The University of Waikato

2011 Staff Awards Ceremony

Thursday 1 December 2011

Administrative Excellence Awards

Administrative Excellence

Kimberley Johnson is programme administrator for Music in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Her award is for an outstanding contribution to community relationships and the cultural life of the University. Kim consistently goes the extra mile willingly and cheerfully to ensure smooth and efficient management and administration of music events and performances and is hugely valued by staff and students who recognise her exceptional contribution to the University.

Sylwia Rutkowska, administrator of graduate programmes and the centre for postgraduate studies in the Faculty of Education. Sylwia stands out as an excellent administrator in all categories of service who has done an outstanding job on postgraduate administration in the Faculty of Education.

Susan Law's role is Student Recruitment Manager in Communications and External Relations. Susan has continuously provided a consistent and outstanding contribution to student recruitment during her time at the University through in-depth support for her team of advisers, unswerving motivation to provide excellent service to prospective students, their families, parents and teachers, and her dedication to the University of Waikato and the region.

Stephen Joe is Associate Professor in Mathematics and Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Computing and Mathematics. Stephen’s attention to detail and willingness to continuously improve documentation, processes and systems is widely recognised across the University and his administrative contribution is exemplary. He has been described by colleagues as “a rock”, an excellent communicator always willing to go the extra mile, an expert source of good advice, approachable and good humoured, thoroughly professional and consistently reliable

Teaching Excellence Awards

Teaching Excellence

Sophie Nock is a senior lecturer within the School of Māori and Pacific Development and receives her award for Teaching Excellence within a Kaupapa Māori Context.  In her teaching portfolio Sophie states that for her teaching Te Reo and Tikanga are much more than a job, that she strives to become the best teacher she can possibly be, and to enable her students to experience the same sense of excitement she had as a student – the sense that each new discovery is a koha or gift.

One of her colleagues commented that Sophie is the epitome of the present day rangatira, as a mentor, leader and teacher of Te Reo Māori. She is the quintessence of Manaakitanga as seen through her willingness to provide the best for her students.

Chris Brough is a senior tutor from the Department of Arts and Language Education within the Faculty of Education., working on the Windermere Campus of the University of Waikato at Tauranga.

In her portfolio Chris quotes Dr Seuss:

     “Of all the teachers in our school,
     I like Miss Bonkers best.
     Our teachers are all different,
     But she’s different-er than the rest.”

Chris aspires to be the best teacher she possibly can and to be innovative, engaging, knowledgeable and perhaps a little “different-er than the rest”. Her students and colleagues certainly agree as attested by the huge level of support for her nomination.

Michèle Schoenberger-Orgad is from Management Communication within the Waikato Management School. Michèle says that critical thinking is at the heart of tertiary teaching and confirms the university’s role as “critic and conscience of society”. She recognises the need to fully engage students and encourage them to think critically about their world, the knowledge they are gaining in the university and about themselves.

One of the nominating students for his Faculty award stated:

“Michèle was a fantastic facilitator of our discussion based classes. She knew when to let the discussion continue down interesting tangents, and when to pull it back to our focus for the day. This allowed us, as a class, to direct our own learning, to learn from each other, and to feel a personal investment in that process.”

Chris, Michèle and Sophie become our nominees for 2012 national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

Joseph Lane who is a lecturer in the Chemistry Department of the Faculty of Science and Engineering received his award for emergent teaching excellence. Jo only has two years of formal teaching experience so is not yet eligible for a national award, but nevertheless demonstrates enormous capability and potential as both a teacher and researcher.

The feedback from his students includes comments such as:

“He takes the subject of physical chemistry, which is classically seen as a boring, very old branch of chemistry, and turns it into something that seems interesting and useful.”

“Amazing teacher, great at explaining difficult concepts, makes learning worthwhile and fun!”

“A great lecturer who keeps the subject interesting with humorous and memorable analogies.”

“He puts a fun twist on lectures with occasional comics and bits of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ TV show episodes.”

Nola Campbell Memorial eLearning Excellence


This was one of the new awards offered in 2011. Nola Campbell was a New Zealand leader in the field of eLearning from our Faculty of Education who sadly passed away in 2005.  

The inaugural recipient of the Nola Campbell Memorial eLearning Excellence Award was Dianne Forbes who is a senior lecturer in Professional Studies in Education within the Faculty of Education. Dianne was one of Nola’s protégés, so it is very appropriate that she should be the first recipient of this award. Her leadership in this area has been the basis of establishing a very successful e-learning “brown bag lunch” and she is a member of the Dean’s ICT Advisory Group within her Faculty. She is a regular attendee and presenter at WCELfest and consistently publishes eLearning research nationally and internationally.

Postgraduate Research Supervision Excellence

Postgraduate Supervision

This was the second of our new awards and in 2011 was presented jointly to Elmarie Kotzé and Kathie Crocket. Kathie and Elmarie have taken a strongly collaborative approach to research supervision as they worked together to build a doctoral programme in counselling within the Human Development and Counselling department within the Faculty of Education. There were many very strong nominations in this category, but the approach taken by this pair was seen as highly innovative and deserving recognition.


Early Career Research Excellence


The Early Career Research Excellence Award is given to staff within the early years of their research careers, normally within six or seven years of completing a PhD. We recognise that there are many opportunities for excellent, experienced researchers to be recognised so have focused our attention on recognising and supporting our developing researchers.

Joseph Lane was also a recipient of this award, in addition to the Emergent Teaching Excellence Award, which is a remarkable achievement.

Julie Barbour is a lecturer in Linguistics within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Julie’s PhD was conferred in 2009. She has dual roles as academic and parent (with two young daughters both under five), and has been able to maintain an excellent publication record in general linguistics, which is typically a difficult field in which to publish.

Holly Thorpe is a senior lecturer in Sport and Leisure Studies within the Faculty of Education. Her research follows two strands: firstly social theory, gender and physical youth culture, and secondly alternative and extreme sports. She is actively establishing herself as an emerging scholar in the former and a leading authority in the latter. Her 2011 monograph “Snowboarding Bodies in Theory and Practice” has been described by one reviewer as “a ground-breaking and definitive work”. Readers of Community will be aware that Holly has recently been granted a scholarship in New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University in Washington DC for 2012.


Health and Safety Award

Health and SafetyWendy Jackson received this award for her commitment to health and safety within the Chemistry Department over many years, resulting in no incidents within what is potentially a very risky area. Wendy’s role around health and safety is additional to her job as an advanced technical officer.

As an example of her proactive approach to health and safety, in early 2011 (a week prior to the February 22nd earthquake) Wendy initiated a visit to the University of Canterbury in order to review and adapt the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s approach and attitude to earthquake preparedness. She consistently goes above and beyond normal expectations to ensure a healthy and safe environment for staff, students and visitors.

Vice Chancellor's Medal for Staff Excellence


After much deliberation the Vice-Chancellor decided to make the supreme award to Stephen Joe for his outstanding achievement and his huge contribution to the life of the University.



In addition to the certificates presented on the day each individual recipient received $5,000 - Teaching Excellence Award recipients were granted $2000 for a Faculty Award and $3000 for the University Award. Congratulations to all 2011 Staff Award recipients. Library Staff had been awarded a team Administrative Excellence Award and $10,000 on 9 November to coincide with the opening of the Student Centre.



If you would like further information about Staff Awards, or would like to initiate a nomination for a 2012 award please click here.