Andrea Rotenberg

Recipients of the teaching staff of the year awards have been announced

Based on the submitted proposals, the committee formed by the UT Student Union chose the recipients of the teaching staff of the year awards for 2023. 

Teele Kanarbik, Vice President of Student Body, said that there are many excellent teaching staff members at the university. There were a lot of candidates and the selection was therefore difficult. This year, lecturers were praised and thanked in particular for creating a safe and inspiring learning environment and for treating students as equal partners. 

"As expected, students are grateful for supportive and timely feedback," Kanarbik added. "The quality of the feedback is evident in the praise given: a good lecturer does not criticise but helps solve problems. If they have to be tough, they should know how to deliver criticism in a way that does not damage the learner's positive self-image. They should be strict enough to make the learner want to do their best, but at the same time gentle enough to encourage the learner to make a voluntary effort." 

According to Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk, the reasons given pointed out also that a good lecturer demonstrates to students the latest research trends in his or her field, integrates research into the course and recommends specific sources to students. 

"Students speak highly of lecturers who collaborate with other lecturers in teaching their subject and involve specialists from different fields in their courses," said Valk. "A good lecturer guides students in the right direction and helps them form links between courses. They support students in solving real-life professional problems to acquire and consolidate theory and create opportunities for discussion in their classes." 

Jane Klavan
Jane Klavan (author: Andres Tennus)

The University of Tartu teaching staff of the year 2023 award at the Institute of Foreign Languages and Cultures of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities goes to Associate Professor of English Language Jane Klavan. She is an incredibly pleasant, approachable and active lecturer who cares about her courses and her students, supports students' independence and values the creation of an environment based on trust. Jane Klavan's lectures and seminars are never monotonous or boring, as she uses a variety of methods to reinforce what she has taught and inspires learning through creative homework assignments. Although attendance is not compulsory in many of her courses, the auditorium is always full, which shows the effectiveness of her teaching: she motivates students with her great work ethic. Jane Klavan appreciates student feedback, knows everyone by name and approaches every problem in a sympathetic and practical way. 

Other nominees at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities: 

  • Kristiina Johanson, Research Fellow in Archaeology 
  • Inga Laant, Teacher of English 
  • Atko-Sulhan Remmel, Associate Professor of Religious Studies 
  • Mati Laur, Professor of Modern History 
Valter Parve
Valter Parve (author: Andres Tennus)

The University of Tartu teaching staff of the year 2023 award at Pärnu College of the Faculty of Social Sciences goes to Teacher of Social Work Valter Parve. He is a dignified lecturer who puts his heart into his work and is undeniably an expert in his field. Valter Parve knows that learning is based on cooperation. He encourages students to ask questions and always answers thoroughly and with good humour. His enthusiasm and inspiration ignite a passion for social work in the hearts of all. In addition to teaching the basic courses of the curriculum of Administration of Social Work and Rehabilitation, Valter Parve tries to help first-year students settle into university life. Students do not want to miss his lectures for they connect professional knowledge and life wisdom: practical examples help understand the subject matter and the importance of social work. 

Other nominees at the Faculty of Social Sciences: 

  • Piret Ehin, Professor of Comparative Politics 
  • Ingrid Koni, Lecturer in Pedagogy 
  • Merle Taimalu, Associate Professor of Pre-school Education 
  • Helen Urmann, Teacher of Comparative Politics 
Helen Zirnask
Helen Zirnask (author: Andres Tennus)

The University of Tartu teaching staff of the year 2023 award at the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine goes to Lecturer in Human Anatomy Helen Zirnask. She is responsible for one of the most challenging courses for first-year students, which is simplified by her sense of humour and manner of presentation. In spite of the large study volume of her course, learning anatomy is somewhat easier thanks to Helen Zirnask, because the practical classes have a good learning environment and atmosphere. Her excellent temperament makes even seemingly frightening visits to the autopsy room bearable. Although the study material is complex, the lecturer maintains a light and positive approach and gives real-life examples from her own work experience. Even at eight o'clock in the morning, students come to her class in a good mood and with a smile on their faces. Helen Zirnask keeps constant contact with students and treats them with understanding. By highlighting the key mistakes of previous learners, she helps current learners not to repeat them. 

Other nominees at the Faculty of Medicine: 

  • Ott Kiens, Junior Research Fellow in Pulmonology 
  • Riina Runnel, Lecturer in Oral and Dental Diseases 
  • Janne Tiigimäe-Saar, Lecturer in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 
  • Meeme Utt, Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Associate Professor in Immunology  
Edith Viirlaid
Edith Viirlaid (author: Andres Tennus)

The University of Tartu teaching staff of the year 2023 award at the Institute of Chemistry of the Faculty of Science and Technology goes to Lecturer in Colloidal and Environmental Chemistry Edith Viirlaid. She is flexible in her work and gives students the opportunity to learn and grow as much as possible. Solving the tests in her course requires extensive work with the study material, which gives the learner the knowledge they need for practical classes. Edith Viirlaid is a very helpful, pleasant and enthusiastic teacher who teaches her course with total dedication. Her lectures, practical classes and seminars are never boring and help students to really understand the subject at hand. 

Other nominees at the Faculty of Science and Technology: 

  • Jaan Janno, Teacher in Informatics 
  • Sirje Pihlap, Junior Lecturer in Didactics of Mathematics 
  • Natalia Saealle, Lecturer in Mathematics 
  • Taavi Virro, Associate Professor in Hydrobiology

The University of Tartu teaching staff of the year award is given to recognise one teaching staff member in each faculty for excellent teaching skills in the previous year. The evaluation proceeds from the good practice of teaching. Students can nominate candidates for recognition throughout the year. The student council of each faculty chooses the five best teaching staff members of their faculty, from among whom the evaluation committee of the University of Tartu Student Union selects the recipients of the award. In 2023, 96 proposals for recognition with the teaching staff award were submitted, nominating 68 teaching staff members. 

Austame erinevusi märgised

University of Tartu recognised again with "Respecting differences" quality label

Rektor Toomas Asser sai Soome presidendilt Alexander Stubbilt Soome Valge Roosi Rüütliordu I klassi komandöri aumärgi

Rector Toomas Asser received the Commander First Class decoration of the Order of the White Rose of Finland

Vabariigi Presidendi Kultuurirahastu preemiate laureaadid

Awards of the Cultural Foundation of the President of the Republic given to Hedvig Tamman and Liisa Rätsep