Alumni Awards

    Meet 41 alumni who have improved your world: from the roads you drive down every day to the slums of New Delhi

    By Rick Pilger on August 8, 2014

    Ralph Haas

    The Prince of Pavement

    He has played a pioneering role in shaping the roads we drive on — and some of the engineers who make them

    Ralph Haas, ’61 BSc(CivEng), ’63 MSc, knows roads. Really knows roads. He is referred to as the “father of pavement management” for his pioneering work in developing innovative ideas and technologies for managing paved roadways. He has literally written the book on the subject. Several books, in fact. The first two, published in the 1970s, have been translated into French, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish and other languages. These, and others published since, are used by consultants and transportation managers at all levels of government, as well as in university classrooms around the world.

    A native of Alberta’s Peace River area, Haas worked for eight years on road construction before attending the University of Alberta to study engineering. During summer breaks, he would head back to the road crew to finance his education. Since 1966, he has taught at the University of Waterloo, twice serving as chair of civil engineering. He has authored 12 textbooks and 400 technical publications, supervised more than 50 master’s and PhD students, and lectured and consulted around the world. He was a founding partner of the spinoff company Pavement Management Systems Ltd., later absorbed into the Stantec Group of Edmonton.

    In 2002, he led a group that secured $9 million in funding to create the Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology at the University of Waterloo, becoming its first director.

    He is supposed to be retired now — Waterloo named him a distinguished professor emeritus in 1996 — but Haas remains busy with professional activities, research contracts, consulting work and graduate students. When he’s not sharing his expertise, he’s likely to be found out on a road somewhere — but not for work. He’s a passionate long-distance runner who makes time to run almost every day.

    Looking back at the career that has earned him a multitude of honours — from the Order of Canada to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada to the inaugural Distinguished Service Award of the Transportation Association of Canada — Haas says there has been a single underlying theme to his work.

    “I think I was able to effectively bring systems engineering techniques to the management of networks of paved roads,” he says. “When you pave roads you add a lot of asset value, and when you have an important asset of that magnitude, it’s important you make the right decisions in managing it.” It all comes down to determining “the best thing to do at the best time” to maximize value for money spent. Haas has brought innovative technologies to bear on pavement management: innovations such as high-speed surveillance vehicles for acquiring road performance data, advanced modelling techniques for predicting road deterioration and decision-support systems.

    Although his work will long influence road building and maintenance worldwide, Haas finds his greatest impact elsewhere. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” he says, noting proudly the success of his many graduate students. “If you have any legacy, it’s because of the students you’ve had who have moved on to do very well and have great careers.”


    Kevin Jenkins

    A Man Who Puts Hope on the Horizon

    He left a career as a corporate executive to lead one of the world’s largest relief organizations

    When Kevin Jenkins, ’80 LLB, spoke to University of Alberta law students in 2006, he offered some career advice. Jenkins — who had taken his law degree into the business world, shaping the face of Canadian Airlines and, later, Westaim Corp. as their top executive — advised students to evaluate a company’s culture to plot their strategic career moves.

    Not long after, Jenkins followed his own advice. He took a sharp turn in his career path to join an organization with a culture that reflected his own values. In 2009, committed to his Christian faith and wanting to make a difference in the world, he took over leadership of one of the world’s largest relief and development organizations, World Vision International. He hasn’t regretted the decision.

    “I have a great sense of calling, of being in the right place,” Jenkins says. “I had a strong sense when I left the business world of being called to something more purposeful.”

    His leadership was just what World Vision needed, says Denis St-Amour, global chair of World Vision International at the time Jenkins was recruited as president and CEO. St-Amour credits Jenkins with transforming the organization from “running to catch up with itself” to serving as an example to other NGOs striving to deal with complex global issues.

    Working from the United Kingdom near London, Jenkins leads a staff of 45,000 and administers an annual budget of almost $3 billion, providing assistance to 120 million children and their families in nearly 100 countries. As a family man with three adult children and a marriage of 30-plus years, he is proud of World Vision’s impact on families. Ensuring that the donations entrusted to his organization are used effectively to assist them is a huge responsibility, he says. Since taking the reins, he has emphasized the importance of solid evidence to show that donations are being put to good use. “I’m pushing to have more third-party evidence of our effectiveness,” he says.

    The job takes him from some of the highest halls of power — meeting with United Nations, World Bank and government representatives around the globe — to some of the world’s poorest communities. He recalls during one of these trips meeting a 14-year-old girl who had grown up in a New Delhi slum. “She was a third-generation beggar,” he says. The girl described the hopes she had waking up every day: that no man would hurt her and that she would get at least one meal that day. With the help of World Vision, she began attending school and started to contemplate a career.

