Teacher of the Year Award

High quality education at Wageningen University is recognized by rewarding teachers involved with their students and their way of teaching, ever since 1981. Wageningen University therefore annually organizes the Teacher of the Year Award. Students can vote for their favourite teacher, after which our student jury choses the winner. The winning teacher and the nominees receive a grant they can spend on new education goals.

Teacher of the Year 2023

The winner of the Teacher of the Year 2023 is Ignas Heitkonig! Students of the jury call him ‘creative’ and ‘authentic’, and say he strives to make abstract ideas understandable. His love for nature and his efforts in favour of biodiversity and nature-inclusiveness were also cited.

Heitkönig discovered his love for teaching during his PhD research in South Africa. After obtaining his PhD, he taught several courses at Venda University. In Wageningen, Heitkönig currently teaches several courses, including Ecological Methods, Animal Ecology andWild Perspectives. He is also active outside of his teaching, says the jury. In 2016 he helped found theFuture for Nature Academy, which aims to encourage students to become involved in nature and biodiversity; he is involved in the Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative and is committed to reducing the number of parking spots on the campus.

Read the full article on the website of Resource.

Curious for an impression of the awardd ceremony on 20 June? Have a look at the photos!

From longlist to shortlist

A total of 1402 students have cast a vote for their favorite candidate between 20 and 26 March. This led to a longlist consisting of 10 teachers, who were then all interviewed by our student jury. Read more about the longlist and the process below or on the website of Resource.
The student jury of the Teacher of the Year decided on the five candidates for the shortlist based on the interviews. The nominees are:

  • dr.ir. Julia (J) Diederen
  • dr. Jessica (JAB) Duncan
  • dr.ir. Ignas (IMA) Heitkonig
  • dr.ir. Klaas (K) Metselaar
  • Anneke (AM) Valk

The decision-making process

All students in their second year or up can vote for their favourite teacher. The outcome of this voting round is a longlist of 10 candidates. Up next, the Teacher of the Year jury consisting of six to eight students conduct in-depth interviews about different aspects of education with the longlist-candidates. Concluding from these interviews, a shortlist of nominees is compiled and the jury choses a winner.

The winner of the Teacher of the Year Award is announced during a ceremony where all candidates are honoured. The award for the Teacher of the Year consists of a replica of the statue 'De Leermeester' by Jan Praet, a certificate of appreciation and the jury report. Next to this, all nominees on the shortlist including the winner receive an individual education bonus of € 1.000.

History and background of the award

In 1981 University Fund Wageningen (at that time the Landbouwhogeschoolfonds) began presenting the Education Award once every four years, in addition to the Research Award, the Entrepreneurs Award and the Press Award. In 1996 the Education Award was replaced by the Teacher of the Year Award to emphasise the important role of lecturers in education. This award was presented in 1996 and 2000. From 2003 onwards, the Executive Committee of the Foundation decided to yearly honour one lecturer, elected by students.

Teacher of the Year 2022

This year's Teacher of the Year election was won by Birgit Boogaard, lecturer in Knowledge Technology & Innovation.

"Today we celebrate Wageningen education," spoke Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol at the start of the awards ceremony. Together with education dean Arnold Bregt and several jury members, he presented the education awards in Impulse.

"This award is an important recognition for bringing African perspectives into Wageningen University's teaching," Boogaard said in her acceptance speech, referring to two of her most important courses: African Philosophy and Social Justice Technology and Development. In her acceptance speech, Boogaard thanked African colleagues who help her teach; her students for showing courage during critical self-reflections and being open to other worldviews; and her colleagues in the Knowledge Technology and Innovation group.

Boogaard also sees the award as an appreciation for her creative and "liberating" teaching methods. Boogaard uses her background as an illustrator during class by drawing an illustration on the board depicting sociological and philosophical concepts. By the end of the lecture series, one large clear illustration is created. "That helps to understand and remember abstract concepts.”

Source and pictures: <L CODE="C142">Resource</L>, Guy Ackermans
Source and pictures: Resource, Guy Ackermans

Teacher of the Year 2021

Dear WUR teacher,

It has already been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us and we had to start working from home. A lot has changed since then, including education.

Ever since 1981, high quality university education is rewarded by the Teacher of the Year Award, organised annually by University Fund Wageningen. This year, instead of putting one teacher in the spotlight, we wanted to applaud all teachers who have made innovative blended education such a major success during the past year.

To express our gratitude and admiration of what has been achieved, we have developed this special video.

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The video can be found here as well.

Again, a big thank you from Wageningen University to everyone who has contributed to realising high quality blended education. And of course a big thank you to all supporting staff and students for their understanding, support and flexibility as well!

Kind regards, on behalf of Wageningen University,

University Fund Wageningen and the Student Council

About the alternative plan for 2021

The Teacher of the Year Award was given a special form in this year’s edition. In other years, one teacher is voted for by students as favorite teacher and receives prize money from the University Fund Wageningen (UFW) for special educational goals. This year, together with a group of concerned teachers, UFW decided that all teachers deserved to be applauded for making innovative, blended education such a major success during the COVID-19 pandemic. To express gratitude and admiration of what has been achieved by all teachers at WUR, UFW developed a special video with the help of students, who sent a warm thank you to all the educational staff. A different destination was also found for the remaining prize money.

Together with a few teachers, Dean of Education Arnold Bregt and Rector Magnificus prof.dr.ir. Arthur Mol decided that the remaining budget would be put to good use at the Anne van den Ban Fund. This fund allows talented students from developing countries to follow an education at Wageningen University & Research. After the completion of their degree, most of these students return home to contribute to the development of their country. With the prize money of the Teacher of the Year Award, in the name of all teachers at WUR, another MSc student from a developing country can study at WUR.

