Citations recognise teaching excellence and learning for life

Published 13 August 2010

2010 August ALTC Awards SydneyTwo staff members from the University of New England have been recognised by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) in this year’s round of Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Associate Professor Russell McDougall and Dr Robyn Muldoon received their awards during a ceremony last week at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

The ALTC Citations recognise and reward the diverse contributions that individuals and teams have made to the quality of student learning in a specific area of responsibility over a sustained period. Forty individuals and teams from eight higher-education institutions in NSW received Citations at the ceremony in Sydney on Monday 2 August. They were congratulated by the Chair of the ALTC Board, Emeritus Professor John Hay AC, and the ALTC’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Carol Nicoll.

Dr McDougall (pictured here) is an Associate Professor of English and Communication Studies in UNE’s School of Arts. His award was for “sustained commitment to – and demonstrated excellence in – creating innovative, empowering and challenging online learning communities to enhance students’ distance learning in literature studies”.

“My teaching is motivated by a desire to inspire students as much by what literature does as by what it is,” Dr McDougall said. “Their own interactions with literature thus gain productive social and cultural meaning. Literary study is a perfect vehicle for guiding students towards realising their potential as social protagonists who can choose to make a difference.”

“Society needs to recognise that education changes lives in important and positive ways,” he said. “UNE, through its distance education mission and the kind of students its attracts, has probably affected more lives in this way than most other Australian institutions.”

Dr Muldoon is the Acting Director of UNE’s Teaching and Learning Centre. Her award was for “leadership in the development of the New England Award, an innovative program that fosters students’ personal and professional development at university through extra-curricular activity”.

The New England Award (NEA) recognises that a student has engaged in extra-curricular learning, professional development, and/or community-based activities at a required level of participation and commitment. After Dr Muldoon established the NEA program at UNE in 2004, it quickly gained recognition as a valuable adjunct to a student’s academic program in terms of both personal development and readiness for employment.

The NEA is increasingly being recognised by the broader community. Local organisations such as the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (New England/North West) and the Armidale Volunteer Referral Service recruit volunteers through the NEA.  UNE now has students across Australia involved in service clubs, charities, church groups, arts societies, advocacy organisations, environmental groups and various other national organisations. Dr Muldoon’s work on the NEA has allowed UNE to achieve distinction as a leader in the field of extra-curricular training and development. She has been invited to assist four other Australian universities to establish similar programs. Two have already started: the Phoenix Award at the University of Southern Queensland and the Canberra Award at the University of Canberra.

Professor Graham Webb, UNE’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), who attended the ceremony with Dr McDougall and Dr Muldoon, said that the University was very proud of its Citation winners, and grateful for their outstanding contributions. “Their work continues the great tradition of high-quality teaching and learning at UNE,” Professor Webb said. “Russell’s award reflects the University’s great teaching tradition, and Robyn’s the opportunities that UNE offers for students to become both leaders and more rounded human beings as part of their UNE experience. Russell, Robyn, and the other great teachers that we have on staff are a key asset in our development of outstanding educational experiences to secure our future.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Associate Professor Russell McDougall displayed here expands to include Dr Robyn Muldoon and Professor Graham Webb. It was taken at the award ceremony in Sydney. [Image: Photocall Image Management Australia]