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Published October 06, 2021
A $250,000 gift from retired University of Wyoming at Casper faculty member Gail Zimmerman will establish a permanent fund that supports the work of junior and midcareer faculty -- the first fellowship of its kind at UW-Casper.
The faculty fellowship will allow one or two faculty members to obtain course release, to purchase laboratory equipment or to engage in activities that will help them toward tenure, extended-term status or promotion in their careers. Professional lecturers with high teaching loads will have the opportunity to use the fellowship for course redesign or other instructional purposes.
“When I was in Casper, there were only two of us with active research agendas,” Zimmerman says. “I know from personal experience that it is a more challenging environment when you’re off the main campus.”
The Dr. Gail D. Zimmerman Faculty Fellowship will help retain UW-Casper’s talented faculty and set up junior and midcareer faculty for long-term success, which will better serve students and the UW community in central Wyoming.
“Most of the faculty at UW-Casper are junior or midcareer,” says Brent Pickett, UW-Casper dean. “Retaining those talented, award-winning faculty and recruiting the strongest candidates when we have open positions are critical to the success of UW’s sole branch campus. Dr. Zimmerman’s generous gift will greatly help us in those efforts.”
Zimmerman was a professor at Casper College before he began his career with UW-Casper. During his time as a professor, he not only enriched students with his teaching, but also had an active research agenda. As a result of his involvement in research, Zimmerman understands the challenges that come with making progress in reappointment and tenure at a branch campus -- which led to this gift.
“As someone who went through the promotion process while at a branch campus, I know it can be challenging. The people voting just don’t have as much of a chance to get to know you and your work as someone who is at UW-Laramie,” Zimmerman says.
UW-Casper, originally University of Wyoming/Casper College Center, was founded in 1976 with Pete Simpson as its director. Casper’s convenient central location made higher education more accessible for site-bound students who could not make the move to Laramie.
The branch campus offers small class sizes taught by experienced faculty while also creating a tight-knit community in Wyoming’s second-largest city. For the past 45 years, UW-Casper has served its students and the state of Wyoming.
This is not the first philanthropic venture for Zimmerman. Along with the faculty fellowship, he contributed to UW’s student emergency fund, a student leadership fund, and a nontraditional and first-generation scholarship for students enrolled at UW-Casper. He also created the Zimmerman Secondary Science Education Award and is a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.
Apart from teaching, Zimmerman served in the Wyoming State Legislature for 14 years -- first as a representative and then as a member of the Wyoming Senate.