Change and continuity in a teaching and learning centre over 50 years

The MacPherson Institute from 1972-2022 at McMaster University


  • Alise de Bie McMaster University
  • Emily Ing
  • Dale Roy
  • Lori Goff



McMaster University’s teaching and learning centre, known today as the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching, opened its doors in 1972 and marks its 50th anniversary in 2022. Based primarily on a review of textual records and guidance from two institute directors, this chapter elaborates transformations of the unit over this time. We emphasize four themes throughout our writing: (1) different strategies enacted to create culture change in how teaching is valued; (2) how various factors combined to bring about new initiatives - many still in place today - for enhancing teaching and learning; (3) how a core institute value of collaboration has been expressed over time; and (4) major changes and continuities over the institute’s history, especially how a pendulum between micro/macro, local/global, reactive/proactive, individual/institutional, service/research, invisibility/reputation expansion have swung across the decades. We reflect on why it might be important to know our history, particularly the problematic capitalist and settler colonial interests that initially funded the institute, and what this history teaches us. We end by amplifying the importance of vision, focus, and acting on areas of historical neglect as the institute plans for the future. 

This chapter is undergoing copyediting and will be published shortly.





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