    “It struck me,” says Jenkins, “that we had changed a child’s hope horizon — she had gone from looking one day ahead to talking about a vocation in a few years’ time.” For him, it crystallized what World Vision is all about. And it brought home that he had, indeed, made the right career move.


    Eileen Mercier

    The 140-Billion-Dollar Woman

    One of the first female professional corporate directors in Canada, Eileen Mercier went on to steward the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan

    How does one go from being a master’s student studying Old Norse to one of Canada’s pre-eminent corporate directors? In the case of Eileen Mercier, ’69 MA, outgoing chair of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and one of Canada’s most influential women (among the top 25, according to one rating), what connects the dots is her active and lively curiosity.

    As a student, Mercier was interested in how languages develop. She attended the University of Alberta to study Old English and Old Norse. After graduating, she decided to take a year-long break before continuing on to her PhD. But she had to support herself so, scrambling to find something to pay the bills after a lecturing position fell through, she took a communications job with the Toronto Stock Exchange. That’s when her curiosity began propelling her along a different career path. Soon, to better understand what she was writing about, she enrolled in a securities course. “I found I liked it,” she says, “which was a huge surprise!”

    Her new-found interest led her to a group doing organizational development work for the Toronto-Dominion Bank. Another step took her to TD Capital Group, where she not only got a taste of investment banking but also obtained a solid grounding in corporate governance. “I was an observer on the board or an actual board member of a number of companies in which the bank had investments, and I learned from some very accomplished board members,” she says.

    Having completed an MBA, Mercier moved on from banking to management positions in other industries, holding senior posts at Canwest Capital Corp., Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. and Abitibi-Price Inc., where she was senior vice-president and CFO. “All the time doing other jobs, I had one or more boards on the side,” says Mercier, who established her own management-consulting firm in 1997. Half a dozen years later, finding herself more in demand as a board member than a consultant, she decided to become a professional corporate director — one of the first women in Canada to build a career in corporate governance.

    Mercier has served on the boards of 28 organizations, from small companies to global conglomerates. She has also volunteered as chair of the governing board at Wilfrid Laurier University and vice-chair of York University’s board of governors and currently sits on the board of Toronto’s University Health Network. She holds honorary doctorates from York University and Wilfrid Laurier University and fellowships in the Institute of Corporate Directors of Canada and the Institute of Canadian Bankers.

    Mercier’s term as chair of the board of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan — which has more than $140 billion in net assets — has covered some turbulent times. She led the board in its oversight of investments during the 2008 market crisis, helped the plan’s sponsors resolve successive funding shortfalls and implemented a succession plan to replace the inaugural CEO. Is she planning to slow down now that her term in that demanding position is coming to an end? Not entirely, she says.

    “I love to do things. I love to learn things.”


    Dan Hays

    From Pastures to Politics

    He has received France’s Legion of Honour and a rare accolade from the emperor of Japan, but you might know him best as former Speaker of the Senate

    On rolling pastures framed by a breathtaking view of the Canadian Rockies, Dan Hays, ’62 BA, maintains a small breeding herd of beef cattle — some 120 Hays Converters, the hardy and efficient breed developed by his father, the late Harry Hays.

    “I’ve been interested in agriculture all my life,” says Hays. “It has been a constant through the years.” Although he sold his ranch some years ago, this former Speaker of the Senate couldn’t make a complete break with raising cattle — thus the herd he retains near Pekisko, Alta.

    His agricultural background is only one of the roots that anchor Hays to Alberta. He was born in Calgary, grew up on a farm on the outskirts of the city and has been associated with the same Calgary law firm for almost 50 years. An honorary chair of the Calgary Stampede Foundation, he continues to host the Hays Breakfast during the Stampede, a tradition that dates back to 1950.

    Although firmly rooted in Alberta, he is also very much a citizen of Canada and the world. Appointed to the Senate of Canada by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in 1984, he played a role in some of the iconic public policy debates in Canada’s modern history — including those over the goods and services tax and the North American Free Trade Agreement — and chaired a special committee on Senate reform. From 2001 until 2006, he was Speaker of the Senate, the first Albertan to hold the position. The Speaker is behind only the governor general, the prime minister and the chief justice in Canadian precedence, the rules that dictate protocol among dignitaries.

