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Published June 13, 2022
Li Li and Paul Maddox are the first recipients of the Zimmerman Faculty Fellowship that supports the work of junior and midcareer faculty members at the University of Wyoming-Casper.
A $250,000 gift from retired UW-Casper faculty member Gail Zimmerman established the permanent fund for faculty fellowships each year. The award allows UW-Casper 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 also have the opportunity to use the fellowship for course redesign or other instructional purposes.
Li, an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism, and Maddox, a College of Education counselor education assistant professor, will use the award to further their respective research.
Faculty members at a branch campus often face greater challenges in the tenure and promotion process, UW-Casper Dean Brent Pickett says.
“Our longtime supporter, Dr. Gail Zimmerman, as a former UW-Casper faculty member who had an active research program while at UW-Casper, well understands this,” Pickett says. “Dr. Li Li and Dr. Paul Maddox put together strong applications, and I am pleased they are our first recipients. Their fellowships -- focusing on the scholarship of teaching and learning, and research into play therapy techniques for children -- speak to the breadth of scholarship that is happening at UW’s sole branch campus.”
With her fellowship, Li will focus on students’ online learning experiences. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, she already had been teaching online courses since 2012.
“My research agenda has always been around distance education,” Li says. “Even after the pandemic, online education is still going to thrive, especially since that is what some of us do at UW-Casper.”
She plans to submit her research paper to the 2023 National Communication Association annual conference.
“Dr. Zimmerman understands how difficult it is for a faculty member at a branch campus to do research because we have very limited resources and we are so isolated from the main UW campus,” Li adds. “This award is a tremendous opportunity, and I am so honored to have been selected as one of the first to receive it.”
Maddox says the Zimmerman Faculty Fellowship will support his research into the experiences and perceptions of Wyoming education professionals -- such as school counselors, teachers and other school-based clinicians and professionals -- regarding professional development and training for implementing play therapy and play-based interventions in schools.
Options in Wyoming for professional development and training regarding play-based interventions are limited and often require education professionals in various parts of the state to travel hundreds of miles, he says.
“Because of this, the proposed project seeks to facilitate trainings and professional development opportunities in communities across Wyoming and engage with professionals from those communities to explore their experiences in participating in play therapy and play-based, intervention-related professional development and training opportunities closer to home,” Maddox says.
He says the goals of his proposed project include facilitating research that informs and supports a broader plan of developing a network of play therapy training labs across the state.
“Through these labs, play therapy and play-based intervention trainings and professional development opportunities could be provided in a more accessible manner to professionals in rural or underserved areas, allowing them to better serve children and families in their communities,” he adds.