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UGC presents awards for Teaching Excellence

The University Grants Committee (UGC) held its presentation ceremony for the 2014 UGC Teaching Award today (September 10) to honour academics in the UGC-funded institutions for their outstanding teaching performance and achievements, as well as their leadership and scholarly contribution to teaching and learning within and across institutions.

The presentation ceremony was well attended by the UGC Members, Council Chairmen and Heads of the UGC-funded institutions and their senior management, as well as those nominated for the award and some 40 outstanding academics.

The recipients of the 2014 UGC Teaching Award, in alphabetical order, are:

Professor Charles Kwong Yim-tze, Professor of Chinese and Translation and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Lingnan University
Mr John Lin Chun-han, Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
Dr Elaine Liu Suk-ching, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong

The award citations are at Annex A.

Speaking at the award presentation ceremony, the Chairman of the UGC, Mr Edward Cheng, congratulated the awardees and nominees on their accomplishments and thanked the UGC-funded institutions and Members of the Selection Panel to the UGC Teaching Award for their support.

Mr Cheng said, "The awardees of the UGC Teaching Award "ambassadors of good teaching". They are passionate in their teaching, and are instrumental to enhancing the student learning experience through various ways, from the use of new pedagogies to the provision of opportunities for students to interact with society. Their passion has led them to share their valuable teaching philosophies with their peers through building up various forms of communities of practice to inspire other academics of effective teaching practices."

He believed that the organisation of the UGC Teaching Award not only demonstrated UGC's appreciation for the hard work of academics of Hong Kong's higher education sector, but more importantly, contributed to a real and sustained impact in promoting teaching excellence.

The three recipients of the 2014 UGC Teaching Award were selected from among 16 outstanding nominees through a rigorous process. All nominees were carefully selected by their own institutions. The selection of the final recipients of the UGC Teaching Award was undertaken by a Selection Panel convened by Professor William Kirby. The selection criteria and the composition of the Selection Panel for the 2014 UGC Teaching Award are at Annex B.

Professor Kirby, who has been the Chairperson of the Selection Panel for the past four years, believes that the differences between a university and a research institution are that universities pay attention to teaching, education, mentorship, and impact of great teachers on the lives of their students and the broader community.

When announcing the result of this year's award, Professor Kirby said, "The universities here in Hong Kong are blessed with great teachers. We have met truly extraordinary educators." He commended the awardees for inspiring their students and engaging them in learning with energy and enthusiasm. The three awardees have demonstrated leadership in teaching within and across institutions and come up with award grant initiatives that could reward their institutions and the entire UGC sector in teaching and learning.

Chairman of the University Grants Committee (UGC), Mr Edward Cheng, and Members of the Selection Panel of the 2014 UGC Teaching Award took a group photo with the three recipients of the 2014 UGC Teaching Award at the presentation ceremony. (From left) Professor Alan Lau Kin-tak, Professor Adrian Dixon, Mr Edward Cheng, Dr Elaine Liu Suk-ching, Mr John Lin Chun-han, Professor Charles Kwong Yim-tze, Professor William Kirby and Professor Paul Blackmore.

Awardee Professor Charles Kwong Yim-tze shares his teaching philosophies.

Awardee Mr John Lin Chun-han shares his teaching philosophies.

Awardee Dr Elaine Liu Suk-ching shares her teaching philosophies.

Annex A

Award Citations

Professor Charles Kwong Yim-tze, Professor of Chinese and Translation and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Lingnan University

Professor Kwong has practiced a Dao of Teaching which can be spoken, and which has endured. He can be named as a teacher-scholar of enduring success. He is a scholar, a poet, a teacher. A "spiritual master," as one of his students has described him. A man of "caring wisdom", says another, whose teaching is "moving and magnetic". As a humanist, he believes teaching in the liberal arts is not simply transmitting knowledge, but exploring values; that a humanist teacher should be a constant learner, a fellow student who never graduates. He is a deeply learned scholar of literature; a prolific author.

Professor Kwong plans to use the award grant to share his Dao of teaching and his experience with both Chinese and Western philosophies of education with teachers in the sector through talks and seminars and in two books. The first will be a series of essays entitled, Dialogues on Modern Existence¡u²{¥N¥Í©Rªº¹ï¸Ü¡v, reflecting on his dialogic exchanges with students over the years, considering questions about individuality and society, culture and nature. The second will be a guide to classical Chinese poetry, from a writer's perspective, showing how classical Chinese poetry is an ancient yet living literary-cultural heritage.

