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Otago teacher wins Prime Minister’s prize

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Tuesday 9 July 2013 12:13pm

Associate Professor Gordon Sanderson, an ophthalmologist from Otago’s School of Medicine, has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

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Associate Professor Gordon Sanderson (left) receives his award from the Hon Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment.

The Award is regarded as the highlight of this annual Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards and recognises Associate Professor Sanderson’s 40-year career dedicated to teaching tertiary students, sharing his passionate commitment to the profession of ophthalmology.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne warmly congratulated him.

“We are delighted that Gordon has been recognised with the award. He is an inspiration to us all and we are privileged that he has dedicated over four decades of his career to his students here at Otago,“ Professor Hayne says.

Described by his students as humble, passionate and caring, Associate Professor Sanderson takes immense pride in the success of students because of the difference they make to the health of patients. Colleagues and students alike describe him as “inspirational”. He continues to teach across all degree levels, is responsible for designing and embedding new curricula, and is highly innovative in his teaching – being a pioneer in the use of technologies including, most recently, the development of mobile phone apps to support students.

Associate Professor Sanderson has been also honoured for his services to the blind with the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 and provides on-going advice and education to staff at the New Zealand Royal Institute of the Blind, as well as being a trustee for Glaucoma New Zealand.
“A whole generation of ophthalmologists acknowledge that it was his teaching that inspired them to take up the speciality. Outstanding tertiary educators change lives: Gordon has done this over four decades.”

Dr Peter Coolbear, director of Ako Aotearoa, and member of the Awards Committee, said of Associate Professor Sanderson: “Gordon Sanderson epitomises sustained tertiary teaching excellence. His passion for his discipline is infectious. He cares deeply about both his specialty and the patients in his care and shares his genuine excitement about his work with his students. A whole generation of ophthalmologists acknowledge that it was his teaching that inspired them to take up the specialty. Outstanding tertiary educators change lives: Gordon has done this over four decades.”

A total of 10 awards for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching (worth $20,000 each) were presented to a diverse range of teachers at the ceremony.

The Prime Minister’s Supreme Award is an additional award to one of the 10 teachers, worth an extra $10,000.

Four Otago academics have won the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for tertiary teaching excellence in the last 11 years. Last year Dr Rhiannon Braund, Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy was awarded the top teaching honours. Additionally, Faculty of Law Associate Professor Selene Mize won in 2009 and Associate Professor Peter Schwartz from Pathology won in 2003.

No other tertiary institution in New Zealand has matched this performance and Professor Hayne says she is proud that Otago continues to be recognised at the highest level for its outstanding teaching.

“I think the sustained achievement over the years is testament to the incredible talent and unwavering commitment that staff have for our students. It reinforces Otago’s long-standing reputation as a leading institution that offers a world-class education to our students,” Professor Hayne says.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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