Lecturers follow Sheens’ example, take up winning

Lecturers follow Sheens’ example, take up winning

University of Otago lecturers Doctor Rhiannon Braund, Associate Professor Steve Dawson, and Associate Professor Anthony Robins have won the three annual University Teaching Awards awarded by Otago. These awards recognise an “outstanding ability to teach”, and are generally awarded to those willing to experiment with their teaching methods. Dr Braund and Associate Prof. Robins also received recognition at a national awards ceremony.

Dr Braund, of the School of Pharmacy, was “overwhelmed”. Accepting her award, she attributed her achievement to her passion for her chosen field: “I want the best for the profession and for the students.” Dr Braund went on to win the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award at the national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony held on Tuesday July 17. Otago Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne described Dr Braund’s achievement as “well-deserved” and her teaching ability as “world-class”.

Assoc. Prof. Dawson, of the Department of Marine Science, called the award a “wonderful honour”. He pointed to Otago’s dual focus on both research and teaching quality as his recipe for success: “The best universities must strive for a balance.” In his speech he spoke of how his teaching was all about engaging students, as all great teachers have done: “The more I can capture their imagination, the more they will learn.” Prof. Gary Wilson, Head of the Department of Marine Science, stated that Assoc. Prof. Dawson embodied Otago’s reputation as the top research university in the country: “At all levels of his teaching he draws directly on his research experience.”

Assoc. Prof. Robins, a Computer Science lecturer, is a leading researcher in the field of Computer Science Education. He told the crowd that it may be his area of expertise that pushes him to be so good at teaching – computer science evolves so quickly that he is “forced to innovate whether I like it or not.” Assoc. Prof. Robins also came away with recognition from the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards ceremony, winning an award for sustained excellence in tertiary teaching.

The deserving recipients receive $7500, to be used to support learning and teaching. Both Dr Braund and Assoc. Prof. Robins received national awards to the tune of $30,000 and $20,000 respectively. The three winners all took time to praise their colleagues, insisting that there are many other talented teachers at Otago and that the trio are “only the tip of the iceberg”.
This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2012.
Posted 10:46am Sunday 22nd July 2012 by Josie Adams.