Home Ice Campaign has the Wright stuff

A long-time supporter of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and Huskie Athletics has made a major contribution to the fundraising campaign to build a new twin-ice facility on campus.

At today’s Huskie Off the Leash Luncheon, the U of S announced that Wright Construction and the Wright family have contributed a $1-million gift in support of the Home Ice Campaign. The campaign seeks to raise $7-million to complete funding to build Merlis Belsher Place.

Lorne Wright (BComm’81), a U of S commerce graduate and the president of Wright Construction Western Inc., said his business and his family are both proud to help out with the project.

“I’ve always had a fondness for the Huskies—it dates back to my time at university,” said Wright, who has been a strong supporter of scholarship programs for Huskie athletes. “It became apparent that this is a very important facility to our community and to our university and we wanted to make a commitment to it.”

Peter Stoicheff noted that the university is also pleased to partner with Wright Construction to build the new facility. He said the Wright family has been working to improve campus for decades. “Wright Construction and the University of Saskatchewan have a long association going back to when Lorne’s grandfather—Sam Wright—built the first buildings on our campus more than 100 years ago. Since then, Wright Construction has been seen regularly on our campus. We are so pleased that Wright Construction and the Wright family are committed to improving our facilities, for student athletes and our community, with this generous donation.”


President of Wright Construction, Lorne Wright (middle, fifth from left next to hockey legend Lanny McDonald) with supporters of the Off the Leash Luncheon. Wright Construction and the Wright family announced a donation of $1-million to the Home Ice Campaign at the event.

Wright Construction and the Wright family—wife Lynne and siblings Jack, Don and Nancy—have been donating to the university and to Huskie Athletics since 2004.  They have supported the Huskies Off the Leash Luncheon from its beginnings in 2009 as its title sponsor, because it funds scholarships for Huskie hockey players. The Wrights have also established numerous scholarship awards over the years, to support Huskie hockey and basketball athletes.

The donation from Wright Construction and Wright family will provide a significant boost to the campaign to raise funds for the $41-million complex. It will replace the aging Rutherford Rink, which was built in 1929.

“Although it’s been heroic, Rutherford is no longer appropriate for a university of our calibre, as a public facility. It needs to be replaced for the enjoyment of the students and the public as well,” Wright said. He noted his excitement that the university will be reserving a significant number of hours for the use of community hockey programming. “What I thought really took the project up a notch was the plan to build a second rink and bring the community in. The agreement with the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association is so important, as their programs continue to grow.”

Written by James Shewaga

Gift changed everything for animal sciences student


Olivia Carolan has dreamt about becoming a veterinarian since an early age. She was raised on a farm in south-west England, surrounded by animals from her very first steps: cats, dogs, and her first love—horses. “I grew up with horses, just like my mom and her parents did,” she said.

Her interest in animals started early, learning to ride horses and care for their injuries. However, it was a personal and heartbreaking experience that settled her decision to pursue an education in veterinary medicine.

“It was putting my horse down—Denahli—who was only eight years old. He had cancerous lumps on his jaw, which is a melanoma tumor common among grey horses,” she explained. “He was my first horse and the one I had the strongest connection with. It was like losing a part of me…he was my best friend.” She added, “That solidified the thought of becoming a veterinarian because I couldn’t do anything to help him with the pain.”

Olivia set her sights on the University of Saskatchewan. It had everything she desired: a dedicated animal bioscience program and a veterinary medicine college, that together, focus on a range of animals, from farm animals to domestic pets.

David Stobbe / stobbephoto.ca

Olivia Carolan received financial support to enter the College of Agriculture and Bioresources’ Animal Biosciences program when she was awarded the Peter Lewochko Bursary (Photo: David Stobbe / stobbephoto.ca).

Although she knew the U of S was the right place for her, she was unsure it was possible due to financial constraints. She elaborated, “I was thrilled upon my acceptance to the U of S but was burdened by the cost. I knew I would not be able to attend, and decided to go to a local university that was more affordable. But I still felt a nagging sense of disappointment that I could not attend the U of S.”

It was a U of S donor that changed everything for Olivia. She received much-needed financial support to enter the College of Agriculture and Bioresources’ Animal Bioscience program when she was awarded the Peter Lewochko Bursary, funded through a bequest gift.

She has fond memories of the moment her family received the news. Olivia explained, “My mom phoned me as I had received a package from the U of S. She opened it up right away and immediately started crying. She said, ‘Oh Olivia— they have given you a bursary for all of your tuition and books! You can go to the school you really want to go to!’” Olivia said she was thrilled.

