A proposal for a new, more inclusive Council of 3M Fellows

Posted:

I am writing on behalf of the Executive of the 3M Council to bring you into a discussion that began recently about the idea of regrouping within a new constituency that might be called the Council of 3M Fellows. This discussion has arisen in the context of plans for expanded eligibility criteria for the 3M National Teaching Fellowship that would include colleagues from the college sector starting in 2017. This development would offer an opportunity to bring together the following groups as one amalgamated Council: the 3M National Teaching Fellows (open for all post-secondary teachers in 2017), the 3M National Student Fellows, and the College Sector Educator Award winners (2012-2016). The Executive is writing to invite your comments on the idea of a new Council of 3M Fellows by using the online discussion forum described at the end of this message.

Background 
The 3M Teaching Fellowships program was launched in 1985. The first Fellows were named by STLHE in 1986, and there are now 298 Fellows. In 2001, 3M Fellows created the Council of 3M National Teaching Fellows and included all recipients of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship as members of the Council. The Council has aimed to harness the collective passion and expertise in leadership and innovative teaching, and to raise the profile of these activities among the Fellows, within the Society, and across Canada. Some examples of the Council’s efforts include the publications of Making a Difference, Teaching Large Classes, Silences in Teaching, and the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the award in Toronto.

In 2011 the Council created a 3M-sponsored award for students, recognizing the first cohort of 3M National Student Fellows at the 2012 annual conference of STLHE in Montreal. This was done in the form of a student plenary session which now has become a main event of the annual conference – the 3M National Student Fellows plenary session.

STLHE recognized excellence in innovative teaching and leadership by our colleagues in the College sector by creating the College Sector Educators’ Award, and its first recipients were named in 2012. While this college-sector award was created as distinct from the university-level 3M National Teaching Fellowship, questions have been raised about having separate awards when both essentially recognize the same achievements of educational leadership and excellence and innovation in teaching in post-secondary education. After a year of consultation and conversation with 3M Canada, the STLHE was pleased to receive guidance from 3M Canada that college teachers also be eligible for nomination to the 3M National Teaching Fellowship program. On that basis, a change is on the horizon that will have the current College Sector Award come to an end in the same year that the 3M National Teaching Fellowship program opens up for all post-secondary teachers.

The 3M Council Executive believes the broadened scope of 3M-sponsored education awards merits our reconsideration of the Council’s traditional role of representing 3M National Teaching Fellows. We are consulting you on the idea of creating a new Council of 3M Fellows. Membership, as stated in the summary above would include: all 3M National Teaching Fellows, 3M National Student Fellows, and the 2012-2016 College Sector Award recipients. In consultations with the College and Student Advocacy Chairs, we are all firm in our intent to come together as new constituency as opposed to any one group joining another. As one Council member summarized:

Three close neighbours on adjacent properties, living in separate
                homes, would come together to construct a new
                building on their previous foundations.

Here is a summary of some of the specific merits that the Executive has identified for creating the new Council, as described:

  • Grandfathering in the College Sector Award winners provides them with the opportunity to provide leadership and to engage in projects and initiatives in advancing higher education from within the framework of the new Council. College sector award winners will find a greater sense of fellowship in this new larger group.
  • Bringing these three groups together may allow members of groups to participate in a larger, more inclusive group than would be available if the three groups remain separated from each other.
  • Removing the term “teaching” also opens up the new Council to have multiple aims and objectives relating to the broader concepts or issues in post-secondary education.
  • The inclusion of the students parallels the involvement of the two awards co-ordinators in the Council and will provide a “home” for the students if they continue with an interest in educational leadership. The students will also bring their fresh enthusiasm and passion to the new Council’s work.

The 3M Executive Council would like to hear from you on this matter and we have set up a online discussion forum where you can let us know if we are heading in the right, or wrong direction. You can find the discussion forum at the following URL:http://stlhesapes.wildapricot.org/New-3M-Council-Proposal. Based on the discussion we hear on the online forum, or alternatively by emailing me directly, we can determine our next steps: to drop the idea or move forward. That’s why we need to hear from you whether you are for or against the proposal, or maybe it should be modified. If there is adequate support we will take the proposal to the STLHE Board along with a set of proposed by-laws that will be approved at our AGM meeting in London this June.

Sincerely,               

Esther E. Enns
Chair, Council of 3M National Teaching Fellows