Canadian philanthropists give $40m (£25.5m) to transform learning at University of Calgary
A philanthropic Canadian couple made the largest single gift in University of Calgary history on 12th April to create a new institute to enable the university to take the lead in educational innovation.
Don and Ruth Taylor have donated $40m (£25.5m) to create the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Through this new institute, the University of Calgary aims to 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, said its President Elizabeth Cannon.
Entrepreneur Don Taylor said: “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.”
Alison Redford, premier of Alberta, in which Calgary is the largest city, said: “This institute is unique among Canadian universities and will serve as a new benchmark for curriculum development and teaching methodologies.”
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,” said Kenya-Jade Pinto, vice president academic, Students’ Union. “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.”
The institute is set to open to students and faculty in early 2016, in time for the University of Calgary to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
A new two-storey, 4,000-square-metre building for the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning will be built 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.
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.