Announcement made during Education Festival

Peter Pelzer and Serena di Palma win Teacher Awards

uitreiking docentenprijs pelzer en Di Palma DUB
Winners Peter Pelzer and Serena di Palma. Photos: DUB

The announcement of the Teacher Awards winners was part of the grand finale of the first edition of the Education Festival, which succeeds the Education Parade. The main idea stays the same, though: it is an annual education party for students and teachers.

Teacher of the Year Peter Pelzer is very much a jack-of-all-trades. In the first-year course Battle for Space (offered in Dutch), he provides freshers with an overview of the spatial history of the Netherlands, paying close attention to the pressing issues of our time and those of the future, such as housing shortages and adapting to a new climate. Pelzer was nominated by the study association Vugs.

In this course, Pelzer uses a podcast (titled Onder Planologen, which means Among Planologists in English, Ed.) and a book (Verantwoordelijk voor de Toekomst, which means Responsible for the Future, Ed.) that he wrote with his UU undergraduates in mind Pelzer is also one of the founders of the Mixed Classroom, a Master's course bringing together students, policymakers and other partners. Since September 1, he has been serving as the director of the programme Education for Professionals at the Faculty of Geosciences.

The judges were impressed by all the work Pelzer has been doing and the way his course addresses the challenges his academic discipline will face in the future. They also heard many positive stories from students, who describe him as an "extremely enthusiastic teacher".

"With great energy, you teach them that the future is malleable," declared the chairman of the awards and former winner, Ronald Bleys, in his laudation. "Students appreciate that you give them the opportunity to challenge themselves and develop themselves."

The other two nominees for the 2023 Teacher Awards were the chemistry Professor Andries Meijerink (nominated by the study association Proton) and the Assistant Professor in Economics Karlijn Morsink (nominated by study association ECU'92).

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Peter Pelzer as he learns that he won the prize. The other nominees were Karlijn Morsink (left) and Andries Meijerink (right). Photo: DUB

Teacher talent of the year
Serena di Palma is this year's winner of the Teacher Talent Award, which is meant for teachers with less than five years of experience. She was nominated by the Pharmacy study association, Unitas Pharmaceuticorum.

The jury praised the way she encourages students to interact in the "somewhat traditional" Pharmacy programme, through active teaching methods and stimulating discussions.

Bleys: "You tell students that they are allowed to make mistakes. You teach them to reflect on themselves and you give all students attention."

The fact that Di Palma learned Dutch in just two years is also highly appreciated by her students, Bleys said. Last week, the teacher spoke with DUB about her reasons for mastering the language quickly.

The two other nominees for the Teacher Talent Award were the History teacher Jorrit Steehouder (nominated by UHSK) and the Economics teacher Mathias Boënne (nominated by ECU'92). The Economics Students' Association had two irons in the fire this year but ended up losing both awards.

In the limelight
A total of 36 lecturers were nominated by study associations this year. In 2022, there were 34 nominations and the prizes went to the historian David Onnekink and the chemist Danny Broere.

This year's two winners get a trophy and a cash prize. The winner of the Teacher of the Year award gets 5,000 euros, while the winner of the Teacher Talent award receives 3,000 euros. The other nominees all win 1,000 euros each. The two student associations that nominated the winners also receive 1,000 euros each.

This was the first time that the award ceremony took place right after the announcement. Previously, the winners only got their prizes a few weeks later, when UU celebrates its anniversary (Dies Natalis). The two winners will still be put in the limelight during the Dies celebration, which takes place on March 27, according to the organisers.

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Winner Serena di Palma is congratulated by Mathias Boënne (left) and Jorrit Steehouder (right).