If you read the reflections of STLHE past presidents, you’ll be struck, as I was, by the constant progress of our organization. Over more than 35 years, we have learned and evolved relentlessly. During my time as STLHE president, I hope that we built on that tradition.
We started strategically, with revisions to the Society’s mission, goals and values and we launched our charitable arm, Teaching and Learning Canada. We also made significant changes to increase communication. These included a renewed commitment to bilingualism that involved adding a chair of bilingual advocacy to our Board of Directors, publishing fully bilingual newsletters and annual reports and a complete redesign of the STLHE website.
Our work at the board level wasn’t limited to a single position, however. We converted our board from a regional representation model to a portfolio-based and expertise-driven approach that saw us decentralize our budget structure and add a new vice-president to our leadership mix, along with a student member-at-large to reflect our broad commitment to meaningful student engagement in the work of the Society.
We expanded the reach, influence and impact of the Society by establishing partnerships with like-minded organizations that connect STLHE to the international community of teachers and learners. We have now developed productive and mutually beneficial relationships with Academics Without Borders, the Central and East European Management Development Association, and Higher Education Teaching and Learning.
Closer to home, STLHE founded a regional grants program to support grassroots teaching and learning initiatives across Canada and we enhanced our service to our members by creating a Membership Centre to administer of our membership program and ensure that the Society has more accurate and organized membership data.
Finally, we expanded the STLHE awards program. Having coordinated the 3M National Teaching Fellowships for 10 years it was heartening to see the awards portfolio grow as significantly as it did. We unveiled the College Sector Educators Award and the Brightspace (originally D2L) Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning, along with the TAGSA Award for best conference session led by a graduate student and the 3M National Student Fellowship which builds on the name and reputation of our most successful award. We also presented, for the first time, the Christopher Knapper Outstanding Volunteer Award which is, I think, the perfect place for me to conclude these reflections because STLHE is only as strong as its volunteers.
It has been an honor to serve with my fellow volunteers as we continue to advance the cause of teaching and learning. While it was an incredible privilege to learn from my talented colleagues on the Board, the EDC Caucus and the 3M Council, the secret sauce of the Society is and always will be the STLHE member. Collectively, what our members offer during annual conferences in February and June is what marks the ultimate pilgrimage of sharing, renewal and development of Canada’s educators. I look forward to continuing to work with you as I move on to new roles to serve the Society for teaching and learning in higher education.