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Published April 30, 2018
A University of Wyoming information technology trainer has been recognized with UW’s inaugural Marvin Millgate Engaged Staff Award for coordinating technology to provide 300 college credits to 200 incarcerated people in Wyoming.
Alec Muthig, who works in Information Technology Client Support Services, was honored for supporting learning and development through community engagement and building strong, reciprocal relationships between the campus and people outside the university.
“Alec is a nationally recognized leader in mobilizing technological innovation to provide people in prison with access to higher education, which research consistently finds to be the single most significant factor in reducing recidivism and improving public safety,” says Susan Dewey, associate professor in UW’s School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice, and founding member of the Wyoming Pathways from Prison (WPfP) project. “As a Wyoming Pathways from Prison leader, Alec has pioneered initiatives to ensure seamless course delivery through remote instruction in ways that emphasize personalized learning.”
In addition to coordinating technology, Muthig co-taught -- using his vacation time -- an “Introduction to Stoic Philosophy” course at two state prisons, using a down-to-earth approach that reduced instances of violence in the prison. The course provides direct impacts to everyday life in prison, as prisoners become leaders in practicing stoic philosophy, which emphasizes detachment from conflict.
WPfP, a collaborative effort with the Wyoming Department of Corrections and Eastern Wyoming College, provides high-quality college courses to incarcerated women and men at no cost through UW volunteers. In 2017, WPfP won the Correctional Education Association’s national award for innovation -- the Austin MacCormick Award -- to honor its innovative approach to providing no-cost education to prisoners. The Department of Corrections also recently nominated WPfP for the National Criminal Justice Association’s Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award.
“To help a community flourish requires that you uplift all members of that community, including the incarcerated,” Muthig says. “While our Pathways team is passionate about what we have done and hope to accomplish in the coming year, receiving this award is deeply appreciated because it demonstrates support from the university community, reinforces our commitment to serve those who want to improve themselves and reintegrate into their families and society, and perhaps offers others a sliver of inspiration to outreach and engage.”
The Marvin Millgate Community Engagement Awards were established by President Laurie Nichols and Provost Kate Miller, in cooperation with UW’s Engagement Task Force, to recognize collaborative teaching and research that extend beyond the UW campus. The selected honorees each receive $1,000, which may be used to fund additional engagement work by the recipients.
Dewey received the Marvin Millgate Engaged Faculty Award; the Student Engagement Award went to Dilnoza Khasilova, a Ph.D. student in the College of Education; and the Excellence in Community Partnership Award was won by the Wyoming Conservation Exchange, a partnership among UW Extension faculty members and the Environmental Defense Fund, Sublette County Conservation District, the Wyoming Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
“I am excited that UW has launched its efforts in engagement and outreach by acknowledging the outstanding work of three of our own,” says Jean Garrison, who chairs the Engagement Task Force. “The faculty, staff and student recipients as well as the community partnership award for the first Marvin Millgate Community Engagement Awards are exemplary representatives for the important and innovative work being done across the state of Wyoming by UW and our partners.”