STLHE 2014 Annual Report: From the President’s Desk

Transition and Continuity: Consolidating the Core

Lapp FeatureImage2014 has been a year of many remarkable transitions at STLHE, and these changes have revealed once again how solid is the core of values and commitments within this impressively diverse Society of dedicated individuals and institutions. Improving the depth and quality of student learning in post-secondary education, while advancing the cause of evidence-based teaching practices, remains firmly at the forefront of all our endeavours, and it is my mandate as President to make the continued realization of these values sustainable into the future through transparent, consultative leadership and by expanding our membership base even more deeply in to all sectors of teachers and learners in Higher Education.

Transition is a natural and positive occurrence in complex, volunteer-based societies because it provides a valuable opportunity to consolidate and improve. Fully seven positions on the STLHE Board changed hands this year, including the Presidency, Vice-Presidency, Secretary, and three key portfolios of Awards, Publications, and Partnerships, while our administrative operations bid farewell to Sylvia Avery, who resigned after many years dedicated service. The crucial role of Program Coordinator for two of our major awards—the 3M National Teaching Fellowship and the 3M National Student Fellowship—also changed hands this year, as did the position of Community Relations Manager at 3M Canada, and the editorship of CELT, one of our flagship publications.

Yet all of these changes served to demonstrate the solid core strengths of STLHE. A RFP sent out this fall will soon place our administrative unit on an even more secure footing, while Muriel McKay continues to work her magic with our membership and Elaine Simpson has streamlined our accounting practices. Vice-President Denise Stockley has offered us a completely revised and updated Conference Manual, while Secretary Jon Houseman has spearheaded a thorough revision our By-Laws and Operations Manual. Our communications strategies have also received a facelift in our series of monthly “email blasts” and in the posting of Board minute summaries on our website. All of these efforts are designed to “consolidate the core” and to keep the flow of dedicated effort and transparent communication flowing smoothly and effectively throughout the Society.

And meanwhile the landmark events of the STLHE year continued to inspire and transform. The EDC held another momentous conference in Calgary in a powerful collaboration between the College and University sectors, as Bow Valley College and the University of Calgary teamed up in February to address the huge shift underway in the roles Educational Developers play as institutions evolve in response to Quality Assurance measures. And in June, Queen’s hosted an unforgettable Annual Convention in collaboration with the RMC and St. Lawrence College. Under the rubric of “Transforming our Learning Experiences,” a host of superb presentations– including plenaries by Eric Mazur, John Smol, and the 2014 3M National Student Fellows–along with such events as the chocolate festival Awards Ceremony and the Fort Henry Banquet, reminded us why is it so worth the effort and of coming together face-to-face each year as a society. Where else could we find such open-hearted, interdisciplinary sharing amongst a community of caring teachers and Educational Developers, eager to disseminate their best practices in the name of improving student learning in every sector of post-secondary education in Canada?

At the same time, we continued to reach out to our strategic partners at home and abroad. Arshad Ahmad brought student presenters for the first time to ICED in Stockholm; Denise Stockley represented the Society at ISSoTL in Quebec City, and Deb Dawson carried the flag for us at POD in Texas. Key partnerships were renewed with allies like Academics Without Borders and corporate sponsors like 3M Canada and Magna. Our newly-independent charitable arm, Teaching and Learning Canada, hosted a remarkable Davos-style think-tank at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

And so the transitions we have experienced this year have served to consolidate our core, highlighting our strengths and streamlining our processes. The STLHE is a powerful network of individuals and institutions dedicated to the essential social goods of skillful teaching and deep learning, and together we move forward into 2015 with renewed energy for the on-going tasks of consciousness-raising, advocacy, mentorship, research, and the strategic collaborations that make the work of the STLHE so valuable and transformative.

Robert Lapp
President, STLHE