    Hays was born in 1939 and his earliest memories are of the war years. Two Japanese families lived on his family farm, having opted to serve as farm workers rather than be interned in a camp. The young Hays quickly developed a close relationship with them. “It was just the norm for me,” he recalls. “They babysat me, I had meals with them … .” He later became aware that the families were not well regarded by many in the community simply because they were Japanese. “It showed me how people can be so wrong, judging on the basis of ethnicity,” he says.

    His experience ignited an interest in Japanese culture. As a senator, Hays pursued a number of initiatives to promote Canada-Japan relations. In 2000, the emperor of Japan conferred on him the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Hays was only the second Canadian to be so honoured.

    His international interests spread well beyond Japan. As Speaker of the Senate, he led 40 Canadian delegations to almost as many nations and welcomed a similar number of delegations to Canada. He worked to further Canada’s involvement in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the French-speaking equivalent of the Commonwealth. In 2011, in recognition of Hays’ efforts to build bridges of understanding between France and Canada, this proud Albertan and global citizen was made an officer of France’s Legion of Honour.


    Alumni Honour Award

    Recognizing the significant contributions made over a number of years by University of Alberta alumni in their local communities and beyond.

     

    Karima Bapoo-Mohamed

    Karima Bapoo-Mohamed ’86 Dip(DentHyg), ’11 MBA

    This dental hygienist contributes to her profession locally and internationally as a clinician, instructor, businesswoman and humanitarian.


    W. Alan Bell

    W. Alan Bell ’53 BA, ’55 BEd, ’67 MEd

    A beloved educator, he has dedicated his personal and professional life to helping others through education, health, music and community programs.


    Duncan Campbell

    Duncan Campbell ’82 BA(RecAdmin)

    “The Quadfather” has spent nearly 40 years transforming wheelchair rugby into a Paralympic sport, helping people with disabilities live active lives.


    Murray Campbell

    Murray Campbell ’79 BSc(Hons), ’81 MSc

    An international leader in artificial intelligence research, he is one of the creators of Deep Blue, the computer program that defeated a world chess champion.


    George Cuff

    George Cuff ’74 BA(RecAdmin)

    An expert in the art of governance, he has offered his knowledge to numerous small and large public sector organizations across Canada.


    David L. Emerson

    David L. Emerson ’68 BA, ’70 MA

    A leader in politics and business and a voice for Western Canada in federal politics, he brought together public and private sectors to benefit all Canadians.


    Curtis Gillespie

    Curtis Gillespie ’85 BA(Spec)

    An award-winning writer and the editor of Eighteen Bridges magazine, he is a strong supporter of his local literary and arts communities.


    Dorothy J. Harris

    Dorothy J. Harris ’46 BA

    A star in the field of dance throughout Alberta — and all of Canada — she created the Orchesis dance group at the University of Alberta.


    Kenneth Kasha

    Kenneth Kasha ’57 BSc(Ag), ’58 MSc

    A highly regarded plant geneticist, he revolutionized how plant breeders throughout the world develop new and improved cultivars in cereal crops.


    Thomas Alexander McPherson

    Thomas Alexander McPherson ’62 MD

    A mentor and builder of academic health care, he’s a leader in medical associations, a medical policy-maker and a pioneer in the biotechnology industry.


    Fawzy Helmy Morcos

    Fawzy Helmy Morcos ’85 MEd

    A nationally regarded physician who specializes in compassionate care, he is regarded as a visionary in issues dealing with women’s health.


    Norman F. W. Picard

    Norman F.W. Picard ’74 BA, ’75 LLB

    An exceptional lawyer, active in the community, he is committed to mentoring young law professionals and supporting students of all ages.


    Robert Ritter

    Robert Ritter ’71 BSc, ’73 Dip(Ed), ’85 MEd, ’96 PhD

    An outstanding teacher, principal and senior administrator, his publications and initiatives have contributed greatly to science education in Alberta.


    G. R. (Gus) Rozycki

    G.R. (Gus) Rozycki ’81 PhD

    A teacher, coach, education leader and advocate for children needing specialized mental health care, he established Alberta Bosco Homes treatment centres.


    Lori Shortreed

    Lori Shortreed ’85 BA(Spec)

    A strong and passionate advocate and volunteer, she supports immigrant, disability and international development causes.


    B. A. R. (Quincy) Smith

    B.A.R. (Quincy) Smith ’66 LLB

    An accomplished lawyer, mentor and volunteer, he has also been dedicated to helping build the tourism industry in the province of Alberta.


    Sock Miang Teo-Koh

    Sock Miang Teo-Koh ’83 BPE, ’86 MSc

    A lifelong advocate for people with physical and mental disabilities, she was active in Special Olympics Singapore and is currently its president.


