Excellence can be hard to define but easy to grasp when witnessed in action. The NWU’s annual Teaching Excellence Awards (TEA) are so eagerly anticipated because they recognise real-life role models whose example is an inspiration to all.

The best of the best is Dr Deon van Tonder of the Faculty of Education, who received the coveted Distinguished Teaching Excellence Award (DTEA) during the awards ceremony on 12 March in Potchefstroom. A further 36 excellent lecturers received awards across various categories.

Top lecturer Deon is the deputy-director of the School for Commerce and Social Studies in Education and a senior lecturer, whose research focuses on the professional development of educators.

He is involved in curriculum development of the BEd in further education and training, honours in economic management sciences in education, and teaching and learning for undergraduate and postgraduate students. (Hover on the Read More icon on the left for more information about his teaching philosophy.)

Faculties taking the lead

The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences and the Faculty of Health Sciences produced the most winners overall, with eight awards each, followed by the Faculty of Education with seven awards.

Prof Linda du Plessis, vice-principal and deputy vice-chancellor for planning and Vaal Triangle Campus operations, applauded the winners.

“When we recognise excellence in teaching we are doing much more than motivating academics to achieve a special standard,” she said. “Our celebration is also a way of inspiring others to appreciate what it takes to achieve excellence.”

American football coach Vince Lombardi said “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." This rings especially true when looking at our TEA winners, who have an exceptional understanding of excellence. With them are some senior management members, and the guest speaker at the awards event, Rieta Ganas (front row, right in the centre). Rieta is a lecturer and educational developer at Wits University's Centre for Learning, Teaching and Development.

Be inspired: lecturing excellence in action

This year’s recipient of the NWU’s Distinguished Teaching Excellence Award is Dr Deon van Tonder.

Click on the blocks below to find out who all the winners are, and to learn more about the different categories and how the awards process works.

“Teaching is a special calling that inspires students. It is a special privilege to lead someone to experience something new and develop their own critical thinking and creativity.” – Prof Linda du Plessis


Prof Linda du Plessis, vice-principal and deputy vice-chancellor for planning and Vaal Triangle Campus operations, welcomes the guests and award winners at the ceremony.


In this video, Dr Deon van Tonder tells us what receiving the Distinguished Teaching Excellence Award means to him.