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UW College of Education Names Award Recipients

August 27, 2021
Ali Bicer, Amanda DeDiego, Barbara Hickman, Janet Lear, Tiffany LeGal and Bret Sorensen

The University of Wyoming College of Education recently honored five faculty members and a staff member for their outstanding accomplishments.

Each year, the college recognizes select faculty, staff and graduate students by presenting awards and a $750 stipend to each recipient. The faculty and staff awards are selected by the dean and two associate deans from a pool of nominations. Other awards are determined by past recipients, the chair of the college’s Tenure and Promotion Committee, and other college administrators as determined by the dean.

There are seven award categories: Faculty Award for Outstanding Advising; Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions Toward Improving the Climate of the College; Faculty Award for Outstanding Research and Scholarship; Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to the Education Profession; Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching; Outstanding Graduate Student Award for Significant Accomplishments; and Staff Award for Outstanding Service to the College. The graduate student award was not given this year because of a lack of nominees.

This year’s award recipients are:

Faculty Award for Outstanding Advising

Amanda DeDiego, an assistant professor of counseling at UW-Casper, received the outstanding advising award for the passionate support she provides to her students. She regularly meets with her students to help them strategize about their future and to share local and national opportunities that will push them to flourish beyond their current comfort zones.

“It is clear to me that Amanda’s role as a counselor educator is a calling, not a job. She regards our advising time as meaningful and conveys this by patiently and sincerely listening to my worries,” wrote one of her students in a nomination letter.

Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions Toward Improving the Climate of the College

Bret Sorensen, technology coordinator for the College of Education, was recognized for his integral support of faculty and staff members as they wrestled with technology during the move to online learning because of the pandemic.

“During a technology glitch in my first week at UW, I had occasion to witness Bret’s modus operandi. Bret was easy to reach and was there within minutes. His calm demeanor was contagious. He fiddled with a few wires and pushed some buttons, and everything worked again. Then, he gave me a few quick tips about how to avoid another similar technology glitch in the future, and he disappeared,” a nominator wrote.

Faculty Award for Outstanding Research and Scholarship

Ali Bicer, an assistant professor of mathematics education, received the outstanding research and scholarship award for the impact his research abilities and high-quality publications are making at UW, nationally and internationally. Bicer has 598 citations and an h-index of 13 on Google Scholar. The h-index is a measure of scholarly significance that combines an assessment of the number of publications and the number of citations to those publications. Since joining UW in 2018, Bicer has published 17 refereed journal articles -- of which he is the lead or sole author of 11 of the articles -- and three book chapters.

“Throughout the articles, Dr. Bicer and his co-authors do an outstanding job of introducing the subject at hand; presenting a coherent and thorough review of relevant research studies; giving an overview of the research methods used in the study; and then clearly presenting, analyzing and discussing the research findings and the implications of those findings,” wrote a faculty colleague who nominated Bicer.

Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to the Education Profession

Barbara Hickman, an assistant professor, was honored for her dedication to the Educational Leadership Program. She provides personalized support to her students and is deeply involved in research while serving as the only full-time faculty member in the program. In addition to her teaching and research responsibilities, she has rebooted the annual state education law, policy and leadership conference, and she represents UW on the international stage through her work with the EdTech Genome Project. Hickman also was recently named the recipient of the 2021 Mary Garland Early Career Fellowship, which will support her research activities.

“She has been the structural integrity of the whole Educational Leadership Program while it is in transition. She submitted the Professional Teaching Standards Board program review for the master’s in educational leadership, and she has another program review due this year for the doctoral program. This is all in addition to teaching as well as the huge advising load that she carries,” a nominator wrote.

Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching

Janet Lear, an assistant lecturer, received the outstanding teaching award for her ability to connect with her students through kindness and impact their success in UW’s teacher preparation program. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she has volunteered time to support the college’s Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation accreditation. Lear was a 2020 recipient of a Top Prof award from members of the UW Cap and Gown Chapter of Mortar Board.

“Janet is student focused and made sure I learned what I needed to be a successful teacher. That student-focused mindset was really helpful for me. She even reached out to me to make sure everything was OK regarding COVID-19 since I work in the residence halls. Those emails were extremely appreciated and, for some teachers, that is going the extra mile, but it seems like a normal occurrence in Janet’s teaching style,” a student wrote in a course evaluation.

Staff Award for Outstanding Service to the College

Tiffany LeGal, an office associate in the School of Counseling, Leadership, Advocacy and Design (CLAD), received the staff award for the exceptional service she provides to students and faculty in her programs. LeGal, a longtime CLAD team member, has been a consistent source of information to those who come to her for guidance. Her institutional knowledge was invaluable to ensuring a smooth transition in CLAD administration in 2020 and helped the new leaders take over the reins with ease.

“Tiffany provides exceptional service to our faculty and students as a front-line point of contact for three program areas in CLAD. There are a great many moving parts and challenges to the programs she supports, and a correspondingly high degree of complexity in addressing the range of student, faculty and programmatic issues, which arise regularly. Tiffany manages her responsibilities within those programs with aplomb and an unfailingly positive outlook,” wrote the faculty member who nominated her.

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