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Published May 23, 2022
Justin Piccorelli’s teaching philosophy emphasizes equity, community and discussion, all of which are complicated by having some of his University of Wyoming students in an actual classroom and others spread out across the state.
Piccorelli, an associate professor in the UW School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, teaches courses that cater to both traditional and nontraditional students across the state. Some are in-person courses, while others are delivered through Zoom.
For seamlessly delivering quality courses to all of his students statewide, Piccorelli is recognized as this year’s recipient of the Hollon Family Award for Teaching Excellence in Off-Campus Programs. In 1986, C.E. “Jerry” Hollon, a former UW trustee, established the award to recognize “contributions to the general extension outreach programs of the university.”
Stephanie Anderson, a professor and head of the UW School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, says Piccorelli incorporates the latest technology into his teaching, bringing experiential learning to a new level.
“His dedication to the students of Wyoming, wherever they may be, only makes his contribution that much more valuable and deserving of recognition,” Anderson says.
Piccorelli teaches courses in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. His courses include “Administrative Behavior and Theory of Organization”; “Capstone in Public Management”; “Ethics in Government”; and “Technology and Public Administration,” a special course he designed.
The courses are taught through intensive weekends, online, via Zoom and in a traditional classroom environment. His students range from younger, on-campus, full-time UW students to nontraditional, midcareer, off-campus students.
“Even to the most seasoned instructor, teaching such a wide array of students from such diverse backgrounds would be a challenge, let alone with such a variety of teaching platforms. Professor Piccorelli does it with aplomb,” Anderson says. “Coming from a diverse background himself, having had a career in finance, he can draw upon his experiences to connect with all of his students.”
Beyond his instructional capability, however, is Piccorelli’s desire to bring high-quality instructional technology to distance students, according to a pair of his colleagues.
“To begin, Dr. Piccorelli is simply a very good teacher,” say Professors Gregg Cawley and Robert Schuhmann. “Having mastered the course content, he then spends his energy thinking through the classroom dynamics of the distance education environment. Dr. Piccorelli has worked extremely hard to outfit our program’s classrooms with the best technology available.”
Piccorelli’s students appreciate his efforts, with his evaluation scores usually exceeding college and department benchmarks. The students also frequently note the intellectual rigor of his courses.
“My favorite aspect of the class was the discussion-based format,” one student says. “I like this style of class better because you are not just listening to someone lecture to you for hours on end. This way, I can contribute my ideas in a setting that is comfortable too.”
Another student adds that Piccorelli’s capstone course was “nearly painless.”
“As a daunting class, Dr. P’s approach put everything in perspective and gave us the best sense of what to expect. At all times, I felt prepared and knew exactly what was expected of me,” the student writes. “Dr. P is dedicated to ensuring students are the best and most well-rounded version of themselves. He gave us an additional leadership textbook, which was thoughtful and appreciated.”
Piccorelli received his B.A. in political science (2004) from Loyola Marymount University; and an MPA in economic development (2009) and a Ph.D. (2014) in public administration, both from Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.