The Excellence Awards

Tuesday 4th June 2019

Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East

The Excellence Awards present an opportunity for students to celebrate the work of staff across the University of York who have a positive impact on their academic experience. Entirely student led, the Awards recognise the teachers and staff that are making an outstanding contribution to students’ lives.

Full descriptions of each award can be found below as well as on the nomination form. Please note that the judging panel will be looking for a clear explanation of the staff member's contributions and impact they have on students and their studies.

Award Categories

Click on each category to find out more.

Which contact hours do you feel you get the most out of because the teaching staff make best use of your time and challenge you academically?

We are looking for teaching staff who:

  • Is at the forefront of developing teaching methods that meet the needs of different types of learners.
  • Consistently deliver stimulating lectures that motivate students to learn.
  • Communicates subject knowledge in a clear way as well as providing engaging opportunities for discussion and debate.
  • Makes themselves available to students and help them outside of contact hours.
  • Gives prompt, relevant and formative feedback.

Can you think of someone who has had a significant, positive impact on your experience through their support, guidance and advice?

If you are a PhD student, please use the PhD Research Supervisor of the Year category.

We are looking for an academic supervisor who:

  • Is a constant source of enthusiasm and maximises students’ potential.
  • Provides honest and open feedback that encourages students to improve.
  • Has a clear concern for the emotional well-being of their supervisee, making themselves available when needed and provides relevant information.
  • Help students think about the future and guides them through their next steps.
  • Remembers previous discussions and proactively follows up on queries or issues on behalf of the student.

Is your PhD Research Supervisor the most supportive, motivating and challenging and is helping you to achieve your highest standards?

We are looking for a research supervisor who:

  • Is truly dedicated and works flexibly with their supervisee.
  • Is always happy to go the extra mile in supporting their students.
  • Provides supervision that is well-structured and challenging in a nurturing environment allowing students to develop both academically and personally.
  • Helps their supervisee develop professionally and build confidence in working towards their next steps.
  • Gives every opportunity for students to contribute to the fields relating to their PhD.

Which Graduate Teaching Assistant or Demonstrator do you look up to the most because they enrich your course with their effort and expertise?

We are looking for a GTA or Demonstrator who:

  • Delivers quality, enthusiastic teaching, bringing fresh perspectives to module content.
  • Endeavours to make their contact time valuable and has a positive impact on the learning experience of their students.
  • Provides constructive feedback and is always happy to discuss further.
  • Is knowledgeable, reliable and always gives constructive advice ensuring students follow relevant protocol.
  • Effectively contributes to the academic experience within the department.

Who do you think deserves a bit of recognition for everything they do for students? This can be any non-academic staff!

We are looking for a member of staff who:

  • Is not an academic but who works in admin, support services, careers, the library, IT, catering, portering or even a students’ union.

  • Who brightens your day on campus and supports and improves your academic experience more than anyone else, regardless of their role.

  • Constantly and gladly goes above and beyond their call of duty.

  • Is always approachable, welcoming and on hand when needed.

  • Someone who has made a long-lasting positive impression on you.

Is there someone who inspires you to push yourself, achieve more than you thought you could and develop a deeper interest in your subject?

We are looking for someone, academic or non-academic, who:

  • Sets a shining example to both students and staff with their passion and energy.
  • Demonstrates love for their work which is infectious or whose own achievements motivates students to strive for excellence.
  • Encourages students to get the most out of their time at university, whether academically, socially or personally.
  • Has, perhaps, inspired you to pursue a particular career or to go onto further study.
  • Spurs you on to keep going even if things are tough.

Do you get clear feedback with an explanation behind your mark and suggestions for what you can work on to get a better grade next time?

We are looking for someone who:

  • Consistently gives timely and constructive feedback.
  • Gives more than just a grade, instead explains both what you have done well and what you need to improve on.
  • Recognises you want to improve regardless on what score you achieved.
  • Provides tailored feedback that drives you to do better and gain a better understanding of your subject.
  • Perhaps also offers opportunities to discuss your assessment in person.

Is there someone who stands out as an advocate for students and actively improves the way things are currently done in their department?

