Category Archives: Staff Success

LinkedIn Learning Going Live From 9th November

LinkedIn Learning features a digital library of over 6,000 courses covering a wide range of technical, business, software and creative topics as well as wellbeing education and personal interest. We are excited to announce that we Go Live with LinkedIn Learning through the week of 9th November 2020*.

Getting started
During ‘Go Live’ week, you will receive an activation email via LinkedIn Learning. Don’t delete it! You must activate your LinkedIn Learning account using this activation email. You’ll have the option to connect through your personal LinkedIn profile (recommended!) or activate your account using your Canterbury staff email address.

Instructions for both approaches will be available via the Learning and Development Intranet.

Once you’re in, browse around! Take a course, learn  something new and APPLY it in your day-to-day! Then share your learnings and recommended courses with your colleagues.

*Access is granted to those in continuing and long term fixed term.

Winners Announced for the 2020 UCSA Staff of the Year Awards

The UCSA congratulates the winners of their 2020 Staff of the Year Awards, including Lecturer of the Year Associate Professor Sid Becker!

Since 1995, the awards have given students a voice in nominating and deciding the most inspiring and dedicated staff from across the University.  It also gives them a chance to celebrate their uniqueness – the “Make-up Your Own Title” Award is always a popular category.

Here are the 2020 Staff of the Year winners:

