Professor Mordecai Golin awarded the Michael G Gale Medal for Distinguished Teaching (2008)


The Michael G Gale Medal for Distinguished Teaching was established by the University Council in 1994 to recognize an academic staff member who best exemplifies the continued pursuit of excellence, devotion to teaching and ability to inspire and motivate.

Established by the University Council to commemorate the late Council Founding Member Michael G Gale for his outstanding contribution, this year the award goes to Prof Mordecai J Golin, a Computer Science and Engineering Professor and expert in the design and anlaysis of algorithms.

Prof Golin received his doctorate from Princeton University and joined the University in 1993. He is currently the Chair of the Senate Committee on Postgraduate Studies and his Department's 334 Conversion Committee. Twice voted by students as one of the Top Ten Best Lecturers, he is also a four-time recipient of the School of Engineering's Teaching Awards.

In teaching he favors a contextual approach. "I do not believe that technical subjects exist in a vacuum. To be properly understood, appreciated and remembered, they need to be placed within their proper sociopolitical context." Prof Golin often peppers his class with anecdotes to provide this context. Students find this approach intriguing. As related by one of his students, Prof Golin "always explains difficult concepts with interesting stories."

Apart from his contextual approach to pedagogy, Prof Golin impresses his students and colleagues with his unparalleled devotion to teaching and program development. His obsession with giving his students the best he can is almost contagious. During his career at HKUST he has created many new courses and developed both new Postgraduate and Undergraduate programs.

His current task is the development of the new Bachelor in Computer Science program which, for the first time, allows Computer Science students from the School of Engineering to also take a second concurrent major in a science subject, notably Mathematics or Physics. Due to the differing nature of the majors involved, Prof Golin has to work individually with students to develop personalized programs that match their own specific backgrounds, constraints and goals for the future.

Despite the work involved, Prof Golin finds the experience gratifying. "It is fascinating to build programs that work properly," remarked Prof Golin, "There's no greater pleasure than to see my students grow and develop intellectually and a well-designed program gives them that opportunity".

After all his time as an academic, Prof Golin remains passionate about his role as a teacher and convinced about the essence of education - that is the task of helping students "learn, understand and grow."