    Olive Yonge

    Olive Yonge ’74 BScN, ’78 MEd, ’89 PhD

    A nurse, educator, university administrator and registered psychologist, her legacy includes the Centre for Teaching and Learning and Festival of Teaching.


     

    Alumni Award of Excellence

    Celebrating specific outstanding accomplishments by alumni in the past 12 months that garner national and/or international attention

     

    Kieran T. Block

    Kieran T. Block ’10 BEd

    An educator who has played sledge hockey for Team Canada, he turned a life-changing accident into a chance to mentor students and athletes.


    Shannon O

    Shannon O’Byrne ’84 MA, ’85 LLB, ’91 LLM

    An award-winning teacher and legal author who has contributed to the practice of law, policy and education, she is also known for her commitment to her students.


    Alana Savage (Marjanovich)

    Alana Savage (Marjanovich) ’97 BA

    This police officer distinguished herself as an agent of change by establishing the Domestic Violence Reduction Strategy with the Edmonton Police Service.


     

    Alumni Horizon Award

    Celebrating the outstanding achievements of University of Alberta alumni early in their careers

     

    Danisha Bhaloo

    Danisha Bhaloo ’07 BA(Criminology)

    Inspired by her own upbringing and empowered by education, she became an advocate and a role model for youth at risk.


    Kathryn Dong

    Kathryn Dong ’07 MSc

    A dedicated physician, she works to close the gaps and improve the experiences of socially vulnerable people in the emergency rooms of their local hospitals.


    Megan Engel

    Megan Engel ’12 BSc(Hons), ’13 MSc

    A Rhodes Scholar and researcher in an emerging field of nanoscience, she is applying design principles in nature to uncover future sources of energy.


    Govind V. Kaigala

    Govind V. Kaigala ’05 MEng, ’09 PhD

    An IBM-Zurich researcher, he combines his expertise in engineering and medicine to develop innovative solutions to problems in clinical diagnostics.


    Diane M. Orihel

    Diane M. Orihel ’13 PhD

    An outspoken defender of science funding and evidence-based government policy, her work helped save the Experimental Lakes Area research site.


    Adam Rozenhart

    Adam Rozenhart ’04 BA

    A storyteller and local social media leader, he builds community through conversation and by sharing his passion for all things Edmonton.


    Lesley-Anne Scorgie

    Lesley-Anne Scorgie ’05 BCom

    An entrepreneur, author and financial expert, she encourages financial literacy and teaches that giving back is as important as earning money.


    Amy Shostak

    Amy Shostak ’07 BA

    A community connector and director of Rapid Fire Theatre, she has encouraged Edmontonians to “make something” with events, startups and festivals.


     

    Alumni Centenary Award

    Celebrating alumni who have made an uncommon gift of time, self and energy to the University of Alberta

     

    Jim Hole

    Jim Hole ’79 BSc(Ag)

    A volunteer, advocate and community leader, he gives back to his alma mater by supporting University of Alberta students and the Alumni Association.


    Sharon Morsink

    Sharon Morsink ’97 PhD

    Using the stars as a portal to education, this theoretical astrophysicist engages students and the public through a passion for astronomy.


     

    The Honourable Dr. Lois E. Hole Student Spirit Award

    Recognizing undergraduate students who demonstrate a spirit of caring and community service

     

    Jeeshan Chowdhury

    Jeeshan Chowdhury ’05 BMedSc, ’14 MD

    This Rhodes Scholar founded Hacking Health, which taps the fields of medicine and technology to find realistic solutions to international health issues.


    Andrew Tang

    Andrew Tang ’13 BMedSc, ’14 MD

    He was a leader in efforts at the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry to develop a curriculum that increases interdisciplinary co-operation and teamwork.


     

    Sports Wall of Fame

    Recognizing the contributions of alumni as athletes and builders of university sport

     

    Gerry F. Inglis

    Gerry F. Inglis ’79 BEd

    A former Golden Bears football star who played for three CFL teams, he continues to give back to the U of A, sport and the community.


    Chuck Moser

    Chuck Moser ’64 BPE, ’72 MA

    A tireless supporter of recreation in Alberta and U of A athletics, his legacy lives on in his best-known creation: GUBA, the Golden Bears mascot.


    Don Munro

    Don Munro ’59 BPE, ’62 BEd, ’66 Dip(Ed)

    A standout in both basketball and football while at the U of A, he went on to share his love of sport as a teacher, coach and referee.


    Helen Wright

    Helen Wright ’94 BA

    This founder and first head coach of the Pandas rugby team is also a pioneer in the sport at the national and international levels.