2020 Winners

College of Arts – Nancy Chu
The nominator said, “Nancy Chu has a great teaching style with her warm, bubbly personality, and includes a variety of activities that capture students’ attention. She is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure students have a strong understanding of the syllabus.”
College of Business and Law – Assoc. Prof. Herb de Vries
The nominator said, “Associate Professor Herb de Vries is very kind and passionate about his teaching. He continued to stay optimistic during quarantine, and his homemade echo recordings made Management fun and interesting. He has so much enthusiasm which really keeps students going.”
College of Education, Health and Human Development – Dr Valerie Sotardi
The nominator said, “Dr Valarie Sotardi is a ray of sunshine when she walks into a room! She is motivating, kind, and just an overall amazing person. She excites the class about her topic, is inclusive, responds well to student queries, and has a genuine love for her subject and the students in it.”
College of Engineering – Assoc. Prof. Sid Becker
The nominator said, “Where to start? Associate Professor Sid Becker has legitimate empathy, hilarity, relatability, and consistent dedication to caring about his students, their wellbeing and their understanding of the topic. There is no way to truly represent how integral Sid was to getting students through thermodynamics.”
College of Science – Prof Ian Shaw
The nominator said, “Despite the pandemic, Professor Ian Shaw was lovely in every regard and managed to create a wonderful sense of community among his students. He brought enthusiasm to every lecture and empowered students with the hope for the future. He always replies quickly with a detailed answer to students’ issues and then relays it to the rest of the class.”
Student Create your Own Award – Dr Rachael Tappenden, College of Engineering, for “Most Unexpected Enthusiasm for Penguins”.
The nominator said, “Rachael’s ardent advocacy for the plight of endangered NZ birds should be an example to us all. Admittedly, MATH203 was not where I was expecting to encounter such passion, but lectures are more fun with a tangent or two!”
Student Create your Own Award – David Stiles, Business and Law, for the “Bear Grylls Award”
The nominator said, “He travelled the world and fought off a bear.”
Student Create your Own Award – Hamish Oliver, Music, for the award: “Top Dog of Tangents”
The nominator said, “In lectures, so much of the time was spent on tangents (that were related to, and enhanced, the knowledge that we were learning). These tangents were always entertaining and informative, especially via zoom. There was the time when Hamish ran back and forth across the room (While we were on zoom) to demonstrate bit depth and sample rate. They were enjoyable, that’s for sure.”
Student Create your Own Award – Jan Jakob Bornheim, Law, for the award: “Lecturer who Could be a Youtube Sensation”
The nominator said, “Incredible online lectures with into and outro sequences, perfected the vlog style lectures including memes and cat stories, made studying competition law the most enjoyable experience of lockdown, not often I laugh while learning about abuse of market power but Jan made that possible!”
Student Create your Own Award – Richard Bullen, Art History and Theory, for the award: “Endearingly Obsessed with Their Area of Expertise”
The nominator said, “For lack of a better word, Richard is an absolute Art History nerd. But it was refreshing, endearing and ridiculously captivating. There’s this exuberant way which he talks about art and something as crummy and dusty as art theory. Somehow, how deeply passionate about the subject he was managed to resonate through the class. This was positively delightful. He deserves recognition for how much time and pride he commits to his craft as a lecturer and academic.”
Student Create your Own Award – Tham Piumsomboon, School of Product Design (AIGD), for the award: “Willy Wonka, the Candy King”
The nominator said, “Always has candy to giveaway in class and in his office. We (the class) saw that AIGD has a candy fund just for him but I suspect he buys the candy with his own money for us.”
UCSA Executive Special Award – Steve Gibling, Director of Wellness Services, Student Services and Communications
The nominator said they, “Specifically wanted to recognise this staff member’s formation of the Wellbeing Strategy, their constant support of wanting to help students succeed in the Sport and Rec space in recognition of their service to students over the last heck load of years. They were also a leader in the space of COVID-19 as an incident controller and key in driving and listening to student voices over this time. Without them, students would not have had access to things like hardship help, access to campus, access to learning equipment and more. They are key in supporting this Executive and have been a friend along the way.  Anyone who has worked with them would totally agree when I say their passion for the Association and for students has been instrumental to so many things we have achieved.”
UCSA Executive Special Award – Riki Welsh, Team Leader in the Pacific Development Team
The nominator said, “While their whole team really deserves an award, we have worked really closely with this staff member this year. They have worked at UC for 10 years and are the reason that so many Pasifika students are still enrolled today. They are the team leader over at PDT and it their heart and soul is so clearly in the job. They deserve recognition for their massive contribution to students.”
UCSA Executive Special Award – Anne Scott, University Librarian
The nominator said they chose Anne, “For the unbelievable amount of mahi done to get the library open and keeping it safe for all students over the COVID-19 period in particular. They are a great leader and amazing ally for students here at UC.”
Outstanding Support of International Students Award – Jonie Chang, Senior International Student Advisor, Student Care
The nominator said, “This staff member works tirelessly for the benefit of international students at UC, both in her work with individual students, and as an advocate for the needs of international students in the wider University context. She combines excellent knowledge of the University and its many processes with a great deal of empathy and a keen understanding of the international student experience, having had similar experiences herself. She provides outstanding support to international students at UC, and is truly an asset to the University.”
Above and Beyond Award – Nicole Anfang, Postgraduate Student Advisor, Business School
The nominator said, “This staff member knows the Business School’s postgraduate programmes inside and out, and works hard to ensure students understand the requirements of their programme and how to get the most out of their experience at UC. She is also invaluable in connecting students with other support services at UC, and has a holistic understanding of students’ needs. She also has a deep empathy for her students, having completed a UC Business Taught Masters programme herself in the past. She truly goes above and beyond in her support of postgraduate students in the Business School.”
Best Online Learning – Dr Craig McConnochie
The nominator said, “Dr Craig McConnochie went above and beyond over the first lockdown, and was very quick to get on board with online lectures. They were very clear, well made and his online banter was brilliant. His brightly coloured shirts really popped in an online setting. He also sent weekly emails outlining the work for the week, and drew helpful parallels to his experience as an undergrad during the Christchurch Earthquakes.”
Superstar of the Year – Desmond Breeze
The nominator said, “Desmond Breeze is so kind and understanding. As Year 1 coordinator for primary teaching, he has gone above and beyond to help students out this year. When teaching switched to online, Des was the first to email students and ask how they were, if they needed help with anything, and also most importantly asked about their well-being.”
Great Character – Assoc. Prof. Sid Becker
The nominator said, “There really is no one like Sid Becker. He is such an outgoing character; he has a level of craziness that made thermodynamics interesting, but also really cares about students. One student said ‘I have never seen another lecturer throw a chair to get the attention of the class’. Also: he has a cute cat.”
Technical Staff of the Year – Garry Cotton
The nominator said, “Garry Cotton has such a strong love for learning and individual safety and development. One student said they ‘Learnt more about engineering practice from the week of workshop training he gave than all of ENME 201/221’. He can also teach how to cook the perfect steak!”
Administrator of the Year – Heather Couch
The nominator said, “Heather Couch always goes above and beyond and helps students wherever she can. She always replies to emails almost within the hour despite the number she must receive, is always so supportive, and knows the department inside and out.”
Supervisor of the Year – Assoc. Prof. Michael Grimshaw
The nominator said, “Associate Professor Michael Grimshaw is super supportive and always willing to go to bat for his students.”
Lecturer of the Year Supreme Award – Assoc. Prof. Sid Becker

UC Staff of The Year Awards 2020

The UCSA is excited to announce the nominees for the 2020 UC Staff of The Year Awards! A total of 510 students participated, shining a light on the staff who inspired them.

