Distinguished Teachers’ Alumni Welcome Two More to the Fold
Two more UKZN academics entered the hallowed halls of the Distinguished Teachers’ Alumni this year. The announcement was made at the University’s 2017 Graduation Ceremonies.
Dr Cecile Proches, lecturer in the Graduate School of Business and Leadership in the College of Law and Management Studies and Dr Vittorio Tramontin, lecturer in the School of Engineering in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science join a long list of illustrious alumni dating back to 1995. The pair were honoured at a celebratory dinner hosted by the UKZN Teaching and Learning Office at the Maharani Hotel recently.
The master of ceremonies, Professor Nyna Amin, kicked off the event praising the recipients as extraordinary talent that promoted creative thinking and were successful in capturing the hearts and minds of their students.
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld welcomed everyone and congratulated the recipients on their extraordinary effort. He thanked them for raising the standard of teaching and learning at the University.
Congratulating the distinguished teachers, Professor Bala Pillay, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning said, ‘Becoming effective teachers is a South African challenge, a challenge which UKZN’s teachers had embraced’. He added that academics needed to be committed to making strides in the area of decolonisation of our curriculum. This required innovative thinking and design strategies, including radical approaches to assessment.
Stephen Coetzee and Astrid Schmulian from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Accounting delivered the keynote address. They shared their thoughts on teaching, challenges experienced and their response to those challenges. Coetzee and Schmulian took the audience through the process they had undertaken to transform their teaching and research. They outlined how they searched for innovative ways to improve student outcomes. They reached into the students’ universe, embracing YouTube, flipping the rule-based lecture out of class to cyberspace, supported by Webinars and an AI tutor.
Dr Rubby Dhunpath, Director of Teaching and Learning had just returned from a Council on Higher Education/Department of Higher Education and Training national workshop on improving the effectiveness of university teaching. He recounted discussions around how universities needed to recognise and reward good teaching. He expressed pride at the monetary incentive of R75 000 for each distinguished teacher, which was amongst the highest awards for Teaching and Learning in the country.
Dr Vittorio Tramontin expressed his gratitude to the University for having selected him for this award. He went on to say that, he had become a teacher because he strongly believes in the power of education in advancing our society. He said education is the basis for improving ourselves as pro-active members of the community. He added that being at UKZN has been an exceptional learning experience and that he realised how deeply many of our students believe in Higher Education as the primary way to improve the lives of their families. As a teacher, he found this to be especially inspiring and an additional motivation to take greater responsibility to help students learn and work towards this end.
In her acceptance speech, Dr Cecile Proches expressed her gratitude to all of her mentors, teachers and family. She said that she was privileged to have had such excellent mentors who taught her how to work with postgraduate adult students and how to teach in an interactive manner. She said that she considered it a privilege to teach and supervise adult working students some of whom were in mid-management positions in the private and public sectors. She was grateful for the commitment displayed by her students and it was a pleasure to share with them the experience of being a working, part-time student and mother. She added that she was indeed honoured and humbled to receive this award.
Whilst only two awards were awarded this year, the University can confer up to four university-wide Distinguished Teachers’ Awards annually. Awardees are recognised at the annual Graduation Ceremonies and are able to showcase their work at the annual Teaching and Learning Conferences.
A video presentation captured the recipients in their classrooms as well interviews conducted with their students and colleagues. Students and peers alike were generous in their praise for both recipients of the Distinguished Teachers’ Awards.
The Distinguished Teachers’ Awards dinner recognises the previous recipients of the award as well as the role teaching and learning plays in promoting and supporting the educational endeavours of the University.