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Remarks by Chairperson, Selection Panel of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award at the UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award (5.9.2013)

UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony
of the UGC Teaching Award
5 September 2013

Remarks by Prof William Kirby
Chairperson, UGC Teaching Award Selection Panel 2013

Edward, Council Chairmen, Heads, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

2. I am honoured to be here tonight to celebrate with you all the commitment of the UGC-funded institutions to teaching and learning. We are happy to celebrate faculty members' dedication to and innovation for quality teaching.

3. This is the third year that the UGC Teaching Award has been given. With this award, we celebrate both the art and the science of teaching. The teachers we honor are great teachers, yes; but they are also practitioners, disseminators, and missionaries of great teaching. As we quoted in our first dinner the famous first line of the Analects: 子曰﹕「學而時習之、不亦說乎﹖」(“The Master said: to learn, and to practice what one has learned, is this not a pleasure?”) We celebrate then the fact that universities are places where knowledge is created and transmitted. Global university rankings can measure a few things about a university - and of course Hong Kong's universities do well in these. But rankings can never measure in any serious way teaching, mentorship, inspiration - which are so central to the soul of every one of our institutions.

4. It is my privilege to chair the Selection Panel of this year's Award again and be able to work with my colleagues in the Selection Panel - Dr Judith Eaton, Mr Clifton Chiu, Prof Brian Coppola and Prof Shekhar Kumta [Judith, Clifton, Brian and Shekhar] for this important endeavour of the UGC to give due recognition to teaching excellence.

5. With the continuous support of the eight UGC-funded institutions, we received 16 nominations from the institutions this year. As in the past two years, the Selection Panel has been looking for great teachers who can demonstrate the important aspects of teaching, which are reflected in the three selection criteria of the Award: first, the adoption of learner-centred approaches; second, curriculum design that can reflect a true command of the field; and third, demonstration of achievement and leadership in teaching and impact on the development of effective teaching.

6. The Selection Panel had long and thorough discussions with a number of superb candidates before reaching a consensus. The two awardees for this year's Award are exceptionally outstanding and have showed the Panel not only what they do to support students' effective learning but also how their approaches to teaching transform students' learning experience into desired learning outcomes.

7. As mentioned by the Chairman of the UGC just now, the awardees of the UGC Teaching Award will become our "ambassadors of good teaching" and to share their experiences with their peers. The award's grant of $500,000 each would definitely facilitate their work in promoting teaching excellence in the sector.

8. Without further ado, let me announce our ambassadors plenipotentiary, the awardees of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award:

  • Firstly, Dr Alice CHONG, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong

  • Dr Chong is an expert in social gerontology. She has combined her deep understanding of the issues facing an ageing society with students' need to develop as citizens who participate in that society. By engaging senior citizens as life mentors and inviting students to experience the challenges faced daily by the elderly, she instills important insights and inter-generational knowledge in her students. Through interactive and often emotional learning experiences, and by encouraging students' self-reflection, she has greatly enhanced the students' ability to discover new knowledge and to consolidate their learning. At the same time, the senior citizens who work with her students experience renewed purpose and the enthusiasm of working with young people. Dr Chong's teaching has had a profound impact on students' understanding of Hong Kong's society. (And, you know, students too age; and when they are older, they will appreciate all the more Dr. Chong as their teacher.)

    Dr Chong's "Life Mentor Scheme" has been a success in her home university. To continue with the momentum, Dr Chong plans to use the award grant to carry out a collaborative project called "Life Mentor Scheme for Generation Me" ("Generation Me" referring to those born between 1982 and 1999) that will engage a much larger group of students and involving a broader range of academics (that much be "generation us") from a wide set of disciplines across four UGC-funded institutions.

    Congratulations, Dr Chong!

  • Next, Prof Alan Lau, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

  • Professor Lau is an inspiring teacher, an accomplished researcher and a recognised expert in the field of mechanical and aerospace engineering, materials science and product design. He believes in engaging the real world in his teaching. He has taken the partnership between academics and industry to a new level. Over a carefully planned program that runs over a three-year period, students are introduced to the perspectives of industry and to real-world training in design. Finally they create and promote a real product. The result is a deeply engaged, synergistic relationship between the students and the companies, with the firms benefitting from the solutions posed by these students as the students profiting from their professional development. What Professor Lau calls his "Industry-Engaged Outcome-Based Approach" results in a true collaboration between the academic and industrial sectors.

    Professor Lau plans to use the award grant to pass on his experience in university-industry collaboration to junior faculty members of different departments and disciplines to help them in curricula that combines both the academic with the practical.

    Congratulations, Prof Lau!

Please join me in giving our awardees a big round of applause!

9. The two awardees will talk about their approaches to teaching with us shortly. Before I pass the floor to Edward, may I also invite all the finalists of the Award to stand up to receive applause from all of us. Hong Kong is truly blessed to have in its ranks such outstanding educators.

[Note: Prof Kirby invites the finalists to stand up to receive applause from the guests.]

10. Lastly, I would like to thank the UGC for again entrusting me with the work of the Selection Panel, and the colleagues in the Selection Panel for the generous contribution of their time, effort and wisdom during the selection process. It has indeed been a pleasure for all of us to become acquainted with the work of such master teachers.

11. I now pass the floor back to Edward for the prize presentation ceremony. Thank you.