2019 Lecturers of the Year

Each year, the Department singles out two individuals who have demonstrated teaching excellence, taken new risks in their pedagogy, and/or otherwise distinguished themselves in their service to the Department. It is with great pleasure that we announce Dr. Clayton Ashton and Dr. Maoreng Cheng as our 2018/19 Lecturers of The Year.

Maorong Cheng

In recent years, Maorong has been a key figure in strengthening the academic standards in content-based Chinese literature courses. His courses are never easy but he has never once compromised his standards of teaching, even though such compromises might have won him higher scores in student teaching evaluations. In the classroom, he is attentive to his students’ needs and always strictly and skillfully channels his teaching for them. His passion for and his scholarly approach to teaching have been great assets to the Chinese Language Program and the undergraduate students in his classes.

Dr. Maorong Cheng started teaching in the Chinese Language Program in the Department of Asian Studies in 1999 and has been an indispensable part of the Chinese Language Program ever since. Over the years, he has taught Chinese courses from the 100 level as well as at the most advanced 450+ level. In his 20 years of teaching at UBC, Cheng laoshi has maintained a consistently excellent record in both teaching and service.

Maorong has been actively involved in curriculum enrichment projects for the Chinese language program. He stays abreast of the most recent developments in modern Chinese literature and has contributed significantly to the recent renovation of the CHIN481/483 sequence. He also readily agreed recently to teach Contemporary Chinese Fiction in Film, two sections of which have been offered for the first time this term with over 120 students and a long wait list.

Maorong was also one of the early embracers of the Peer Review of Teaching process for Lecturers. After his own successful review, he agreed to serve as a reviewer, and in that capacity has offered constructive feedback on the PRT form and procedures, and has helped to shape Lecturer PRT into a rigorous but helpful process for all involved.

But Maorong is far more than just an instructor in the classroom; he is actively involved in all manner of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in the Chinese program and the Department. If you get the chance, make sure to visit his calligraphy booth during the Department’s Lunar New Year celebration, which is always oversubscribed.

Clayton Ashton

Normally our Lecturer of the Year awards go to Lecturers teaching primarily (or exclusively) language courses in the Department, but Dr. Clayton Ashton is richly deserving of an exception to this standard operating procedure. First, it should be noted that Clayton has taught a shockingly broad range of ASIA-prefix content courses. To date, he has taught all of the following courses at least once, almost always with robust enrollments (some of the courses he has developed himself):

-ASIA 320 (History of Early China)
-ASIA 332 (Confucianism in China and Beyond: Reinventions of Tradition)
-ASIA 354 (Introduction to Japanese Cinema)
-ASIA 371 (Foundations of Chinese Thought)
-ASIA 372 (Development of Traditional Chinese Thought)
-ASIA 381 (Daoist (Taoist) Religion and Its Philosophical Background)
-ASIA 382 (Buddhism in China)
-ASIA 498 (Asia in Museums/the Museum in Asia)
-ASIA 499 (Honours Thesis)

Moreover, despite this challenging regime of 8 well-enrolled lecture courses per year, Clayton has garnered uniformly excellent course evaluations from his students. The numerical statistics are excellent, but to read through his students’ qualitative comments is a truly humbling experience. Though still only a few years out of his PhD and despite his profound modesty about his research and knowledge, Clayton’s students regard him very highly. Many superlatives and other nice things emerge consistently from his evaluations: students invariably describe him as engaging and approachable, passionate about the subject matter, respectful in class, always available outside of class, dedicated to his students and teaching, and rigorous but fair in his grading standards. One encounters the phrase “One of the best professors I have ever had at UBC” time and again while reading through his evaluations.

Colleagues also appreciate his work, and have noted how scrupulous Clayton is about following through on time-consuming academic misconduct cases, and in preparing course materials. They also note his generosity in sharing what he has learned with his colleagues—whether through his own teaching classroom experience or through the seminars, workshops and other professional development opportunities that he seeks out. Clayton’s teaching stands as a model for us all.