The top nominees of each category are (in randomised order):

Lecturer of The Year – Arts:

A/P Donald Matheson

Nancy Chu

Dr Lindsey MacDonald

Sergio Redondo


Lecturer of The Year – Business & Law:

A/P Laura Meriluoto

A/P Herb DeVries

Dr Steve Agnew

Ruth Ballantyne


Lecturer of The Year – Education:

Tracy Clelland

Nicki Dabner

Dr Valerie Sotardi


Lecturer of The Year – Engineering:

Dr Tom Logan

Prof Alessandro Palermo

A/P Sid Becker


Lecturer of The Year – Science:

A/P Pieter Pelser

Prof Ian Shaw

A/P Ashley Garrill

Prof Adrian McDonald


Best Online

Nancy Chu

A/P Herb De Vries

Dr Craig McConnochie


Supervisor of The Year:

Prof Annie Potts

A/P Michael Grimshaw

Dr Craig McConnochie


Administrator of The Year:

Edmund Smith

Heather Couch

Phillipa Gourdie


Technical Staff of The Year:

Patrick Branje

Edsel Villa

Garry Cotton

Randall Grenfell


Superstar of The Year:

Gary Gin

Desmond Breeze

Storm Geldenhuis

Garry Cotton


Great Character of The Year Award:

Dr Steve Agnew

A/P Sid Becker

Prof Ian Shaw


Make Your Own Award (Titles of awards will be revealed on the night):

Hamish Oliver

Jan Jakob Bornheim

Rachael Tappenden

Richard Bullen

Tham Piumsomboon


UCSA Exec Awards

Jonie Chang

Nicole Anfang

Anne Scott

Riki Welsh


Now that students have nominated (and voted), please join us at the Staff of the Year Awards ceremony to celebrate.

Friday 28th September at 6:30pm

Location: Haere-roa

Dress code: Smart Casual.

There are limited tickets available for UC staff members not on the nomination list, offered on a first come first serve basis.

Ticket includes a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, nibbles and cash bar.

We have  released 30 General Admission tickets – these are on a first come first serve basis.  Please reserve these online here.

Nominees, please reserve your free tickets for yourself and one guest by Friday 20th September, via email at

Alfred Noble Prize awarded for research paper on ‘Ferrari’ overpass

Congratulations to UC Civil and Natural Resources Engineer Professor Alessandro Palermo, who has been awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Alfred Noble Prize for a 2019 paper he co-authored with UC PhD graduate Dr Mustafa Mashal (now Associate Professor at Idaho State University in the US).  

The paper ‘Low-Damage Seismic Design for Accelerated Bridge Construction’ discusses the experimental testing undertaken as part of Dr Mashal’s PhD. The project was part of a broader government funded programme (NZ Natural Hazard Programme) and led to the development of an innovative, seismically resilient connection at bridge piers (or columns) designed to sustain different levels of earthquakes without damaging the column. In a world-first the low-damage technology was used in the Christchurch Wigram-Magdala Link overbridge project, which opened in 2016. At the time Professor Palermo described the overpass as the “Ferrari” of bridges.

“The novelty of the paper is not just limited to the testing process. The paper also shows how that testing translated into a design solution that was used in a real-life bridge,” Professor Palermo explains.

When notified of the Alfred Noble Prize Professor Palermo says it was a nice surprise, especially coming from the ASCE – one of the most prestigious international associations in civil and structural engineering.

“I’m happy our paper was well-received by the ASCE. Since its publication, it was one of the most downloaded papers in 2019. This award shows the research we’re doing here in New Zealand is at the forefront of earthquake bridge engineering innovation.”

The award will be formally presented to Professor Palermo and Dr Mashal in October this year.

Professor Alessandro Palermo has been awarded the ASCE Alfred Noble Prize for a 2019 paper he co-authored with UC PhD graduate Dr Mustafa Mashal.  

Engagement Australia Excellence Awards 2020: apply here

The Engagement Australia Excellence Awards identify and celebrate the most exciting and impactful engagement activities undertaken by Australian and New Zealand universities. 

At UC we have a commitment to engagement within our community and encourage applications across the seven Award categories:

  • Award for Excellence in Community Engagement
    Recognising outstanding collaborations between communities, higher education and industry for societal benefit. 
  • Award for Excellence in Community Engagement: Closing the Gap
    Recognising outstanding collaborations between communities, higher education and industry that directly reduce disadvantage.
  • Award for Excellence in Industry Engagement
    Recognising outstanding contributions to enhancing the quality of learning and teaching in higher education by members of tertiary education institutions, community and industry partners.
  • Award for Outstanding Engagement for Research Impact
    Recognising excellence in research and development activity, that makes a substantial difference to the community, undertaken jointly by researchers in tertiary education institutes and partners in the community, business and industry.
  • Award for Excellence in Student Engagement
    Recognising outstanding contributions that improve student engagement on campus, with industry and/or in community.
  • Award for Excellence in Alumni Engagement
    Recognising outstanding contributions to enhancing the quality alumni engagement and support in higher education.
  • Award for Outstanding Leadership in Engagement
    Recognising an individual who has made notable contributions to engagement above and beyond that expected for their role, resulting in sustained and impactful partnerships.

Download the Applicant Guidelines>
Visit the Awards Portal to make a submission. Applications close 7pm NZST 31 July 2020.

Award recipients will be announced at the Engagement Australia Awards dinner held in conjunction with the Engagement Australia Annual Symposium in November 2020. More information>