Michelle Prytula, dean of the College of Education (L), with Dr. Rick Schwier, interim associate dean of the new school, and long-time donors and supporters, Jane and Ron Graham (R) at the announcement event on campus.

Coming full circle: alumna’s own teaching career inspires landmark gift to her alma mater

Transforming teaching and learning is at the heart of a historic $1-million gift to the College of Education, thanks to the university’s largest donors, Jane and Ron Graham.

By Meagan Hinther

On October 4, 2019, the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) announced the largest gift in its 92-year history from donors Jane (BEd’62) and Ron (BE’62, DCL’13) Graham to establish a school for the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Through the $1-million donation, the new school will engage in the rigorous study, development and application of novel teaching and learning approaches that lead to innovative teaching practices and measurable gains in student learning.

“We are incredibly thankful to Jane and Ron Graham for their vision and deep commitment to supporting the practice of teaching and learning as serious intellectual work,” said Michelle Prytula, dean of the College of Education. “Their passion and dedication to the University of Saskatchewan is helping us improve teaching and learning here on campus and beyond in such a prioritized and intensive way.”

The proposed Jane and Ron Graham School for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning will be the first centre with programming of its type established within a college or faculty of education in Canada.

Through new program development and the prioritization of teaching and learning research, the school will bring together academics across a wide variety of disciplines to examine their classroom practice in order to understand teaching and learning successes as well as failures. This scholarship has the overarching goal of making new research understandings public, and therefore creating new innovations to improve student learning. At the school, teaching is the research.  

Jane Graham received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan in 1962 and went on to teach in Moose Jaw while raising a family with her husband Ron and building the Graham Construction family business into an international employee-owned corporation.

“As a new teacher, I could have used a place like this to help me bridge the gap between what I had learned at university and my career as a teacher,” said Jane Graham. “Ron and I wanted to support this program in order to ensure that today’s teachers have access to new research findings and continue to grow in their profession.”

The Grahams are the largest cumulative alumni donors in USask history, having given over $24 million to the university and its students through various initiatives and awards. Other notable projects the Grahams have contributed towards include the development of the Ron and Jane Graham Sport Science and Health Centre and the establishment of the Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development in the College of Engineering.

To learn more about the new Jane and Ron Graham School for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, please watch this video.