The University of Calgary is getting a $40-million donation to establish an institute for learning and teaching from a well-known Calgary family.

The gift will establish the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, which will focus on educational innovation and research into the most effective methods for engaging students.

The project is part of the university's strategy to become one of the top five research institutions in Canada by 2016, officials said.

"[This] is a one-of-a-kind initiative that will completely transform the University of Calgary, ensuring the best possible learning experience for all students and teachers," says the school's president Elizabeth Cannon.

The money comes from Don and Ruth Taylor, who have previously established the Tayor Family Digital Library and the Katthy Taylor Chair in Vascular Dementia at the university.

The donation is the single largest in the university's history, officials said.

Don Taylor is a Calgary entrepreneur and his wife Ruth sits on the Alberta Mental Health Board.

"We have always been in favour of enhancing teaching skills at the university level and have come to understand that the learning process is an integral part," he said. "We find the teaching and learning initiative to be an exciting challenge."

In addition to promoting educational research, the new institute will provide students with hands-on learning opportunities, the university said in a release.

It will bring together students from a variety of faculties to collaborate on social issues and promote research, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

"This institute is unique among Canadian universities and will serve as a new benchmark for curriculum development and teaching methodologies," says Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

"We all want to make sure Alberta has the most innovative and world-leading educators who can inspire all our students to reach higher."