What started off as a departmental initiative grew exponentially and culminated in an awards ceremony where excellence in teaching was celebrated at Faculty level.
At the last [email protected] event for 2019, cluster awards in all four clusters (Biological Sciences, Food and Agricultural Sciences, Mathematical Sciences and Physical Sciences, in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS)) were made to celebrate excellence in teaching.
Prof Marietjie Potgieter, Deputy Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Faculty, explained how the idea of these awards culminated from a vision she had for teaching and learning in the Faculty. “Following the established tradition in the mathematical sciences to award excellence in teaching annually, I invited the other three clusters to develop procedures to do the same. The heads of departments embraced the idea and formed small steering committees to identify one winner per cluster.”
The first winner of the Excellence in Teaching award in the Food and Agricultural Sciences cluster is Dr Lizette Diedericks from the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences. Dr Lynne Pilcher from the Department of Chemistry won the first award in the Physical Sciences cluster. As the Biological Sciences cluster is also very large, two winners were announced: Dr Quenton Kritzinger (Department of Plant and Soil Sciences) and Dr Heike Lutermann (Department of Zoology and Entomology). The Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics made two awards during their annual Bosberaad, which was also celebrated at this event. Dr Rory Biggs won the award for Excellence in Teaching and Ms Hanlie Venter for adding value to teaching. Another award in the Mathematical Sciences cluster for Excellence in Teaching went to Ms Jocelyn Mazarura from the Department of Statistics.
Dr Ina Louw, Educational Consultant for the Faculty, is also very instrumental in cultivating teaching excellence in the Faculty. “We always strive to innovate and work with passion and energy towards even higher standards of excellence.”
Prof Potgieter also shared that the Faculty nominated Dr Rory Biggs for the UP Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2020.
As Prof Potgieter concluded the event, she quoted Parker J Palmer, a world-renowned writer, speaker and activist to emphasise her and the rest of the teaching staff in the Faculty’s sentiments: “When you love your work that much – and many teachers do – the only way to get out of trouble is to get deeper in. We must enter, not evade, the tangles of teaching so we can understand them better and negotiate them with more grace, not only to guard our own spirits but also to serve the students well.”