In April 2013 the University of Calgary received a $40 million gift -- the largest donation it had received to that date – from Don and Ruth Taylor in order to establish the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning on the campus. The first of its kind in Canada, the teaching and learning institute is intended to inspire teaching excellence across campus, and will help to propel the University of Calgary towards its goal of becoming one of the country’s top five research universities. President Cannon noted that the Institute would have a tremendous impact on teaching and learning across North America. “It’s a game changer because you look at how teaching is evolving, you see these massive open online courses, you see technology in a classroom, we’re seeing how students learn differently – they’re in the community, they’re working in interdisciplinary teams. We have to keep pace, we have to do research, see what works and what doesn’t and use that to stay on the leading edge.”
Don Taylor -- the same philanthropist whose earlier $25 million gift to the University of Calgary led to the creation of the Taylor Family Digital Library – was prompted to donate the money to create the Institute in part because of his experience as a sessional instructor while an engineering student. “When Elizabeth (Cannon) approached me with the idea of a teaching and learning centre, memories of my agony (and) the students not appreciating my efforts came flooding back. (The Institute) struck me as being the vanguard of a new way of education at the university level – and a new way to teach students” he said. Ruth Taylor, a former teacher, school counsellor and vice-principal, has a keen awareness of how important it is to provide students with learning opportunities that inspire them. She and her husband share a passion for life-long learning and have come to appreciate that understanding the learning process is an integral part of enhancing teaching skills at the university level.
The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning was officially opened on 18 April 2016, during the university’s 50th anniversary year. “The possibilities are endless when it comes to transformative education practices”, said President Cannon to the 200 invited community partners, philanthropists, students, faculty and staff. “With a wealth of new hands-on-learning experiences available to students both on and off campus, the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning will shine a light on teaching excellence, and serve as a touchstone for improvements across the country and around the world.”