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Congratulatory Message by Chair, 2022 UGC Teaching Award Selection Panel

2022 UGC Teaching Award
Congratulatory Message by Professor Marilee Bresciani Ludvik
Chair, 2022 UGC Teaching Award Selection Panel

It is my greatest honour to have the opportunity to once again serve as the Selection Panel Chair this year for the prestigious UGC Teaching Award which celebrates the achievements of our outstanding teachers in the UGC sector.

2. In the past two years, the teaching and learning landscape around the world has undergone rapid transformation. The unprecedent challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been lingering longer than many of us would have anticipated, have called for teachers to be adaptive, creative, and innovative in addressing the needs of students and developing new pedagogical approaches. More than ever, we are in great need for dedicated passionate teachers to demonstrate their agility and acumen to implement evidence-based practices in and out of the classroom. At a time when cross-disciplinary and cross-platform teaching and learning has become more and more important in addressing the increasingly complex challenges of learning in a rapidly changing environment, the need for educators to go beyond their professional comfort zone, embrace the unfamiliarity and lead needed changes is upon us. This is the calling of teachers of our time.

3. In the past few months, the Selection Panel reviewed a total of 20 nominations from UGC-funded universities. We were once again impressed by the nominees' dedication and passion to teaching excellence. Their devotion to teaching and to go the "extra mile" for their students in order to foster their learning, growth and to realise their potentials is truly admirable. Their commitment to enrich the learning experiences of their students and to inspire both their students and their colleagues in their life journey is worthy of commendation.

4. Once again, the Selection Panel had an extremely challenging task in choosing the finalists among this outstanding group of nominees, and an even more daunting task in selecting the awardees. With careful deliberation, the Selection Panel shortlisted six finalists and had the privilege to meet and discuss with them their teaching philosophies in early July. After a rigorous and thorough selection process, the Selection Panel agreed that three of the finalists should receive the 2022 award. They are Professor Anthony Man-Cho So from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr Tulio Maximo from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the English Across the Curriculum Team led by Dr Julia Chen from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

5. Professor Anthony Man-Cho So, the awardee for the General Faculty Members category, is the Dean of Graduate School and a Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management at CUHK. He is a passionate, innovative, and caring educator. With a firm belief in every student's unique potential, Professor So is deeply committed to students' personal growth and development. He has been leading interdisciplinary efforts in curriculum enhancement and building a collaborative learning community among teachers to address students' needs. As a strong proponent of interdisciplinary learning, Professor So is keen on establishing the connection between engineering and the humanities in his teaching. Being a dedicated and greatly admired mentor, Professor So's patient guidance has unlocked the potential of numerous students with his inspiring approach to nurturing them through application of evidence-based practices. His dedication to make a positive impact beyond his institution by promoting STEM education to secondary school students has helped widened the interest in science and technology of a new generation. Professor So's continuous pursuit of excellence in learner-centred teaching has earned him well-deserved recognition and led to multiple accolades from his faculty and university.

6. Dr Tulio Maximo, the awardee for the Early Career Faculty Members category, is Assistant Professor in the School of Design at PolyU. Inspired by his personal learning experience as a child with Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Dr Maximo aspires to become the type of teacher that he needed and to promote the kind of learning experience that he knows other students need. With a strong will to educate all students, by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, Dr Maximo has integrated more inclusive design concepts into the design programme curriculum and created a new subject Design Meets Disabilities, despite a relatively short teaching experience of just four years. By actively collaborating with different non-government organisations, he has engaged his students in community projects and applied an empathic approach to guide them to develop a personal understanding of their users' needs, thereby designing more suitable products for those with disabilities. In this student-centred learning environment, his students feel empowered and supported to develop, practice, and demonstrate their design thinking abilities. Dr Maximo's teaching has made a positive and long- term impact on his students' learning and personal development.

7. The Collaborative Teams category awardee, English Across the Curriculum Team is led by Dr Julia Chen (PolyU), with Dr Grace Lim (PolyU), Ms Christy Chan (CityU), Ms Vicky Man (HKBU), and Dr Elza Tsang (HKUST) as team members. This collaborative programme by universities has, over the past eight years, generated multiple innovative and effective strategies for developing students' academic literacy. The Team has successfully built a culture conducive to student-centred and interdisciplinary collaborations, thereby benefitting both English teachers and those from other disciplines. Furthermore, these teachers' success is made evident by significant and positive impact on the English ability and learning experience of their students across universities. They have also improved the teaching capacity and pedagogical approaches of their colleagues in the participating universities. The Team exemplifies teaching excellence by addressing complex educational challenges with a clear vision and determination to improve language learning. Their proactive transformation of an admirable vision into a purposeful mission offers an excellent strategy for student-centred teaching enhancement. The Team shows a strong commitment to continuous professional development, and is actively engaged in disseminating their work that exemplifies positive results through the scholarship of teaching and learning.

8. It is my greatest pleasure to congratulate the awardees as well as their respective universities, on the outstanding achievements and remarkable contributions they have made in demonstrating teaching excellence and enhancing the quality of student learning experiences in the UGC sector. I would also like to once again thank my colleagues in the Selection Panel, Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Dr Benjamin Chan Wai-kai, Professor Rhea Patricia Liem and Professor Stephen Marshall, for their support and hard work in the selection process. I am also grateful to the UGC for entrusting me with the honor of chairing the Selection Panel.