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Published May 25, 2023
Gabel Taggart, a University of Wyoming assistant professor, has mastered how to seamlessly deliver quality courses to all of his students statewide.
Taggart plays a vital role in the UW School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies’ distance education Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program. The program prepares pre- and in-service students for a variety of public-sector roles, including leadership, management and administrative positions in government and nonprofit organizations. The teaching position is challenging because the MPA Program serves a mixture of off-campus students, with most being nontraditional, part-time students working full-time jobs, as well as some full-time, on-campus traditional students.
For helping to deliver a quality program to all of his students statewide, Taggart 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.”
Calling Taggart “simply a very good and caring instructor,” Robert Schuhmann, a professor in the UW School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, and the MPA Program director, says Taggart spends his energy thinking through the classroom dynamics and modern pedagogical approaches to the distance education environment. He says the program uses hybrid instructional methods involving Zoom.
“Dr. Taggart treats on- and off-campus students alike, while recognizing that distance students can sometimes feel disconnected from the classroom. He makes special efforts to foster the contributions of distance students and also creates an intellectual space that fosters discussion and the integration of both on- and off-campus students equally,” Schuhmann adds. “Distance delivery and, in particular, distance delivery for graduate students, can be a challenging environment, and Dr. Taggart has the energy, desire and professional thoughtfulness to make it work effortlessly.”
A former student praised Taggart’s approach to connect with all students.
“One thing that struck me during my first year in the program was Dr. Taggart’s ability to connect with students of various backgrounds across the virtual space,” the student says. “It seems this comes at least, in part, from a willingness to adapt and innovate, in addition to an intellectual empathy enabling a keen understanding of where each student in the class is and where they are going.”
Another student adds, “Dr. Taggart has always challenged me as a student through his curriculum and teaching style. He is very understanding and empathetic of the student experience but doesn’t compromise on quality.”
Taggart also teaches select undergraduate courses in the political science major, such as “Introduction to Public Administration,” and he has become an important resource for Master of Arts programs, as he currently chairs two master’s students in international studies.
“Dr. Taggart is a talented teacher whose teaching evaluations regularly exceed department and college benchmarks. However, he does not rest on his laurels,” says Stephanie Anderson, a professor and head of the School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies. “In his self-reflection and in conversations with him, I am always struck by how thoughtful he is about student comments. The students, in turn, recognize that they are being heard. They note he is excellent and engaged, but also challenging. I cannot think of a better compliment.”
Taggart received both his bachelor’s degree in accounting (2010) and Master of Public Policy (2013) degrees from Brigham Young University; and his doctoral degree (2017) in public administration and policy from Arizona State University.