Celebrating Teaching Excellence at LUMS
Extraordinary teachers may be hard to find elsewhere, but not at LUMS. The University recently announced the five winners of the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. These individuals include Drs. Haniya Azam, Imran Cheema, Muhammad Hamad Alizai, and Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem from the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering, and Syed Zahid Ali, Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Dr. Arshad Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor, LUMS, congratulated the group by saying, “We are extremely proud of their individual achievements and the impact they continue to have to support and mentor students, peers and the wider communities they serve. This is a wonderful milestone accomplishment for LUMS that lifts teaching excellence to another level.”
The Award was launched in late 2020 to recognize exceptional and inspirational teachers who have been making a difference to learning and teaching at LUMS as mentors, innovators, and educational leaders. In its inaugural year, the Award was given to five exceptional teachers from across the University; this year we celebrate the contributions of five more instructors who also have had a lasting impact on their students’ learning experiences.
Teaching awards of this stature exist all over the world. Not only do these awards recognise individual excellence but they help to elevate the role of teaching across institutions and beyond. When good teaching, an otherwise private activity, is made more public it sends an important message about the value that we place on learning in our institutions.
According to Dr. Launa Gauthier who led the development of this Award at LUMS, “This Award demonstrates that individuals here are really making a difference each and every day—our students, our programmes, and our entire institution are all better because of the quality learning experiences that great teachers help to cultivate.”
Dr. Suleman Shahid, Director LUMS Learning Institute, who co-led the development of this Award, commented, “This award in an important milestone in the journey of LUMS to celebrate excellence”.
Our great teachers at LUMS are those who unconditionally personify the care and dedication that it takes to make a difference as a teacher. For example, Dr. Azam shared, “Teaching never feels like it’s a burden or chore; it feels natural to me. I love teaching. If you ask me to switch to a purely research position, that’s not for me. I think I wouldn’t be a happier person if I didn’t have this contact with students in the classroom. It’s something that drives me.” And talking about his interactions with his students, Dr. Ali said, “The most important thing for me is that my students learn something. I explain to them that I will not let them down because I’m a tough teacher.”
Having a teaching award with such high-quality standards and selection processes at LUMS makes it the first of its kind in the Country. Any instructor, irrespective of their rank, is eligible to be nominated by faculty, staff, or students. Nominees submit a teaching portfolio that they develop in coordination with their nominator and following robust criteria that resemble international standards for teaching excellence. This year, 20 portfolios were evaluated by a Selection Committee comprising of faculty from the Learning institute, one external international faculty member, and LUMS faculty from each School. From these, the top five were carefully selected for the Award.
Dr. Cheema expressed his joy for winning the Award and said, “I am profoundly honoured and humbled to receive this Award. I believe that this is a team effort and is possible only due to the contributions of many people over the last many years.”
It is the true excitement for learning that permeates through LUMS that make it such an intellectually stimulating environment and thus a place where good teachers are free to innovate, to experiment, and to grow as teachers. Dr. Alizai, commented, “I see this Award as a starting milestone in my teaching and learning journey. I am motivated to engage with my peers on broader discussions about how we can collectively impact student learning and achievement at LUMS.”
Similarly, Dr. Saleem remarked, “It is a blessing to have a galaxy of great mentors and teachers around me who are dedicated to doing their best and imparting quality education. Being nominated for the Award from this galaxy was huge and becoming a recipient of this Award is an absolute honour for me. It gives me a vibe like winning an Oscar but instead of a theatrical performance, mine was a classroom performance.”
These five faculty members along with their peers who won last year, were honoured at the LUMS’ 35 Years celebration event for faculty and staff. They will also receive grants to support a teaching and learning project of their choice and an invitation to the Vice Chancellor’s Retreat Day to share teaching experiences and to collaborate on ideas for future pedagogical projects.
The Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence demonstrates the value LUMS attributes to both supporting teachers’ development at all stages and publicly recognizing quality teaching that that leads to impactful student learning. It is an initiative that has great potential to create a ripple effect that goes beyond individual teachers and classrooms. The Award shows that when we also empower great teachers as educational leaders, their impact grows exponentially in ways that encourage others to learn more and to strive to make a greater impact in the work we do together in higher education.