2013 Winners

Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence

Two awards presented

Associate Professor Michelle Foster - Melbourne Law School

Michelle Foster’s 15 year teaching career has been dedicated to sharing her passion for the capacity of the legal system to effect social change. Michelle has pioneered a new curriculum in the field of refugee law in both undergraduate and graduate degrees, developed an innovative inter-disciplinary Street Law subject, and inspired students in Constitutional Law. In all of Michelle’s teaching, sophisticated theory is anchored in real- life problems and perspectives, through the introduction of contemporary case-studies and engagement of relevant guest speakers.  Michelle is a dedicated, committed and inspiring teacher who creates an atmosphere of inclusiveness and excitement in the classroom where students feel part of a group committed to learning.


Dr Melanie Plesch - Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

Melanie Plesch has been teaching in higher education in the musicology area in both Australia and Argentina for over two decades. She has developed and taught academic music subjects at undergraduate, Honours, Masters and Doctoral level. She is committed to developing students’ awareness of the nexus between research and performance, and dedicated to fostering a culture of research-led performance in her Faculty. Her teaching is characterised by the use of active learning, student-centred strategies, and by the development of innovative assessment practices. Melanie actively promotes student-teacher interactions outside of the lecture through the use of social media as well as more traditional resources.

David White Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr Jenny Hayes - Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience: Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences

Jenny Hayes is a passionate teacher of anatomy with an outstanding reputation for designing and providing learning opportunities that engage and motivate students in clinically applied anatomy. Jenny uses a variety of approaches including a structured lecture series where the emphasis is on exploring difficult concepts and reinforcing anatomical principles, innovative and interactive practical classes, and dissection classes which contextualize the learning and revision of anatomy and pathology and encourage humanistic qualities of respect, empathy and compassion. In 2012 Jenny organized a formal service of gratitude to which the family and friends of body donors were invited to meet with the staff and students of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience.

Edward Brown Award for Teaching Excellence

Dr Sean Pinder - Department of Finance: Faculty of Business and Economics

Prior to taking up his position as Senior Lecturer in 2001, Sean Pinder lectured at universities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level nationally and internationally. Sean teaches mainly in the area of Corporate Financial Policy. He has extensive experience in designing and implementing innovative approaches to learning and teaching with a focus on providing students with an appreciation and understanding of the context in which financial decisions are made. He has also been active in bridging the gap between finance theory and practice. He does this by getting finance practitioners involved in his lectures while also regularly delivering lectures to members of the finance profession. Sean is also active in conducting - and publishing - finance-specific teaching-related research and is a co-author of the multi-award-winning text Business Finance which is now in its 11th edition.

Gerry Barretto Awards for Outstanding Student Services

Two awards were presented

Phillip O’Neill - Melbourne Students & Learning

Phillip returned to a series of student services related roles in 2002 following a former teaching life in Colombia and South Korea. As Manager of the University’s Contact Centre, he is passionate about evolving a high quality service delivery culture in partnership with an engaged, positive, well-trained team of staff. He is also driven by the need to improve the tools and resources required to enable effective service delivery. Fundamental to his work is a commitment to review, re-think and develop initiatives that empower students to navigate their way through a complex range of systems, procedures and information, support them to self-manage core activities, and encourage greater independence as they journey through their course.


Ms Sandra Woods, Ms Hero Macdonald and Ms Elisa Soerjono - University Library

As Library Learning and Development Consultant, Sandra Woods has lead and coordinated many strategically focused ‘people’ initiatives. Her focus is on quality customer service; building organisational capability and learning, and establishing performance and leadership initiatives (such as the Student Library Assistants program) in all elements of planning, recruitment, training and evaluation.

Hero Macdonald is driven by delivering high quality library services that enhance the experience of students on campus. She has worked as Senior Client Services Librarian in the Baillieu Library since 2010, and over that time has played a key role in the development, ongoing management and evaluation of the Student Library Assistant Program.

As the team leader of the Student IT group, Elisa Soerjono actively encourages student interns to establish and contribute to an efficient and constructive working environment, with a collective focus and commitment to outstanding support service, and a culture of organised collegiality and friendliness.

Award for Outstanding Leadership of University Teaching

Not awarded.

Norman Curry Award for Innovation and Excellence in Educational Programs

“Thesis Boot Camp”

Ms Peta Freestone, Dr Liam Connell and Dr Katherine Firth*
Melbourne School of Graduate Research; *Academic Skills Unit

In June 2012, the Academic Support Team within the Melbourne School of Graduate Research ran the University’s first Thesis Boot Camp (TBC), developed and coordinated by Peta Freestone. Adapted from successful models at leading research universities in the United States, this weekend-long, intensive writing program is the first of its kind in Australia. TBC supports late-candidature graduate researchers towards completion by providing them with the time, space, motivation and support to make significant progress on their thesis draft. Completion-focused programs have been recommended by the Council of Graduate Schools as best practice to prevent graduate researcher attrition and encourage timely completion and TBC is a positive, innovative response to the needs of the University of Melbourne graduate researcher community. There are several measures by which the program is already showing great success: high demand through application numbers, the output of participants at each event, and the feedback received through formal evaluation and communication from participants.

Patricia Grimshaw Awards for Mentor Excellence

Professor Gordon Lynch - Department of Physiology: Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences

Gordon Lynch has a distinguished record of excellence in mentoring students and staff which has been recognised with the University’s Research Higher Degree Supervision Award in 2008 and in 2009 he received a national Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning for over 15 years of mentoring of students in biomedical science. Gordon has mentored multiple winners of the Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence in the PhD and he has already mentored 20 postdoctoral fellows; with many achieving independent success in academia and industry. These include winners of the Premier’s Award for Medical Research and the Victorian Young Tall Poppy Science Award. Gordon cherishes the extensive mentoring he conducts through his role as Head of the Department of Physiology.

James Angus Award for Outstanding Research Higher Degree Supervision

Professor Mary Wlodek - Melbourne School of Graduate Research:  Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences

Mary Wlodek has made an outstanding contribution to the supervision of Research Higher Degree (RHD) candidates. As Deputy Dean, Melbourne School of Graduate Research, she provides training to new and experienced RHD supervisors on policies, procedures and best practice to support graduate researchers to successful completion. Mary has also led policy development and implementation to enhance RHD supervision and outcomes. Importantly, as a Professor in the Department of Physiology, Mary is well-known for her outstanding mentorship of RHD candidates to success in scholarships, travel grants, awards, first-author publications, timely completions, fellowships and academic positions. She champions the University's junior academics (graduate and early-career researchers) through convening the Start of Career and Early Career workshops.

Award for Excellence and Innovation in Indigenous Higher Education

Dr Wayne Atkinson - School of Social & Political Science: Faculty of Arts

Dr Wayne Atkinson, Yorta Yorta elder and Senior Fellow, has taught Indigenous Studies and the related disciplines of Archaeology, History, Politics, and Legal Studies, for 40 years. His specialist course, Oncountry Learning is a highly original and exceptional program that has received exceptional student survey results. Created in 2003, it is taught as a community-based course that embraces the key concepts of experiential and transformative learning. This teaching method combines academic studies with the more tangible learning that students gain from visiting the sites and places that reflect the past history of Indigenous occupation. The quality of learning is further enhanced by local Indigenous knowledge of more recent events that have shaped Indigenous identity and aspirations. The teaching and mentoring that Oncountry provides have resulted in University of Melbourne graduates contributing to Indigenous development in the areas of cultural and environmental protection, education, politics, law, health, engineering, media and the arts.