Teacher of the Year Award

Ever since 1981 high quality education on the university is stimulated by rewarding the teachers most concerned with their students and their way of teaching. Every year, University Fund Wageningen organizes the Teacher of the Year Award. Students can vote for their favourite teachers, after which our student jury hands out the price. The winning teacher and the nominees receive money they can spend on new education goals.

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.

Winner 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
Arie Nieuwenhuizen and jury member Anniek Brunink
Arie Nieuwenhuizen receiving the Teacher of the Year certificate
Arie Nieuwenhuizen receiving the Teacher of the Year certificate

Photos: © 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.

Shortlist 2020

Henry van den Brand

Henry is very involved with his students. He shows that by trying to remember everyone's name and by being active outside of classes too, for example he joins activities from study associations or attends 'borrels' to get in touch with students.
Student jury 2020

Hannie van der Honing

Hannie made it to the shortlist because she puts a lot of effort into thinking about how she can become a better teacher. The innovation of her education reflects how involved she is and how passionate she is about her students.
Student jury 2020

Tijs Ketelaar

Students appreciate that Tijs is not afraid to get silly and use humour during his classes. It's a way for him to connect to students while also teaching them something, and shows that he is committed to explaining things in such a way that everyone can understand them.
Student jury 2020

Arie Nieuwenhuizen

Arie makes sure to highlight his 'human side', by admitting mistakes he's made, something the jury appreciates. It makes him more approachable. His practicals are also very much appreciated, they are innovative and interesting and really get students involved.
Student jury 2020

Ute Sass-Klaassen

Ute is, first of all, handling the current situation very well, which shows in her teaching. The jury likes that she pays attention to cultural integration in the classroom and that she plays diverse roles, such as those of coach and coordinator, rather than being a teacher only.
Student jury 2020

Read more in the Resource article. Take note: the article is written in Dutch.

Longlist 2020

The long list for the election of Teacher of the Year has been made public. Two new names are featured on the list: Arnold van Vliet and Bastiaan Engel. A total of fifteen teachers have been nominated for the award for best WUR-teacher.

Some former winners are also nominated, such as Henry van den Brand (2018), Roel Dijksma (2016) and Jessica Duncan (2017). A total of  17.53 per cent of the students cast a vote for their favourite teacher.

The 2020 longlist, in alphabetical order:

  • Henry van den Brand
  • Roel Dijksma
  • Jessica Duncan
  • Bas Engel
  • Hannie van der Honing
  • Argyris Kanellopoulos
  • Tijs Ketelaar
  • Kris van 't Klooster
  • Klaas Metselaar
  • Arie Nieuwenhuizen
  • Ute Sass-Klaassen
  • Elke Scholten
  • Anneke Valk
  • Jet Vervoort
  • Arnold van Vliet

Read more in the Resource article.
Text: Luuk Zegers

Winner 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

Former Teacher of the Year Award winners

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

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 instructors in education. This award was presened in 1996 and 2000.

In 2003 the Executive Committee of the Foundation decided to publicly honour one instructor every year with the aim of focusing attention on the importance of good education and to reward instructors who, especially in the opinion of their students, have excelled as a teacher. Students therefore play an important role in deciding the winner of the Teacher of the Year Award. the Award consists of a replica of the statue 'De Leermeester' by Jan Praet (the original is located in front of the Leeuwenborch), a certificate of appreciation and the jury report. Also all nominees on the shortlist receive a cash prize of € 2500.

This new award was presented first in 2004. Every year from then on, six to eight students join effors as members of the Teacher of the Year jury. With the support of University Fund they promote the eclections, in which all students in their second year and up can vote for a maximum of three of the 250 by course evaluations selected teachers. Next the jury has an in-depth interview with all the chosen teachers about different aspects of educating. From that a shortlist of nominees is made and a provisional winner is presented to the Executive Committee of the Foundation. Based on the nomination by the jury and in name of the Executive Committee of the Foundation, the winner of the Teacher of the Year Award is announced at the beginning of each calendar year.