Pacific Media Centre director Associate Professor David Robie is one of a group of AUT University academics who were awarded a Vice-Chancellor’s award for excellence last night.
Recipients were nominated by students and colleagues for the VC’s Award for Excellence in Teaching for their outstanding contribution and innovative style.
“Being nominated came out of the blue. I feel both honoured and humbled to achieve this at AUT which has so many innovative and gifted teachers on its staff,” said Dr Robie.
“The efforts of my support crew and students in this award are hugely appreciated.”
Director of teaching and learning at AUT University Dr Stanley Frielick described the purpose of the awards as to “ensure we recognise and reward excellent teaching”.
Of the 7 academics honoured last night, 4 were awarded the VC’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, while 3 were Highly Commended and one received Special Recognition.
Dr Robie, a specialist in Asia-Pacific journalism who has worked for 20 years in the media and almost two decades as a journalism educator, was recognised for his work within the School of Communication Studies in developing student and media publications such as Te Waha Nui, PMC Online and Pacific Scoop and his contribution to diversity.
He described his teaching method as based on experiential and problem-based learning, “reality” publication, broadcast and online conditions while “deploying critical thinking and a continuous drive for excellence”.
Among students' comments were: “His passion for diversity journalism inspired me as a Pasifika student .. . and I thank him for establishing the PMC as a great learning environment.”
The other recipients of the VC’s Award for Excellence in Teaching were Rouxelle De Villiers from the Faculty of Business and Law, Lexie Matheson from the Faculty of Applied Humanities, and Dr Roy Nates from the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies.
De Villiers, a lecturer in marketing and management in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, has extensive experience in her field having worked for over 20 years in management and consultancy positions as well as having more than 10 years teaching experience.
Described by those who nominated her as “creative, engaging and eminently practical”, De Villiers was “absolutely elated” and “thoroughly honoured” to receive the award.
“I care deeply about my teaching and the journey I walk with my students and I value this award as one of the top achievements in my life,” she said.
Matheson, a senior lecturer in event management from the School of Hospitality and Tourism, was also delighted by her award.
“I’m honoured to have been considered worthy of nomination by my students”, she said.
“I put my duty of care first both as a programme leader and lecturer and the students value this … I’ll do my best to make a positive difference.”
Matheson said that she did her best to make sure learning was structured to suit the individual student, and that it will always be student centred.
She has previously been recognised through two AuSM “Awesome” lecturer awards, as well as her faculty’s Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dr Nates, a lecturer at AUT for more than 15 years, was “really chuffed” to have his teaching recognised.
He described his primary goal as being “to develop in the students the ability to be independent problem-solvers and learners”.
“I am enthusiastic and passionate about my profession and engineering’s contribution to society – I want my students to have these same feelings about their studies,” he said.
Honoured as highly commended at the award ceremony were Dr Andy Connor of the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and a joint award to Dr Sharyn Graham Davies and Jeanie Benson from the School of Social Sciences.
Dr Connor described the honour as meaningful due to the fact that students were involved in the nomination process.
“The most meaningful part is the fact that a student actually took the time to nominate in the first instance… Wanting to be excellent at teaching is something that all lecturers should aspire to. It’s what I get paid to do after all.”
Dr Graham Davies and Benson were pleased to have been recognised for their teaching in an undergraduate class of 350 students on applied media ethics.
They described the most important role of lecturers as being to make material “approachable” and to “instil in students a love of learning and a passion for the subject”.
“I am surrounded by many great teachers and educators and it’s a very special honour to be selected from such a quality bunch of people for this award”, Benson said.
“We always try to make applied media ethics approachable by linking it to recent world events, such as the current Arab uprising, and debates about stem cell research”, Graham Davies said.
Special recognition was awarded to Monique Redmond, programme leader for Visual Arts, for her contribution to the teaching strength of the school in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
The VC’s Excellence in Teaching Awards are based on the premise that “excellent teachers are inspiring, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and innovative, with a commitment to their subject and an ability to stimulate learners’ thought and interest”.
Winners are selected by the Vice-Chancellor’s committee which bases its decision on criteria that considers the nominees’ teaching practices, proactivity in professional development, positive influence on colleagues, and the demonstration of sustained excellence, innovation and unique contribution in their role as a teacher.