Now in the third year of her undergraduate program, Olivia hopes to be accepted in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in the next two years. Her ultimate career goal is to assist pet owners in making health and nutrition decisions and reduce animal suffering.

“Without receiving this award, I would not be where I am today,” revealed Olivia. “It gives me immense joy that I can be here today and set my sights and aspirations even higher.”

If you would like to support students like Olivia through a gift in your Will, please contact:

Bev Cooper

Director of Gift Planning

Phone: (306) 966-2416

E-mail: bev.cooper@usask.ca

Written by Jessica Elfar

Astronomical Gift

The donation of a unique telescope from a family of U of S alumni will open up new worlds for the College of Arts & Science’s Department of Physics & Engineering Physics.

At a reception on Friday Oct. 28, the department celebrated the Tarasoff 24-inch telescope donated by Karen Larson (BSHEc’74) and her family in memory of her husband Harry Tarasoff (BA’68, LLB’71).

The instrument is likely the largest telescope in Saskatchewan, said astronomer Richard Huziak (BusAdm’92).

The family of the telescope's builder Harry Tarasoff, who donated the instrument in his memory. Left to right: Nissa Baran, Gavril Tarasoff (with daughter Kalyna Tarasoff), Elia Tarasoff, Karen Larson.

The family of the telescope’s builder Harry Tarasoff, who donated the instrument in his memory. Left to right: Nissa Baran, Gavril Tarasoff (with daughter Kalyna Tarasoff), Elia Tarasoff, Karen Larson.

The story of the instrument’s creation is just as unique as the telescope itself. Tarasoff, a Saskatoon business owner with a passion for building and inventing, constructed it in his shop with help from his sons Gavril (BSc’04) and Elia (BSc’07) and installed it in his backyard. After Tarasoff passed away in 2008, his family donated the telescope to the Department of Physics & Engineering Physics, where he completed his first degree.

The instrument is much larger and more powerful than any optical telescope currently in the department’s possession, said senior departmental assistant Yannis Pahatouroglou, and has excellent potential for expanding the university’s research and teaching activities in astronomy. Future undergraduate astronomy students will make use of the telescope in their classes.

“We are so happy that Harry Tarasoff’s love of discovery and invention will benefit students for many years to come,” said College of Arts & Science Interim Dean Peta Bonham-Smith at the event.

The telescope is currently being prepared for installation on the roof of the Physics Building in mid-2017.

Written by Chris Putnam

Rychjohns and Van Normans donate $1 million to the Home Ice Campaign

Lawrence (BEd’70, PGD’73) and Patricia Rychjohn (BSc’69, BEd’70) and Ian and Alice Van Norman have a proud history of investing in our community. From shopping centres to real estate, the joint-owners of College Hotels LP have been a driving force in delivering essential services and amenities to the community.

At last week’s ground-breaking ceremony for a new hotel development at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), the Rychjohns and Van Normans made a surprise announcement that they are donating $1 million to the Home Ice Campaign. The campaign is an effort to fund a two-storey, twin-pad ice facility for Huskie men’s and women’s hockey, campus rec leagues, and minor hockey.

“The U of S has entrusted us to do a hotel development on the College Quarter lands,” said Lawrence Rychjohn. “This donation is our way of showing that we are honored to have been given this opportunity, and that we are committed to building a better experience for the students, athletes, and the city.”

“We are very lucky to have such generous supporters of the U of S,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. “I am deeply grateful to Lawrence and Patricia Rychjohn, and Alice and Ian Van Norman, for their contributions not only to this hotel development, but also for their gift for our new ice-facility.”


Ian and Alice Van Norman (left) and Lawrence and Patricia Rychjohn (right) donating $1 million to the Home Ice Campaign at the hotel development ground-breaking event (photo: Dave Stobbe).

The announcement of this donation from the Rychjohns and Van Normans came one day after the official launch of the Home Ice Campaign highlighted by a donation of $12.25 million from law and commerce grad Merlis Belsher (BComm’57, LLB’63).

In addition to the 50-50 partnership for College Hotels LP, the Rychjohns and Van Normans have a history of developing and owning commercial and residential properties together, dating back to 1981. Their most notable venture involved was when they teamed to jointly build for the construction of Circle Park Mall (now one half of “The Centre”).

The Rychjohns have strong connections to the U of S, which made giving to the Home Ice Campaign natural. “Lawrence and I both received degrees from the U of S, and all three of our children attended the U of S,” said Patricia. “Our education is one cornerstone of who, and where, we are as a family today.”

