Celebrating Dr. Maureen Wideman

We are incredibly fortunate to enjoy connections with many talented and generous people throughout the teaching and learning system in B.C. When we learned Dr. Maureen Wideman was making changes to her professional role, we reached out to faculty and staff across the province to share how they’ve been inspired by their time and learnings with this local legend. 

Post by the BCcampus editorial team

While Dr. Maureen Wideman is not officially retiring, she’s winding things down with a sabbatical this summer and stepping away from her role as associate vice president of Teaching and Learning at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). When she returns from her sabbatical, she’ll be pursuing some projects we’re excited to see come to life. 

The following snippets are from a few of the folks in the B.C. post-secondary teaching and learning community whose lives Maureen touched:

Visioning and Responsiveness at its Finest

I shudder to think what would have happened if Maureen had not put the wheels of change into motion as soon as she started as director of the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). In her first few months, she began transitioning the TLC so it was well prepared to shift to online learning the week of March 17, 2020. She’s a visionary (but seeing the need for a complete move to online is a bit uncanny). Thanks to Maureen, we were theoretically already positioned to get the job done well in advance and then she got the resources and freedoms the TLC needed when the call to action came. Need a resource? Voilà, Maureen made it happen. Maureen had laid the anytime/anywhere learning foundation early and continued to steer the TLC in that direction, which made the pivot to online learning successful and helped thousands of students keep moving on their academic journeys. 

Ken Hamel, UFV

Getting Giddy with Maureen Wideman

Maureen and Theresa sit side by side at a round table that holds tea and white truffles.

At the 2018 Festival of Learning, the organizers at BCcampus adopted a theme of caring. The organizing committee and staff worked hard to provide a conference that not only helped post-secondary institutions become more caring but also made the conference a balanced and nurturing experience. It was innovative. One aspect was a tea house — a place anyone could go and sip some ice water (it was summer) or a cup of tea. 

Maureen Wideman loves innovation. It makes her giddy. I remember her presentation at the conference with others at UFV on the Encyclopedia Misconducta. It’s a great program, and it was the evident glee in Maureen that inspired me. Her assembled team was making a difference for students.

As soon as Maureen heard about the tea house needing sponsorship, she called me about co-sponsoring. I was on board because I liked the idea too, but mostly because I like to see Maureen giddy! I even managed to get one of our attending staff to transport, in coolers, 1500 chocolate truffles from Nelson to Vancouver! 

You inspire me, Maureen. I look forward to future collaborations in whatever gets you giddy in your next adventures. Call me anytime. I’m in!

Theresa Southam, Selkirk College

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Maureen has always valued the knowledge, expertise, and effort the employees of the TLC bring to their jobs. She has been a champion for teaching and learning, and we have seen so many changes at UFV.

  • She started the first Accessibility Advisory Committee at UFV.
  • She proposed a new position in the TLC called Teaching Specialist Indigenization; she advocated for it and got it.
  • She started the West Coast Teaching Excellence Awards, and it had its inaugural year in 2021. 

When COVID-19 hit, Maureen worked diligently with TLC employees to get faculty all the help they needed to teach online, and just recently, the TLC won the UFV Team Award of the year for our efforts during and after COVID-19. We are a better team today because of all the effort Maureen put into us.

Ruby Ord, UFV

The West Coast Teaching Excellence Awards

Maureen was the true driver of the West Coast Teaching Excellence Awards, awarded for the first time this year. In addition, without her we wouldn’t have a thriving British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC) or an award to recognize outstanding educators in B.C./Yukon. She is someone who has transformed the profession of teaching and learning in the province, and I look up to her as an example of how to run an effective centre.

Catharine Dishke, Thompson Rivers University

That’s Ridiculous!

When Maureen first came to UFV, one of the first things she did for our department was get us all together for a strategic planning session. I remember she was surprised at some of the things our department was responsible for. Prior to the many improvements to our TLC, we were called Educational Technology Services (ETS). We were a one-stop-shop for everything from large-scale printing to a place to buy scantron cards or whiteboard markers. When we would approach Maureen to tell her about some of the many unconventional things ETS was responsible for, she would say, “That’s ridiculous!” Later, I learned when I heard her exclaim from her office, “That’s ridiculous!” I knew things were about to change for the better. The processes were streamlined, and printing went to the printing department, whiteboard markers went to the bookstore where they belonged, and scantron cards disappeared altogether. The TLC team was then freed up to focus on supporting faculty. Maureen has been an incredible mentor to me. She had a vision for the TLC, and she fought tirelessly to achieve her vision. I know if I see something that does not align with my own vision, I hear Maureen’s voice in my head saying, “That’s ridiculous,” and I start working on a way to make a change for the better.

Michelle Johnson, UFV

A Driving Force for Teaching and Learning in B.C.

I first met Dr. Wideman at a BCTLC meeting. Presenters were giving snapshots of teaching innovations at their institutions. Maureen showed how she had received a sizeable grant and updated many teaching spaces at UFV to be inclusive, open, flexible, and supportive of technological integrations. Her instructors could then engage in active learning, with positive learning outcomes for the students. UFV adopted this pedagogy as an institution standard. Her leadership brought around wholescale evidence-based change by providing better tools and pedagogy support in a short time. Our institution was only dreaming of these possibilities, and Maureen had already implemented best practices and continued to enable the capabilities of her school. When COVID-19 rolled around, UFV was well positioned to transition to online learning demands. 

I was very inspired to bring the same advancements to our institution. I reached out to Maureen to get details of this transformation. She gladly spent time outlining her change-management process and how she and her team encouraged faculty members to uptake this shift in teaching. She referenced many other colleagues who were in different stages of institutional pedagogical review and why BCTLC was key to supporting this provincial change. This small act of sharing her experiences sparked our collegial relationship and my ever-growing respect for her leadership. She is approachable and readily shares knowledge to advance innovation for teaching by motivating others. 

Dr. Wideman agreed to present on academic integrity for my institution. She brought a sophisticated level of understanding as an academic leader and scholar. Her talk sparked many conversations on our campus. Her friendly approach and ability to break down complex issues was an advantageous change agent. This was one of many topics she could have shared from her expansive knowledge. We have developed better policies and procedures since those conversations with her. 

I was encouraged to take a leadership role with BCTLC and did so knowing Maureen was part of the council executive. I knew I could grow as a leader within our field by drawing on her passion for better teaching in the province of B.C. She had a vast network of connections she has cultivated during her career. Not only does she have a role in BCTLC, but also she works with our Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training with working groups. Her leadership and action-orientated philosophy have moved many in this community of practice to be bold. As part of the BCTLC, Maureen addressed a gap in the recognition of quality educators in B.C. She was the driving force behind the new province-level West Coast Teaching Excellence Awards. Maureen just finished leading our inaugural competition, where we recognized five outstanding educators in B.C. and the Yukon.

In summary, I believe Maureen Wideman has built a caring community of educators who value students. She has been dedicated to transformative, innovative, and inclusive pedagogy while ensuring sustainable practices in technology use. She surrounds her practice in the literature of teaching and widely shares that insight and knowledge. Last, she has established the importance of the scholarship of teaching and learning for institutions and governmental leaders as part of the higher-education system in B.C.

 – Dr. Anne Sommerfeld, University of Northern British Columbia

BCcampus Articles Featuring Dr. Maureen Wideman:

The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by Pixabay