Learning and Teaching - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

UC Teaching Medal

The Teaching Medal is the University's highest award for teaching excellence.


The University of Canterbury Teaching Medal is awarded from time to time in recognition of an outstanding and sustained contribution to teaching in the University. Nominees will be expected to produce a Teaching Portfolio in support of their application, with assistance from their nominator.

The medal criteria are:

  • sustained and outstanding teaching excellence and
  • leadership in wider teaching and learning. This wider leadership should be either across the University (rather than in one discipline), nationally and/or internationally.

Leadership may be in the form of innovation in teaching and teaching research, fostering colleagues' development, communication and support of good practice, and development in teaching. It is usually expected that nominees will have already received a University Teaching Award or College Teaching Award and/or UCSA Lecturer or Supervisor of the Year Award prior to their nomination for a Teaching Medal.

Nomination/Application form

Suggestions for the contents of the Teaching portfolio are outlined within the Teaching Medal Application Form (Word, 62KB). All nomiantions will be acknowledged. In the portfolio review process for this award, the sub-committee will be looking for overall evidence that the nominee has:

  • maintained, over a significant time-frame, teaching practices which are characterised by excellence;
  • made a significant contribution to teaching and the professional development of colleagues with respect to teaching and learning;
  • demonstrated leadership in teaching across the University (rather than in one discipline) nationally and/or internationally;
  • clearly received the endorsement of teaching colleagues at UC and/or other national or international colleagues/past or present graduate and/or undergraduate students/PVC/Head of School/Department/employers of graduates.

Enquiries about the medal should be directed to Eleri Nugent, Secretary of the Learning and Teaching Committee in the first instance.


  • 9 January 2017: Nominations for UC Teaching Awards and the UC Teaching Medal will open;
  • 1 March 2017: Deadlines for return of applications;
  • 3 April 2017: Notification of outcome of application
  • date in November 2017 to be confirmed: Teaching Medal Ceremony.


To date, the Teaching Medal has been awarded to:

  • Professor John Burrows from the School of Law
  • Professor Kon Kuiper from Linguistics
  • Associate Professor Tim Bell from Computer Science and Software Engineering
  • Professor Roger Nokes from Civil and Natural Resources Engineering and
  • Professor Richard Hartshorn from Chemistry
  • Professor Eric Pawson from Geography
  • Associate Professor Paul Ballantine from Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship
  • Professor Ursula Cheer from the School of Law
  • Dr Herb de Vries from Management, Marketing and Entreprenuership
  • Associate Professor Ekant Veer from Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Associate Professor Ekant Veer (2017)

Professor Ekant VeerThe University of Canterbury will present Associate Professor Ekant Veer, from the Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship department, with the Teaching Medal for 2017.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Dr Hamish Cochrane, who is Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee that recommends a winner to UC Council, says that this year’s medallist was a particularly strong candidate with a proven record as an “outstanding teacher”.

“Associate Professor Veer is an innovative teacher who is passionate about teaching and enabling his students to apply their theoretical knowledge to real world problems to create practical, digital marketing solutions for companies,” Dr Cochrane says. 

“His work is also used as teaching material in many different contexts beyond his influence with UC students – locally as part of the Canterbury District Health Board training about public health and health promotion, nationally by the New Zealand Red Cross and internationally by his lectures on teaching effectiveness across Australian universities.” 

Associate Professor Veer has a track record of teaching excellence, both in New Zealand and prior to that at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.  He has previously been recognised with a UC Teaching Award and five Lecturer of the Year Awards from the UCSA since he joined UC in 2010. 

Dr Herb de Vries (2015)

Dr de Vries, an internationally renowned expert in management and entrepreneurship, has been awarded a University Teaching Medal in 2015.

The panel described Dr de Vries’ application as a highly integrated package. He is a passionate, committed and enthusiastic teacher who is equally at home with engaging large classes whilst recognising and supporting the needs of individual students. He is widely recognised as a dedicated professional who is a team player who actively seeks feedback from colleagues and also acts as mentor and curriculum developer in the Faculty. He extends his academic activities by being actively involved with local businesses and bringing them into the classroom. He has also earned an international reputation by working with Zuel University in China and the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria.

His Head of Department, Associate Professor Paul Ballantine, himself a previous Teaching Medal recipient, describes Dr de Vries as “One of our most talented teachers who lives and breathes teaching and is constantly looking for ways to improve his teaching through research, peer review, teaching evaluations and self-reflection and by using the latest technology available. His energetic delivery, passion for the subjects he teaches and engagement with students are repeatedly described by those who know him.”

