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Otago Law academic wins NZ's top tertiary teaching award

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Wednesday 22 July 2009 12:14pm

Selene Mize. A University of Otago law academic has been awarded the Prime Minister's Supreme Award in this year's national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

Selene Mize, a Senior Lecturer in the University's Faculty of Law, was presented with the prestigious award at a parliamentary ceremony last night. The award is worth $30,000.

In the announcement of the award, it was noted that Ms Mize was selected by the Minister for Tertiary Education, Hon Anne Tolley, and the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards Committee for an "exceptional" portfolio.

Her portfolio highlights her passion for law over a 20-year career, her contribution to the international reputation of New Zealand Law education and an absolute and unstinting commitment to her students and their success.

Selene has become both a national and international figure in legal education. Her colleagues have described her "inspirational" for her creativity and thoughtfulness in course design and pedagogical methods. One of her ex-students described her as "an irreplaceable gift to the legal profession".

The Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards are administered by Ako Aotearoa, New Zealand's National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. All of the country's Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) are eligible to nominate teaching staff.

The awards aim to recognise and encourage excellence in tertiary teaching while also providing an opportunity for teachers to further their careers and share their good practice with others.

Law Dean Professor Mark Henaghan congratulated Ms Mize on her success, which he says is "richly deserved".

"Selene has been a major influence in the teaching practices at the Faculty of Law over many years. She is superb and tireless in giving constructive feedback to her students and constantly looks at new ways of ensuring they are learning to the best of their ability."

Professor Henaghan noted that Ms Mize was a driving force behind the development of the Faculty's research and writing programme, which requires all undergraduate law students to complete independent research and legal writing.

"I have had considerable feedback both from graduates and employers that this programme has a deep effect on students in their professional lives."

Earlier this year, Ms Mize was one of three academic staff to win a University of Otago Teaching Excellence Award, along with Chemistry's Associate Professor Allan Blackman and Marketing's Dr Rob Aitken.

Selene Mize's 2009 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awardee Profile

"Passion for the law coupled with a deep commitment to teaching underpins Selene Mize's exceptional practice. Selene is an excellent teacher who designs learning that engages and stretches students. For more than 20 years she has demonstrated sustained excellence and is regarded by students and colleagues as an inspirational teacher. Her teaching draws on her nationally and internationally recognized expertise in client interviewing, client counselling and legal negotiation. The outcomes of Selene's skills are clearly evident through her coaching of New Zealand teams from the five law schools to achieve great success in international counselling and negotiation competitions.

"Selene places a high priority on staying current in respect to her teaching practice and to her discipline. She has embraced innovations that can enhance her teaching and she shares her expertise through participation in a range of university and New Zealand wide teaching initiatives. Described by one of her past students as 'an inspiration, and an irreplaceable gift to the legal profession', Selene is a shining example of an outstanding tertiary educator who is creative and innovative in her practice."

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