Distinguished Teacher Award 2022 recipients

14 December 2023 | Acting DVC Emer Prof Linda Ronnie

Dear colleagues and students

In recognising outstanding teaching at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and acknowledging contributions to the promotion of teaching and learning excellence at the institution, the Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA) is handed out annually to deserving recipients.

The DTA Committee selects awardees after a meticulous assessment of a large pool of portfolios submitted by eligible candidates. The committee engages each teaching portfolio, examining the evidence for excellence in teaching over a number of years, focusing on their:

  • teaching philosophy and pedagogical approach in the context of teaching and learning challenges in South African higher education
  • contribution to curriculum renewal and transformation in teaching and learning
  • innovation in teaching and learning
  • impact on their students, beyond formal teaching time
  • impact on the teaching and learning approaches of their colleagues
  • understanding and practice of inclusivity in their teaching
  • reflective teaching practices.

In addition, nominees may also provide evidence in relation to:

  • their scholarship of teaching and learning – including any relevant publications, conference attendance and research projects
  • how they design their learning materials to be accessible to differently abled students.

The DTA Committee has finalised its assessment of the portfolios submitted for 2022. I am pleased to announce the following DTA recipients for 2022:

Associate Professor Pippin Anderson
Environmental and Geographical Sciences

Throughout her tenure Associate Professor Pippin Anderson has exemplified an inspiring teaching philosophy centered on a student progression from foundational material, to that of advanced theoretical engagement and critical thinking.

Associate Professor Anderson employs a variety of engaging methods to foster an inclusive and diverse learning environment. She acknowledges her own positionality and encourages collective student empowerment and their critical self-reflection on their positionality as students at UCT.

Associate Professor Anderson actively disrupts traditional perspectives and power relations in her field of study and is a champion for postgraduate studies and writing. Noteworthy is her use of fieldwork as central to the academic project and as a way to develop the students being, her interdisciplinary approach, and her ability to supervise students across different disciplines.

Her leadership and educational influence extend beyond the classroom, with a record of service on various committees related to physical planning, landscaping, building development, animal ethics and the environment. Her strong national and international standing, along with her involvement in curriculum development, showcases her dedication to justice and kindness in uncertain futures.

Her portfolio was testimony to her ability to intricately weave disciplines together in a way that fosters an understanding of the complexity of the built environment and ecological systems. Her commitment to producing knowledgeable, conscientised, and reflective individuals is evident in her teaching practice and interactions with students.

The committee recognises her as an exceptional educator who stands out among her peers and commends her for making remarkable contributions to teaching-related leadership, both within and outside her immediate programmes.

Dr Marcin Nejthardt
Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine

Dr Marcin Nejthardt’s exceptional teaching philosophy, innovative methods and commitment to creating a comfortable and patient-centered learning environment have set him apart as a distinguished educator who inspires students to be lifelong seekers of knowledge.

Dr Nejthardt’s commitment to inclusion and decolonial practices, along with reflection on marginalised voices, was noted. His innovative techniques employed within a clinical context were highlighted, demonstrating alignment with Vision 2030 goals, authenticity, and the demystification of knowledge.

Dr Nejthardt’s teaching approach is participatory, adaptive and supportive; and goes beyond conventional classroom boundaries. His involvement in developing innovative regional guidelines for anaesthesia showcases his dedication to advancing teaching and learning in the field; and his ability to humanise his teaching, fostering humane clinicians, is a distinctive quality that permeates his portfolio.

One of the ways that he achieves a safe and relaxed learning environment is through the dismantling of traditional hierarchies. Testimony to his remarkable teaching from past students speaks to his students taking on his teaching methods and paying it forward through their training of their own students, and supporting them through the successful completion of their qualifications.

Dr Nejthardt has earned the title of the teacher of the year in the Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine on multiple occasions, a testament to the positive impact of his empathetic and humane character. In the challenging clinical environment, Dr Nejthardt builds rapid rapport, utilising dialogue and discussion to navigate the complexities of the language of anaesthesia and respond to students' questions and needs.

He aptly sums up that his goal is to be a facilitator of meaningful experiences who leads to the growth of both the student and teacher, and who ultimately has an impact beyond the student-teacher encounter, in the development of better ongoing health and patient experiences.

Associate Professor Tasleem Ras
Family, Community and Emergency Care

Associate Professor Tasleem Ras is, at heart, a teacher. Even as a clinician, he includes education with the purpose of enhancing knowledge and supporting deep and meaningful growth and change of patients for their own well-being. His educational and personal journey has committed him to education as an act of radical social transformation.

His teaching practice is described as experiential, transformative and expansive; and borrows from social learning and transformative educational theories. He states that key to learning from experiences is the ability to reflect, and key to deep learning about self is critical reflection.

The testimonials from his students – praising his empathetic and humble approach, ability to bring theoretical knowledge into practice, and transformative impact on their medical practice – underscore the profound influence he has had on those he teaches.

His focus on developing a sense of agency in healthcare practitioners through self-reflection and his commitment to social justice has left an indelible mark on students and colleagues, with a student stating that he uses his academic platform to have a direct impact on communities.

His impact beyond teaching is attested to, through his treating students in a holistic manner and understanding that their personal and social standing circumstances play a huge role in challenging or facilitating the learning process. He also demonstrates a strong commitment to their welfare and is available at any time for them.

The committee commended his scholarship of teaching and learning, and his teaching practice, concluding that it sets him apart as a leader and influencer in medical education.

Please join me in congratulating our 2022 awardees!


Emer Prof Linda Ronnie
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

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