Professor Ursula Cheer (2015)

Professor Ursula Cheer, an expert in media law and defamation, has been awarded the University’s highest accolade for teaching, a University Teaching Medal in 2015.

Professor Cheer was described by the panel as an exceptional teacher who is clearly committed to making law accessible and enjoyable for her students. Despite teaching large classes, her students talk of her approachability and her passion and enthusiasm for teaching. She actively engages her students in class with innovative teaching strategies which challenge them to achieve their best. Alongside this, she is also a nationally recognised leader in research in law teaching pedagogy and is known within the Law School as a conscientious mentor of junior staff. She is a regular contributor to national television and radio, putting her research and teaching of media law in the spotlight whilst raising the University’s profile.

Dr Chris Gallavin, Dean of Law says: “Professor Cheer is a leader in the field of teaching. Her guidance of the Ako Aotearoa funded research team at UC has also significantly raised the profile and importance of teaching and student interaction in the School. The work of that group in the area of large class engagement has received national praise and has been instrumental in the development of our compulsory courses as well as that of other law schools in New Zealand and has firmly established UC Law as the national leader in teaching pedagogy….Her mentoring of our junior staff has been inspirational - I am very aware of the close support and advice she has provided to staff and her influence in their career development.”

Associate Professor Paul Ballantine (2014)

Marketing expert Associate Professor Paul Ballantine has received the UC Teaching Medal in recognition of his outstanding achievements and his contribution to the University as a lecturer, supervisor and head of department.

Professor Ballantine’s career has been stellar on all fronts in teaching, research and service. Last year, he was re-appointed unopposed as head of the management, marketing and entrepreneurship department for a second five year term. Professor Sonia Mazey, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Business and Law), says that apart from his significant research and service commitments, Professor Ballantine remains passionate about undergraduate teaching and invests considerable time and effort into ensuring his 200 and 300-level courses are innovative, research informed, engaging and relevant.

"The consistently high teaching and course survey evaluations obtained by Paul, and the fact that he has been a recipient of earlier College and University level teaching awards bear testimony to his outstanding competence and dedication as a teacher. Paul's student-centred approach to teaching with a strong emphasis on ‘real world’  problem-based learning aligns strongly with the key pillars of learning associated with the UC graduate profile, especially employability and community engagement.

"Paul has progressively refocused the department's research and teaching around three core areas: management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Thanks to Paul’s work, the University has a strong teaching and research profile in marketing, including a distinctive, specialist offering in the area of retail marketing. Paul is one of only two internationally recognised academics in this area in New Zealand," Professor Mazey says.

Professor Eric Pawson, Geography (2013)

Professor John BurrowsUC geography academic Professor Eric Pawson has been awarded the University of Canterbury's Teaching Medal for 2013.

Professor Pawson has a long track record of teaching excellence at the University during his more than 30 years at UC. He has previously been recognised with both a Univeristy Teaching Award and an Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award.

Professor Pawson says there are many highlights in a job such as teaching.

"One of the things I love about my job is being actively engaged. I enjoy the continuing sense of discovery and that there is always the potentioal to do things differently, to do things more effectively and to learn things in new ways," he says.

Professor Pawson has and continues to make a significant contribution at both UC and at a national level through his involvement in pan University working groups and his role as an auditor for the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand universities.

He was awarded the medal in recognition of his outstanding leadership at both the institutional and international level in learning and teaching development and nationally in quality assurance.

Professor Pawson is respected and supported by peers within the Department of Geography and the University, the local Canterbury community, and in the national and international context of his research and teaching.

Professor Richard Hartshorn, Chemistry (2009)

Associate Professor Hartshorn, who is a past recipient of a UC Teaching Award, has been described as an outstanding academic who plays a very influential role in science education. Professor Hartshorn’s nomination, made by the Chemistry Department, referred to him as a highly talented and popular lecturer. It said he had a deep understanding of the principles that underpin excellent teaching and learning.

“He has established versatile teaching methods that enable him to achieve optimal results with students of a wide range of abilities, from those who struggle at university level to top-notch honours students. Feedback from undergraduate students, through both personal communication and formal teaching assessments, is that he is a popular lecturer with a superior ability to relate complex concepts to students,” the nomination said.

Professor Hartshorn has made significant contributions to chemistry internationally through his association with the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry. He is a member of the union’s Committee on Chemical Education, which is responsible for initiating chemical education projects and promoting chemistry in developing countries.

