During the commencement ceremonies at Ukrainian Catholic University on June 22, Professors of the Year 2024 received awards. These were Bohdan Chuma, Assistant Professor of the Department of Modern and Contemporary World History of the UCU Humanities Faculty, and Nataliya Terlych, Professor at the UCU Applied Sciences Faculty. Orysya Vira, Professor of the UCU History Department, received a special award.

Professors of the Year with Rector Taras Dobko

 

 

 

For the fourth year in a row, at the recommendations of students, graduates, and colleagues, the community of Ukrainian Catholic University has presented Professor of the Year awards and continues to witness that dignity and academic virtues are at the heart of our unity and our joint UCU identity.

An individual can only receive the Professor of the Year award once. This condition creates healthy motivation for growth and creates opportunities to recognize the masterful teaching of all professors. The award focuses on the importance of appropriate evaluation of quality teaching at the university and the spread of successful teaching practices.

Stepan Fedynyak, head of the awards committee and a laureate of Professor of the Year 2023, stated that, when during the selection process, members of the committee received many positive comments about the nominees from students and colleagues: “I am happy and proud that I work in such a community. Each professor has his or her particularities. We saw much enthusiasm in the eyes of students when they described their professors. Professors, somewhere in their souls, after their classes expect ‘applause’ from their students. I can say with certainty that the students’ comments about our laureates can be considered thunderous applause!”

We note that students, graduates, professors, and staff of UCU had until April 15 to propose candidates for the awards by contacting the awards’ committee. The final stage was speaking with students, colleagues, and administrators to find out more about the finalists, their approach to teaching, the way they involve students in scholarly endeavors, and their preparedness to share their experience.

“UCU President Archbishop Borys Gudziak loves to emphasize the importance of the word ‘thank you.’ The Professor of the Year award gives us an opportunity to thank each other, because professors who have received this award, and the students who have supported them, deserve thanks. Today it is certainly important to support one another,” added Stepan Fedynyak.

We’re glad to acquaint you with the laureates of Professor of the Year 2024.

Bohdan Chuma has a candidate’s degree in history, teaches at the UCU Humanities Faculty, is Assistant Professor of the Department of Modern and Contemporary World History, and heads the master’s program The Future of Heritage: History, Culture, Literature. He teaches courses in the history of modern and contemporary Europe and America and is the author of a number of special courses in Spanish studies. In 2022, he became a laureate of the Order of Isabella the Catholic. He is involved in building long-lasting cooperation with the Spanish Embassy in Ukraine through popularizing the Spanish language and culture in our country.

Rector Taras Dobko presents the award to Bohdan Chuma.

 

 

 

 

 

Bohdan Chuma said that it is important for professors in wartime to know how to love and communicate: “For me, to love means to be emotionally supportive of the student, ready to listen and hear, to understand and trust. And communication is the foundation of community life. Witnessing and serving begins with communicating. I think that these are particularly important in wartime. Listen to another so that he or she will listen to you.”

The professor emphasized that education in wartime has many challenges: a hybrid format, air raids, and power outages, which interrupt lessons. “It’s more difficult, with personal problems and students’ worries. My response to this challenge is not to go too deep but remember that all the students, whatever emotions they are showing, are living through the war. So yet one more word of encouragement, one more opportunity to go over a missed lesson, one more hour to turn in an essay after the deadline has passed: these are small steps of support. Because the professor, above all, should be a good advisor, open to cooperation,” shared Bohdan Chuma.

Nataliya Terlych teaches courses in Econometrics and the Theory of Probability and Mathematical Statistics at the UCU Applied Sciences Faculty. The students note the planning and organization of her educational courses and their structure. The professor encourages a deep understanding of the material, not simply mechanical memorization. Terlych makes many efforts to improve the courses she teaches, so that the students can more deeply master the material and better understand it in the wider context of practical use.

Nataliya Terlych said that, for her, being a professor in wartime means bearing additional responsibility before the country’s defenders and before the country, both now and after victory: “In addition to the fact that we have to teach our courses, we also have to try, together with the students, to understand our role and place in this war. We can conduct classes and study only thanks to the fact that someone has left everything and is now living in difficult circumstances and superhumanly defends our peace and chooses such a costly victory. Our defenders expect the best results from us. We can’t let them down.”

Nataliya Terlych receives the award.

 

 

 

 

 

This year the committee also selected a laureate for a special award. This was given to Orysya Vira, who teaches the course Digital History for the UCU Humanities Faculty.

Stefan Fedynyak, head of the committee, thus explained the decision: “Right now, Orysya is only teaching one course at UCU. The committee decided to recognize the professor’s work, because her course combines history and digital technology.”

The students say that class with Orysya Vira is distinguished by a special approach which requires much practicum. The professor additionally is involved with translating courses in programming so that the students can more easily master the necessary knowledge, with additional instruction in explaining the themes. Most important, say the students, is that it’s ok with her to make a mistake, because everyone knows that Prof. Vira will always help and is always ready to spend time to teach something new and interesting.

The community of Ukrainian Catholic University congratulates the laureates of the Professor of the Year 2024 award. We hope that their example and service continue to inspire their colleagues and students, so they can overcome challenges and reach new heights!