“What do you think that it is?” Eleonore (Leo) Köhler, professor of Clinical Anatomy, asks while pointing to a circa 40-centimetre-high statue on her desk. “I have thought long and hard about it and I think it is a one-winged angel bending forward. The statue, a certificate and a “huge bunch of flowers” form the Wynand Wijnen Education prize, which has been awarded during Maastricht University’s foundation day celebrations every year since 1994 to a member of staff who has made an exceptional contribution to education.
The name of the art object is ‘Obrigado’,” Portuguese for ‘thank you’. Her students are clearly thankful, as appeared from both the introduction video and the form filled in by her colleagues in order to nominate her. Both contained an avalanche of praising words. “The first e-mail address that the students know off by heart is yours” and “She always listens, pays attention to her students. Also, it doesn’t matter if she is really busy - she is all the time - but she is always there for the students,” the video says.
Köhler played a major role in the reform of the bachelor’s programme of Biomedical Sciences. Her colleagues describe a situation during the graduation ceremony of the first students to have completed the new bachelor’s. “Leo was honoured with a standing ovation,” when she approached the stage for her speech. “Something we had never witnessed before.”
Köhler emphasised that she may have been the one to receive the prize, “but that it is a team effort. I worked really hard, but so did a hundred others.” The fact that she won, has to do with visibility, she thinks. As a bachelor’s co-ordinator she is very visible. In addition, Köhler is a mentor, she supervises practicals, she gives lectures, assesses writing assignments, and she is a tutor in two tutorial groups each year. “I do all kinds of things, then you get noticed.”
“The best thing about education is working with students,” says Köhler. “You see how they grow; I love that. I also learn from them, for example, when they ask unexpected questions. Such questions make me think about how I can improve matters for the students.”
“My dream for the future is no more curriculum revisions in the coming years, but systematic improvements to the existing one,” says Köhler. At the moment, for example, her department is working on a series of practicals in which senior students supervise junior students. “Through the feedback that we get from students, our practicals are only getting better and more instructive.”
Traditionally, also the Student Awards have been handed out during the dies to the bachelor and master’s students with the best theses of the year.
The nine winners of the masters:
- FASoS: Sem Duijndam and Nicolle Becke Franco
- FHML: Johanna Bödder and Floor Pinckaers
- LAW: Sara-Jane McIntyre
- FSE: Florian Wimmenauer
- SBE: Monika Riecken de Chavarria and Ferdinand Manuel Pieroth
- FPN: Jeremy Saal