Teacher of the Year 2020

And the Teacher of the Year 2020 is... Arie Nieuwenhuizen!

Biologist Arie Nieuwenhuizen is the Teacher of the Year for 2020. The teacher of Physiology was handed the prize this morning by jury member Anniek Brunink.

The ceremony took place in the human lab in Zodiac, where Nieuwenhuizen had been summoned for a ‘meeting’. This turned out to be a meeting with a delegation from the seven-strong jury that allocated the prize this year. Nieuwenhuizen follows Fred de Boer. He received a certificate, a statuette of The Schoolteacher and the sum of 2500 euros.

Arie Nieuwenhuizen and jury member Anniek Brunink. Photo: © Guy Ackermans.
Arie Nieuwenhuizen and jury member Anniek Brunink. Photo: © Guy Ackermans.
Arie Nieuwenhuizen receiving the Teacher of the Year certificate. Photo: © Guy Ackermans.
Arie Nieuwenhuizen receiving the Teacher of the Year certificate. Photo: © Guy Ackermans.

Lab rat Nieuwenhuizen (50) got through to the last five in 2015 too. Then the prize went to Noëlle Aarts. He won it this time for his enthusiastic and creative teaching style, in which he encourages his students to use him as their lab rat in physiological experiments. He has been working at WUR since 2010, and teaches the basic principles of human physiology and of nutrition and sport.

Nieuwenhuizen studied Biology in Groningen and got his PhD there too. After a research job in industry (at Numico), he worked at the University of Maastricht for five years. After an interim year at the Nutrition Centre, he was invited to Wageningen by Professor Jaap Keijer to teach in the Human and Animal Physiology chair group.

Read more on the website of Resource or read the full article, including interviews with the shortlist, in the digital edition of the Resource magazine on page 24 and 25.

Teacher of the Year 2019

And the winner of the Teacher of the Year Award is...

Associate professor of Resource Ecology Fred de Boer! This is the first time De Boer has won the prize. ‘I didn’t see this coming.’

The jury, which is made up of eight students from different degree programmes and of different nationalities, picked De Boer because he is ‘extremely enthusiastic’ and ‘a master of the use of examples to clarify a message’. Jury chair Suzanne Ruiten: ‘With his boundless enthusiasm, Fred tries to get his passion for nature and ecology across to his students in a way that helps them understand the subject completely. His lessons are quite theatrical. Fred has a full house of 200 students sitting on the edge of their chairs. You could almost hear a pin drop. That’s the way to do it, and that’s how he does it.’

Source and full article: Resource

Photos: Guy Ackermans

Curious about the shortlist of 2019?

This is them:

  • Fred de Boer

    His unique and different ways of teaching is very nice, furthermore, when you can make a course like statistics fun, you deserve the shortlist.
    Student jury 2019

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  • Hannie van der Honing

    She is really involved with her student and the fact that she is super structured makes it very clear to the students what is expected from them.
    Student jury 2019

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  • Huub Savelkoul

    The fact that he makes sure there is no barrier between him and the students makes him very approachable and he keeps his courses fresh with the daily news.
    Student jury 2019

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  • Jessica Duncan

    She is very open to her students and is really skilled in motivating students to think for themselves.
    Student jury 2019

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  • John Beijer

    His passion is incredible, how he talks about his students and teaching is as inspiring as his stories.
    Student jury 2019

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Source & more: Resource

Teacher of the Year Award winners (1981-2018)

Teacher of the Year 2018
Henry van den Brand (Adaptation Physiology)

Teacher of the Year 2017
Jessica Duncan (Rural Sociology)

Teacher of the Year 2016
Roel Dijksma (Hydrology and Water Quality)

Teacher of the Year 2015
Noëlle Aarts (Strategic Communications)

Teacher of the Year 2014
Huub Savelkoul (Immunology and cellular biology)

Teacher of the Year 2013
Dolf Weijers (Biochemistry)

Teacher of the Year 2012
Frits Claassen (Operations Research and Logistics)

Teacher of the Year 2011
Gert Peek (Soil geograpy and landscape)

Teacher of the Year 2010
André van Lammeren (Plant Cell Biology)

Teacher "hors classe" 2010
Huub Savelkoul

Teacher of the Year 2009
Jan den Ouden (Forest ecology and Forest conservation)

Teacher of the Year 2008
Dane Bicanic (Laboratory for Biofysics)

Teacher of the Year 2007
Arie Terlouw (Experimental Zoology)

Teacher of the Year 2006
Theo Hendriks (Operationele Research en Logistiek)

Teacher of the Year 2005
Reint Jan Renes (Communication sciences)

Teacher of the Year 2004
Gosse Schraa (Microbiology)

Teacher of the Year 2000
Dr.ir. R. Miedema
Dr. W.G. Braakhekke
Ing. G.J.W.C. Peek

Education prize 1996
Dr.ir. A.W.S.M. van Egeraat

Education prize 1993
Dr.ir. P.M. Driessen
Drs. L.M. Breedveld (honorable mention)

Education prize 1991
Ing. T.H. Klein Essink
Ir. P.J. Linde

Education prize 1987
Drs. F. Dietz
Drs. W.J.M. Heijman
Drs. E.C. van Ierland
Dr. J.J. Krabbe
Ir. E.P. Kroese
Drs. E.A. Oskamp
Ir. M. Vervoorn (honorable mention)

Education prize 1984
Prof.dr. C.M. Karssen
Ir. E.P. Kroese (honorable mention)
Ir. R.P.M. Schout (honorable mention)

Education prize 1981
I. P. Koorevaar
Dr. J.A.M. Mattheij