Mr John Lin Chun-han, Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Mr Lin is an architect who works with a deep sense of historical, cultural and social context. He is a teacher's teacher, in that he has been mentor, colleague and collaborator across both academic and political boundaries. He is a pioneer of experiential learning. He has a vision of bridging a permeable divide between university education, professional practice, and community engagement, bringing groups of students to collaborate with him on a series of extraordinary architecture projects in rural China. In doing so, he has argued convincingly for inverting the traditional pyramid of university undergraduate education - putting practice before theory, and has shown how students bring insights from working in teams on real projects to their subsequent theoretical studies. The Selection Panel was particularly impressed by his leadership of HKU students and local villagers in rebuilding a historic bridge in Guizhou, which by all accounts is still standing.

Mr Lin plans to use the award fund to implement two pilot projects to strengthen experiential learning in inter-disciplinary curricular programmes. The first will set up an inter-disciplinary teaching facility in a rural village in Guangdong; and the other is to set up multi-disciplinary, inter-faculty programmes.

Dr Elaine Liu Suk-ching, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong

Dr Liu is a passionate and committed teacher who empowers students by creating out-of-classroom, service-learning opportunities for them to help and serve the community. Drawing on her previous professional experience as a school youth social worker and as a relief social worker in a Vietnamese refugee camp, she encourages the self-discovery and development of students through volunteer work. She has launched the City-Youth Empowerment Project (CYEP), which has helped thousands of students to develop self-confidence, leadership skills, social values and a sense of empowerment. She has also served as the Residence Master of the Jockey Club Humanity Hall at City University of Hong Kong, living the life of teacher and leader every day with 341 undergraduate students.

Dr Liu plans to use her award grant to expand the successful CYEP project across several universities in Hong Kong, fostering inter-university collaboration on service-learning initiatives.

Annex B

Selection Criteria of the 2014 UGC Teaching Award

Selection Criteria

All nominees for the Award were assessed based on the following three criteria -

(a) Adoption of learner-centred approaches, ability to engage/inspire/impact on students and demonstration of superior classroom acumen, which may include a good understanding of pedagogy, understanding how students learn and adopting suitable teaching and assessment approaches that can achieve better student learning outcomes; being able to interact with students and engage them in learning with enthusiasm; inspiring and supporting students, with respect for their diverse learning needs, to build confidence and capability (including critical thinking, analytical skills, values, etc.); and outstanding classroom (as well as outside-classroom) teaching.

(b) Course/programme/curriculum design that can reflect a command of the field, which may include demonstrating up-to-date knowledge of the field of study in the design of the curriculum and student learning resources (e.g., textbooks, e-learning resources) and adopting complementary research-informed teaching practices; and developing appropriate student learning outcomes and adopting innovative approaches to teaching and assessment which can facilitate students' achievement of the learning outcomes.

(c) Past/present achievement(s) and leadership in teaching and potential scholarly contribution to and impact on the development of effective teaching practice within his/her own institution and/or in other institutions, which may include demonstrating educational research and innovations in the field of study; and demonstrating leadership in the promotion of teaching excellence within the institution and/or in other institutions.

The three criteria carried no specified weighting. The Selection Panel considered each nomination on its own merit with reference to the criteria.

Composition of the Selection Panel

Professor William Kirby (Chairperson)
T M Chang Professor of China Studies and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration
Harvard University, USA
Member of the University Grants Committee

Professor Paul Blackmore
Director of King's Learning Institute and Professor of Higher Education
King's College London, UK
International Expert of the Selection Panel

Mr Tommy Cheung Pak-hong
Munsang College (Hong Kong Island)
Member of the University Grants Committee

Professor Adrian Dixon
Master of Peterhouse and Emeritus Professor of Radiology
University of Cambridge, UK
Member of the University Grants Committee and Quality Assurance Council

Professor Alan Lau Kin-tak
Associate Dean (Industrial Relations) of Faculty of Engineering and Professor of Department of Mechanical Engineering
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Awardee of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award