OUSU’s 2016 Teaching Awards ceremony was this week, bestowing awards on teachers, support staff, lecturers and other faculty members.
The four traditional categories, “Best Support Staff”, “Most acclaimed Lecturer”, “Outstanding Tutor“ and “Outstanding Supervisor”, remained while two new categories, “Outstanding Pastoral Support” and “Special Recognition Award”, were added.
Panels of students and OUSU Sabbatical Officers narrowed the record 658 nominations down to 94 finalists, from whom the winners were chosen.
In her opening remarks, Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said the aim of the teaching awards was to commemorate the contributions by the “unsung heroes” of the university. “Nowadays there is much pressure on academics to publish. There is less recognition of teaching [excellence],” she said.
She then stated that teaching, while undoubtedly the fundamental cornerstone of the very nature of an educational institution, should be weighed and viewed equally with the ability of staff to care for students, “You can train people to teach, but you cannot teach people to care.”
The masters of ceremonies, both of whom were OUSU Sabbatical officers, introduced the candidates with anecdotes about their work and life in the university.
Notably, the announcement of Dr. Kevin Hilliard as Most Acclaimed Lecturer in Humanities drew a loud response, as he incorporates “hand puppets” into lectures. As one of the winners of the Outstanding Pastoral Support award, Dr. Antony Smith had a big role in the life of classicist James Sinclair, who lost his father two years ago.
“[Dr] Antony [Smith] was a constant source of support” Magdalen classicist James Sinclair said. “We spoke frequently on the phone; he made arrangements for me with the Proctors so that I could grieve with my family and attend my father’s funeral, before returning halfway through term. I’d often break down in tears at tutorials, and found it a struggle to work; Antony was hugely understanding and flexible in adjusting for this.
“We’d meet for tea and coffee, and he would listen and offer words of consolation. It’s really quite heroic, how much he did for me, especially for a tutor- I’d say he’s probably the main reason I’m still at Oxford, doing what I love.”
Special awards were presented to Anne Ford, founder of the two-decade old Peer Support Program, and also to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone.