A number of academics from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences were celebrated when the University of Pretoria hosted its annual Academic Achievers Awards on 9 May 2017.
UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, noted that, 'this year's awards have a special significance, as 2016 was a particularly challenging year for South African universities. Student protests across the higher education sector meant that academics had to show exceptional resilience and innovation to ensure that students could complete their academic year, whilst continuity in research and community service was maintained.'
Among those honoured on the night was Prof Alexander Zimper from the Department of Economics. He received the Exceptional Academic Achiever Award, which is conferred on senior academics who are highly regarded by their peers and consistently excel in the areas of under- and postgraduate teaching and learning, research, community service and administration. He modestly said, 'I kind of feel that I got lucky. Although I am working hard, others do as well. I hope my best research is still to come.'
Prof Stephen Coetzee from the Department of Accounting received the Exceptional Young Researcher Award, which recognises achievers in the field of research who contribute towards the University's strategic goals of achieving academic excellence, international competitiveness and local relevance.
According to him, 'an award is never ever just about the person that receives it. To think that would be arrogant in the extreme. Awards are the culmination of many stars aligning and others playing a significant role in the journey. It is always hard to be the one singled out, because there are others who have contributed massively and should be on the podium with you. I am really proud of the Department of Accounting for the achievements, both seen and unseen, in teaching and research these past few years. There is an abundance of wonderfully talented people in the Department.'
Echoing Prof Coetzee's sentiments are the team winners of the Teaching Excellence Laureate Award, Mses Corlia Joynt and Madelyn Cloete, who explained that, 'this award has motivated us to continue on our journey to inspire critical thinking and life-long learning through innovative and evidence-based teaching practices. This would not have been possible without the unconditional support of our HOD, Prof Madeleine Stiglingh, and the other staff members in our team.'
The award they received was in recognition of their contribution to best practice in teaching and displaying significant evidence of innovation to address identified challenges. They go on to say: 'We appreciate the recognition of our constant strive towards excellence in Accounting education. The nomination process, more specifically the compilation of our portfolio of proof during a trying time in higher education in South Africa, re-enforced our belief that through passion and commitment, any challenge can be transformed into an opportunity for growth.'
The spotlight was also shone on the following researchers for their National Research Foundation ratings:
Congratulating the winners on behalf of the Faculty, the Dean Prof Elsabé Loots stated: 'I trust that this recognition will motivate you to reach even further heights in your academic career.'
Watch a video recording of the awards function.
Read the Academic Achievers Awards publication.