Long-time SIT Learning Advisor and advocate for tertiary learning support, Dr Jerry Hoffman, has been recognised for his work with a life membership award from ATLAANZ - Association of Tertiary Learning Advisors Aotearoa New Zealand.
New York born-and-raised, after moving to New Zealand, Dr Hoffman began his learning advisory career in 1990, when he joined the staff at Southland Polytechnic (now SIT - business division of Te Pūkenga) as Learning Assistance Tutor.
In the early 1990s, Dr Hoffman became involved in a new initiative called Tertiary Learning Centres in Aotearoa New Zealand (TLCANZ), serving in various functions on the committee, including recruitment and publications.
Over time, the need for a more focussed group became apparent and in 2002, Dr Hoffman was a founding member of ATLAANZ. “We never envisioned in those early days what ATLAANZ would become,” he said. When he first started as a member, the organisation had just a few staff and institutions on board; “today all tertiary institutions have some representation in ATLAANZ,” Dr Hoffman added.
Dr Hoffman was the first member of ATLAANZ to achieve a doctorate; he completed his PhD studies in 2002 with a thesis entitled An Enhanced Model of Learning Support through the University of Otago. With his research offering new insights into student support from the student perspective, Dr Hoffman recalled how it changed the way he approached his learning advisor’s role, "becoming less prescriptive and more open to exploring new ways of trying to help students".
An active researcher throughout his career, Dr Hoffman co-authored The Committed Learners Project (2012), with Sally Bodkin-Allen (SIT) and Jo Whittle (Massey University). He has also been Senior Editor of the Southern Institute of Technology Journal of Applied Research (SITJAR) for the past twelve years.
Having clocked up more than thirty-two years in a learning advisory role, Dr Hoffman said he’s been honoured to be involved in the sector and receive recognition from his peers. From its humble beginnings, he has seen ATLAANZ grow into a professional organisation for tertiary staff in the learning support field.
“It has been a privilege to have worked with so many dedicated staff; just being recognised by other professionals for the work I’ve done, is an honour.”
More importantly, Dr Hoffman emphasised the benefits learning advisors provide to students. "I hope they continue to offer this service, with an ongoing focus of helping students to complete their academic studies to the best of their abilities.”
SIT Executive Director, Daryl Haggerty, said Dr Hoffman richly deserved the accolade which was an outstanding achievement.
“Jerry’s contribution to SIT - Te Pūkenga goes well beyond the classroom in terms of the staff relationships and learning opportunities he has developed and continues to grow. I sincerely thank Jerry for the significant contribution he has made to SIT.”
ATLAANZ President, Tania Oxenham, said when the executive met earlier this year to consider candidates for the life member award, “Jerry’s name was at the top of the list”; there is no shortage of admiration and respect amongst ATLAANZ members for all Dr Hoffman has accomplished, but also for his contribution to the Tertiary Learning Advisor profession and its professional organisation, she continued.
“Honouring Jerry is a natural token of our esteem, not only for the diligence and long service he has given to ATLAANZ, but also for helping to build a strong community of practitioners.”
I te hanganga o tō tātou whare whakaruruhau, koirā ngā poupou hei hāpaitia i ngā moemoea o te katoa |at the building of our whare (profession) there are pou (posts, Jerry being one of them) that uphold the aspirations of those within.
“This limited translation is insufficient to capture how we view Jerry and his commitment to us; however, we hope that it sheds light on our commitment to him,” Ms Oxenham concluded.