We are looking for a staff member who:

  • Not only listens to the student voice but acts on it to make positive changes.
  • Puts the student voice first and takes on feedback with an open mind and cooperative attitude.
  • Is enthusiastic in working with student reps engaging with them on an equal footing.
  • Is proactive and strives to prevent issues before they become problems.
  • Actively promotes and enables a collaborative learning environment and genuinely values the student perspective.

Is there a member of staff who actively instills and reflects diversity and equality in everything they do?

We are looking for a staff member who:

  • Develops their curriculum to include a diverse range of voices and opinions.
  • Supports students and staff from any background to achieve in their field or career.
  • Pushes students to challenge their perceptions and stereotypes.
  • Goes above and beyond to ensure equality and diversity is embedded in their sessions.
  • Encourages the accurate representation of staff and students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Is there a staff member who has gone beyond acknowledging a need or highlighting the gaps by embedding processes that create a safe and accessible environment for all?

We are looking for a staff member who:

  • Ensures that their online provisions not only meets but exceeds accessibility obligations.
  • Encourages staff or students with accessibility requirements to play an active role in developing the curriculum.
  • Has had a lasting impression on the way you view accessibility.
  • Has adapted their practice to ensure that their sessions are truly accessible for all.
  • Has worked hard to make the disabled student learning experience better.

Is there someone who embeds employability into the curriculum and supports you in your future career goals?

We are looking for a staff member who:

  • Helps you to explore all the different career routes you can go into with your degree, not just pushing you into the obvious choices.
  • Provides opportunities for you to gain experience and skills which will benefit you in the workplace.
  • Makes you consider how your degree fits into the wider world, not just the classroom.
  • Encourages you to attend a careers-related event or helped you to network.
  • Inspires you and encourages you to achieve your career aspirations.

This award is to recognise those who positively impact on student learning and, through the year, have reacted to feedback and always go the extra mile to make improvements. This award is not necessarily for a department, but for the person or persons who, on the whole, have contributed to supporting students in their everyday studies either inside or outside the classroom and encourages students to take action on issues that affect student life (e.g. sustainability).

Nominations for this year's Excellence Awards are now closed.


Teacher of the Year

Winner: Peter O'Brien (Chemistry)
Highly Commended: Phil Lightfoot (Physics)

Supervisor of the Year

Winner: Louise Lepage (TFTV)
Highly Commended: Christoph Baumann (Biology)

PhD Research Supervisor of the Year

Winner: Penny Spikins (Archaeology)
Highly Commended: Claire Chambers (English)

GTA of the Year

Winner: Ruolin Hu (Education)
Highly Commended: Charlotte Rowley (Archaeology)

Unsung Hero of the Year

Winner: Jenny Smith (Cookies)
Highly Commended: Jay-Jay Luckmann, Steve Foster, Andrew Hunter, Matt Brannan (Technician Team, TFTV)

Most Inspiring

Winner: David Smith (Chemistry)
Highly Commended: Freya Sierhuis (English)

Outstanding Feedback

Winner: Stephen Minta (English)
Highly Commended: Ignacio Jurado (Politics)

Supporting the Student Voice

Winner: Alison Parkin (Chemistry)
Highly Commended: Ruth Penfold-Mounce (Sociology)

Promoting Equality and Diversity

Winner: Sara De Jong (Politics)
Highly Commended: Edward Robson (SPSW)

Supporting Accessibility

Winner: Walter Van Opstal (Space & Accommodation, Directorate of Estates & Campus Services)
Highly Commended: Mariana Lopez (TFTV)

Championing Careers

Winner: Amanda Barnes (Biology)
Highly Commended: Fabien Baugard (Management)

Academic Officer's Award

Winner: Jane Iddon (Academic Support Office)
Highly Commended: Ed Braman (TFTV)

The Excellence Showcase

Before the Excellence Awards on Tuesday 4 June, our Excellence Showcase offers students and staff an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on our student voice practices. The Showcase is open to all and the sessions will explore experiences and understandings of Students as Partners. Sessions include:

  • Keynote: Exploring student-staff partnerships - concepts, practice and excellence (Dr Abbi Flint)/p>

  • Lightning talks from Students as Partners projects across the University,

  • Panel Discussion: A joint exploration of excellence in student partnership (Student Voice Advocates)

Registration is officially open so for the full agenda and to book your free ticket please visit