he regularly receives high scores in student evaluations.

“I can’t say enough about how positive my experience was with this exceptional professor,” wrote Jill Bogart Barker, who last fall took POLS 1000, her first college course in 30 years. “His support and well-organized class syllabus helped me seamlessly enter back into the role of student and helped me to realize the opportunity to return to school to finish my degree. I can’t thank him enough.”

Pickett was one of the first UW faculty members to use Zoom, teaching seven classes with the technology since spring 2016.

“I believe Dr. Pickett does an excellent job connecting with students, fostering intellectually stimulating conversation, being available to students and does it all amazingly well through Zoom software,” wrote Lucas Hansen, a former student and now graduate assistant for Pickett. “The off-campus aspect is not a hindrance to students wanting to connect and learn from him. Instead, it’s a benefit because he makes himself so available, wherever he is.”

Additionally, Pickett developed and taught a graduate-level course, in the summer of 2018, titled “Topics in Comparative Education Policy: U.S. Versus Finland.” It involved study abroad in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland; interactive Zoom sessions; and follow-up course projects. The course will run again this summer.

“This combination of activities supported high levels of authentic learning for all students,” wrote UW College of Education Professor Allen Trent, one of the students in the first course. “Brent’s classes assist teachers (and other students) as they acquire new strategies and understand the underlying knowledge bases and theories that support various educational systems and practices. Brent has the ability to engage students around these topics in ways that excite them and help them to retain and use the knowledge and skills acquired in his classes.”

Pickett, whose current research focuses on paternalistic interventions by state entities, received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wichita State University in 1989 and earned his master’s (1991) and doctoral (1995) degrees in political science from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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