As an international expert in the field of chemical nomenclature, Professor Hartshorn acts as a consultant for chemistry educators and textbook authors around the world. He has co-authored two textbooks used in high schools in Australia and is on the editorial board for an Australian-Canadian 100-level university textbook. Professor Hartshorn was a driving force behind the establishment of UC’s Science Outreach programme and, as Chair of its steering committee, retains an important role in its ongoing development.

Professor Roger Nokes, Civil and Natural Resources Engineering (2008)

"Since coming to Canterbury in 2001, Roger Nokes has received numerous teaching awards including the UCSA Best Lecturer of the Year Award in 2001 and 2008 and a University Teaching Award in 2003. Previously at the University of Auckland, Roger received five awards for teaching excellence plus that University's teaching medal in 1993. This career of teaching excellence culminated in a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards in 2006.

Roger teaches Fluid Mechanics and Engineering Mathematics. He sees his role not as being about "instilling" new knowledge and understanding in his students, but as being to "encourage them, inspire them, cajole them, mentor then and challenge them in their learning process." While being recognised for his meticulous lecture preparation and carefully developed summative and formative assessment, he is also known for his humour and story-telling. His success is evident in the praise volunteered by students and colleagues: "Passion", "unwaning enthusiasm', "commitment", "super-supportive", "effort" and "awesome" lecturing are common descriptions of his teaching.

In addition to this, Roger has made significant contributions to University teaching through his service as department Director of Undergraduate Studies and membership of Faculty Board of Studies. He is an energetic and challenging member of the University Teaching and Learning Committee and is a mentor of colleagues both within and outside his department. His contribution to the tertiary teaching profession and to Canterbury in particular, has been described as "outstanding", both as an outstanding teacher and as an outstanding educational leader.

Professor Tim Bell, Computer Science and Software Engineering (2007)

In his 20 years as an academic staff member, Professor Bell has inspired students with his enthusiasm, technical knowledge and innovative teaching methods. One PhD student who endorsed his nomination for the Teaching Medal described his ability to hold the attention of his classes as "uncanny".

Professor Bell has pioneered numerous innovations to enhance students' learning experiences. An example is the introduction of regular podcasts which expand on lecture content.

In 2006, Google Inc. contributed funding for the development of Professor Bell's Computer Science Unplugged programme which uses fun activities to demonstrate computer science to school children. A teacher's manual for the programme has been translated into Korean, Japanese and Chinese. About 10 other translations are currently being developed.

Professor Kon Kuiper, School of Classics and Linguistics (2004)

Professor Kon Kuiper"... the Teaching Medal does not recognise merely technical wizardry. That is not what impelled students in the Arts Faculty to vote Professor Kuiper the best lecturer of the year, as they did in 2000. Good teachers are performers, not just purveyors of information and ideas. At the same time, good teachers enliven their subject-matter; they do not swamp it with their own personality and eccentricities. In this way, as has often been said, they are like good actors. For decades, Professor Kuiper has worked at becoming a better and better actor. His publication record includes a steady flow of pieces reflecting on his experience of teaching, as well as articles and reviews in publications aimed at the teaching profession.
And Professor Kuiper is not one of those academics for whom time away from the University invariably means a rest from teaching. His experience as a teacher has been expanded not just at the University of Canterbury but at universities and colleges in the United States, in the Netherlands, and in China."

"In students’ evaluations of our teaching, we are particularly delighted when we read the words ‘Made a dull subject interesting.’ Those are words that Professor Kuiper has the good fortune to read more often than most of us."

(Extracts from Professor Ken Strongman's citation at the award of the Teaching Medal to Professor Kon Kuiper at the graduation ceremony on Tuesday, 6th April 2004).

Professor John Burrows, School of Law (2002)

Professor John BurrowsJohn has an extremely broad grasp of diverse topics in the law. The essence of his teaching skill is in reducing complex ideas and inconsistent case law to a coherent and logically attractive whole. He has a remarkable ability to explain difficult concepts with clarity and intellectual rigour'.
'There can be no doubt that John is consistently regarded by law students as an outstanding teacher'.
'John is not just a teacher. He is a genuine educator. He is universally regarded with the highest affection and respect. For more than 30 years he has made a contribution to the education of law students at the University of Canterbury'.

(Extracts from Professor Stephen Todd's citation at the award of the Teaching Medal to Professor John Burrows at the graduation ceremony on Wednesday, 17 April 2002).

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