Faculty’s best teachers and supervisors recognised with Butland Awards

27 June 2013

Four top teachers or research supervisors from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences were recognised with Butland Teaching Excellence Awards at a function at the faculty on the evening of 25 June.  The Butland Teaching Excellence Awards acknowledge staff who consistently provide exemplary teaching and support to their students within the faculty. The four awards offered each year recognise early career teaching, innovation in teaching, research supervision and sustained excellence over a long period.

The Butland Award for Early Career Excellence in Teaching, recognising less than six years of teaching service,  was awarded to Dr Keryn Reilly from the School of Medical Sciences. In his citation when presenting the award, FMHS Dean Professor John Fraser told the more than 100 attendees that Keryn’s introduction to teaching here was far from straightforward.

“Keryn joined the faculty in 2009, employed to teach anatomy to medical students.  Almost immediately she was thrown a curveball when the human anatomy lab had to close”, said Professor Fraser.  “Far from being thrown by something that would test the most experienced academic, Keryn created an interesting and engaging alternative programme for students.”

“This was but one example of Keryn’s formidable teaching ability that was put before this year’s awards panel.  Keryn has responded to the demands of the increasing size of the medical class and has used the feedback from the alternative anatomy programme to make many improvements to the way we deliver anatomy teaching in the faculty”, he said.   “Her efforts have resulted in close integration of anatomy and radiology and courses packed with clinically relevant material.  Her programme and teaching is greatly admired by her colleagues and highly appreciated by her students.”

The Butland Award for Excellence in Teaching Innovation, introduced for the first time in 2012, was presented to Dr Trudi Aspden from the School of Pharmacy. Trudi has an educational and a research interest in addressing social and health disadvantage, and from these interests she has developed and introduced a range of research-informed and innovative programmes to support Pharmacy students develop cultural competence.

The awards panel was particularly impressed by the adaptation and introduction of two American simulations in cross-cultural relations and poverty across the Pharmacy programme.  Not only did the poverty simulation engage students, but Trudi’s efforts led to wide engagement from School of Pharmacy staff and from members of community organisations such as the Auckland City Mission.

“The panel noted that these new innovations continue Trudi’s record of finding novel approaches to the engagement of students in achieving the competencies required by the Pharmacy Council,” Professor Fraser said at the presentation.  “Innovation seems to be in Trudi’s bones and the panel members look forward to many more innovations in the future.”

The Butland Award for Excellence in Research Supervision was made to Professor Andrew Hill from the School of Medicine. Andrew incorporates his work as a surgeon at Middlemore Hospital with his role as Head of the South Auckland Clinical Campus. This award recognises and rewards a long-term, consistent or broad contribution to research supervision at the Faculty.

“Andrew Hill provided the awards panel with a portfolio that clearly exemplified his excellence in research supervision”, said Professor Fraser.  “Most of Andrew’s doctoral students are young doctors and like others in the Department of Surgery before him he has developed highly successful structures to support these candidates to combine doctoral research at the same time as supporting the early development of their clinical careers.”

At the heart of this success lies Andrew’s extraordinary commitment to his students and in his address to the awards function audience he outlined what he termed his “paternal approach” to research supervision.

“I did not outsource the teaching of basic skills to my children such as hammering in a nail or kicking a ball, and similarly I would not feel right about outsourcing the supervision of doctoral candidates. In fact, I don’t see why a clinical academic would want to do that really,” Professor Hill said, admitting that he takes his mentorship role very seriously.

Professor Fraser: “(Andrew’s) is a whole of person approach, building opportunities for his students to teach medical students, experience the best surgical teams, present at the leading conferences (it is the norm for his student to win presentation prizes at many of these) and publish in leading journals.  His students gain far more than a PhD from this relationship. The comments of his students show that Andrew has created a truly two-way relationship with great benefits to both parties.”

The Butland Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence for 2013 was made to Associate Professor Peter Adams from the School of Population Health. Over 22 years of teaching in the faculty, Peter has led, or been closely involved with the development of 10 programmes beginning with the a communications programme in the medical programme in 1991 and most recently the development of a Masters programme in addiction and mental health.   Throughout this time at the faculty Peter has supervised more than 30 research students including 20 PhDs; he had provided academic leadership as the head of Social and Community Health for 11 years and most recently as the director of the Bachelor of Health Sciences.

“Peter’s portfolio demonstrated that he is a highly successful and respected teacher. He has maintained this standard over many years of teaching, across numerous progammes and across all levels from the undergraduate classroom to PhD supervision,” said Professor Fraser.  “Peter’s portfolio demonstrated his commitment to a strongly applied focus underpinned with a highly developed focus on ideas and theory.”

“He is greatly respected for his support of Māori and Pacific students and scholars,” said Professor Fraser.  “In his time he has pioneered many innovative teaching approaches and has gained the respect of his students and peers

The Butland Teaching Excellence Awards had their origins in an endowment in 1964 to The University of Auckland from food manufacturer and philanthropist, Sir Jack Richard Butland. The food processing pioneer established a Medical Foundation to advance medicine on a broad spectrum within New Zealand and in a specific sense to ensure the planned medical school in Auckland had the best teaching talent it could attract. Almost fifty years on, the Butland Foundation continues to support the best teaching talent that is on offer at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.