Past Presidents

Read the personal reflections or biographies of each of the Society’s past presidents.

  • Christopher Knapper

    University of Waterloo
    1981 to 1988

    “It was in 1981 that a group of us (Mei-Fei Elrick and Don McIntosh from Guelph, Alan Blizzard and Dale Roy from McMaster, Harry Murray and Colin Baird from Western, Ron Sheese from Toronto, and myself) decided to launch STLHE. We had no financial assets, no idea of the potential interest, and only a vaguely formulated set of goals and activities. What we did have was a tradition of annual conferences in Ontario devoted to teaching and learning in higher Education. The latter were excellent social and professional occasions, but were attended primarily by instructional developers, and we felt a real need to involve “rank-and-file” faculty—the university and college teachers who spend a large amount of their working lives in the classroom. Our hope was that the creation of a societylike STLHE would provide a focus for those professors who regard teaching as their major commitment, who are anxious to explore ways to enhance teaching and learning and wish to share their own ideas with colleagues.

    – Christopher Knapper, May 1987

  • Alan Blizzard

    McMaster University
    1988 to 1995

    The Society saw considerable changes during Alan’s presidency, many of which he initiated. These included a considerable increase in membership, establishment of the STLHE listserv, the “new initiatives” program for funding small instructional development projects, the institution of “travelling workshops” in different parts of the country, the encouragement of annual conferences outside Ontario, and the gradual democratization of the Society’s procedures. Alan participated enthusiastically in running the Society, hosting one of the conferences, and publishing the newsletter. Until recently, we were unable to afford any assistance with these tasks, and the President bore the main brunt of the work with help from whatever colleagues he could cajole into volunteering.

    Principal among these was Dale Roy, who served as the Society’s Treasurer, unofficial secretary, and general booster throughout Alan’s tenure. Dale also helped plan and run what is perhaps STLHE’s most successful achievement, the 3M Teaching Fellowships Program.

    – Alan Blizzard, June 1995

  • Pat Rogers

    York University
    1995 to 2000

    When Alan Blizzard left office, he had already begun the process of expanding the Steering Committee to include representation from all regions across the country. Another step in this inclusion process was taken two years ago when the annual general meeting ratified our first Constitution—one we carefully wrote to reflect current practice while providing enough flexibility to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. This year we tested a new procedure for electing regional representatives to the Steering Committee, a procedure we hope will make appointment to this body more transparent. As a means for encouraging and supporting local initiatives, and increasing participation from across the country, we also began to hold the annual winter meetings of instructional development officers in different locations each year.

  • Gary Poole

    University of British Columbia
    2000 to 2004

    One of the often-heard buzz phrases when I became President was “national voice,” as in “we must make STLHE a national voice for teaching and learning in higher education.” Thus, we embarked on a Strategic Planning exercise which has taken over two years of work. Over this time, have we become that “national voice” people were talking about? Not yet. However, we are now poised to take this on. We have four strategic goals that define the Society, and we have new structures in place that clearly define the working relationships with such groups as the 3M Teaching Fellows and the Educational Developers Caucus. Representatives from these groups now sit on our Steering Committee, and each is engaged in a range of activitieswith great potential.

  • Julia Christensen Hughes

    University of Guelph
    2004 to 2007

    It was truly an honor to serve as President of STLHE and to have had the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of people; members of the Society and colleagues around the world who care deeply about teaching and learning in higher education. Through the efforts of many, and in keeping with our strategic directions, much was accomplished between 2004 and 2007:

  • Joy Mighty

    Queen's University
    2007 to 2010

    I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve not only the hundreds of STLHE members, but also the thousands of students all across Canada who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the work that we do in the STLHE. When I was elected President I made a commitment to the STLHE vision of enhancing the effectiveness of teaching and learning in Canada’s institutions of higher education. I believe that during my term we made enormous progress towards the achievement of the strategic goals that stem from this vision.

  • Arshad Ahmad

    McMaster University
    2010 to 2014

    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.

  • Robert Lapp

    Mount Allison University
    2014 to 2017

    To have served STLHE as its President—and before that on its Board of Directors—has been both an honour and a pleasantly unexpected opportunity. Ten years ago I would never have thought it possible that I could take on such a set of volunteer responsibilities. But I discovered (as have many before me) that the STLHE is an organization with an uncanny capacity to nourish personal growth within its rich and unmatched interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, inter-provincial, and cross-sector collaborations. I encourage anyone who is curious about their own untapped capacity for fostering meaningful growth within a consequential organization to consider taking up a leadership position within the “safe space” offered by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education!