University of Calgary

$40-million donation fuels learning excellence

UToday HomeApril 12, 2013

The University of Calgary’s new $40-million Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.The University of Calgary’s new $40-million Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Photo courtesy of Gibbs Gage/Diamond Schmitt ArchitectsStudent learning at the University of Calgary will be transformed thanks to a $40-million gift from the Taylor family to establish a home for the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Through this new institute, the university will take the lead in educational innovation by researching the most effective methods for engaging students, by supporting faculty to be the best teachers they can be, and by providing some of the most innovative learning spaces available anywhere in North America, says President Elizabeth Cannon.

“The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is a one-of-a-kind initiative that will completely transform the University of Calgary, ensuring the best possible learning experience for all students and teachers,” says Cannon.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Taylor family, lessons learned at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning will have a significant impact on the learning experience throughout the University of Calgary. Institute discoveries can also be applied to improve teaching and learning practices across Alberta’s K to 12 and post-secondary education systems.”

Creating a place to inspire some of the world’s best teaching and learning is a passion shared by Don and Ruth Taylor, who have donated $40 million to create the institute.

This isn’t the first time the Taylor family has contributed to promoting post-secondary education in Alberta. They remain strong supporters of the University of Calgary and their legacy includes establishing the Taylor Family Digital Library, the Katthy Taylor Chair in Vascular Dementia, and now the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

“We have always been in favour of enhancing teaching skills at the university level, and have come to understand that the learning process is an integral part. We find the teaching and learning initiative to be an exciting challenge,” says Don Taylor.

The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is a cornerstone of the University of Calgary’s Eyes High strategy to become one of the top five research institutions in Canada by 2016, where innovative teaching and groundbreaking research go hand-in-hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. The institute will allow the University of Calgary to better adapt to the anytime and anywhere learning needs of its students. It will shine a light on teaching excellence and serve as a touchstone for educational improvements across the country.

“We all want to make sure Alberta has the most innovative and world-leading educators who can inspire all our students to reach higher. This institute is unique among Canadian universities and will serve as a new benchmark for curriculum development and teaching methodologies,” says Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

In addition to promoting educational research, the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning will also provide students with a wealth of new hands-on learning opportunities. Undergraduate students from a variety of faculties will be brought together to collaborate on social issues, acquiring research, problem solving and critical thinking skills key to their future career success.

“For students, the Institute for Teaching and Learning represents a clear commitment to the quality of education on our campus – something students at University of Calgary consistently identify as integral to a positive university experience,” says Kenya-Jade Pinto, vice-president (academic), Students’ Union. “The institute can provide students from across disciplines and faculties the opportunity to work together in ways they previously might not have. Ultimately the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning has the potential to encourage a greater sense of community on our campus, while bolstering support for a world-class education that students at the University of Calgary can be proud of.”

Gibbs Gage/Diamond Schmitt Architects is creating a new two-storey, 4,000-square-metre building for the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning on the site of the former Nickle Arts Museum. The design is flexible so walls, floors and furniture can adapt to the learning needs of students using the space. The forward-looking building will incorporate leading-edge technology throughout its naturally lit and modern open spaces.

The new Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is set to open to students and faculty in early 2016, in time for the University of Calgary to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Watch for a special edition of UToday on Monday, April 15: more coverage of today’s announcement; background on the donor family; opportunities for teachers and learners.


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