The Van Normans are renowned for their generosity, not just in Saskatoon, but also throughout the world. Ian and Alice have done mission work in Haiti to support the Claire Heureuse Hospital and in Burundi for a clinic that bears their name.

“Saskatoon has been good to us,” said Ian. “We are blessed; and we are happy to do something that, in addition to benefiting the university, will also benefit the entire community.”

Go to the Home Ice Campaign site for more information and to donate.

Alumnus’ $12.25M gift will help give new home to the Huskies and community hockey

History was made on Oct. 13, when University of Saskatchewan (U of S) commerce and law graduate Merlis Belsher contributed $12.25 million to help fund a new ice facility to replace Rutherford Rink. Belsher’s gift is the largest donation from an alumnus and individual in the university’s history.

Community members, Huskie athletes, university representatives and hockey aficionados gathered in Rutherford Rink for the donation announcement. The special occasion also marked the public launch of the Home Ice Campaign, in which the university, minor league hockey and community volunteers, will ask the public to raise the remaining $7 million to fund the new facility. The fundraising campaign is led by alumnus and hockey legend Dave King.

Belsher explained his primary intention for his lead gift to the campaign. “I made this donation because of my gratitude for the University of Saskatchewan—it provided me with confidence and education in two professions. That was my doorway to a satisfying career in the manufacturing industry.”


Merlis Belsher is contributing $12.25 million to help fund a new twin-ice facility on campus (photo: Dave Stobbe).

The accomplished accountant, lawyer, entrepreneur and philanthropist said his success started when he first came to the University of Saskatchewan. He graduated with a bachelor of commerce in 1957, and was admitted to the Saskatchewan Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1960. He returned to the U of S to pursue a law degree, graduating in 1963, and was admitted to the Law Society of Saskatchewan the following year. A businessman by nature, he then purchased a concrete products manufacturing business in Saskatoon. Through acquisitions and expansion, he grew the business to be a leader in Western Canada, eventually selling it in 2008 to Oldcastle, an international firm.

Finding success in not one, but multiple professions took dedication and a strong work ethic. For Belsher, it also required a community of support. When he was just 15 years old both of his parents died tragically in a blizzard near their homestead. As a result, Belsher found himself alone at an early age.

It was thanks to a caring group of community members, and two older siblings, that he was guided to his new home at Luther College in Regina, where he finished his high school education and his interest in pursuing a university education deepened.

Belsher reminisced about the many mentors and teachers who encouraged his educational pursuits, but it was his mother, an elementary school teacher, to whom he gives the most credit. She instilled in him the importance of education and hard work from an early age; now he’s reaped the rewards of those values.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” he explained. “If I had one wish, it would be that my mother could see how much education has helped me.”

Education has since become a major focus in Belsher’s philanthropic and volunteer efforts. He’s served the University of Saskatchewan as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council in both the College of Law and the College of Commerce (now Edwards School of Business), and he’s been donating to the university for decades. One notable donation was his establishment of the Merlis Belsher Access to Justice Fund in the College of Law in 2014, to support clinical learning opportunities for students through Community Legal Services for Saskatoon Inner City.

Although this donation is sports-specific—supporting all Huskies teams, campus recreation participants and minor league hockey players—he insisted it will have an equivalent impact on education.

“Sports are inextricably interwoven with education,” he said. “Sports keep young kids off the streets, and get them involved in community.”


An avid sports fan, and former athlete and hockey coach, Belsher can relate to the importance of athletics in youth life. That’s why $250,000 of his donation is a matching commitment, to involve children and community members in the new ice facility. He has called upon Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association to fundraise for the new facility as well, and they have taken up the challenge.

Belsher’s enthusiasm for giving back to support the university and the community is infectious. He’s most excited that his donation will help increase the amount of ice time available for both the Huskies and minor hockey league players. The university has an agreement with Saskatoon Minor Hockey to reserve a significant number of hours for the use of community hockey programming.


An architectural rendering of Merlis Belsher Place.

Although the new ice facility will be named after him—Merlis Belsher Place—Belsher remains humble, and stated that he did not make the contribution for the notoriety. He made it to help university students, first and foremost.

“This is about the university, not me,” he said. “If you see a good cause, you get fulfilled by getting involved.”

Check out more photos from this special announcement at Rutherford Rink.

For more information about the Home Ice Campaign, or to make a donation, please visit home-ice.ca.

 Jessica Elfar is a development communications specialist in University Relations.

Hughes’ gift enhances student training and animal care

Bev Hughes’ vision for a customized classroom for Western College of Veterinary (WCVM) students has become a reality.

Workers recently completed construction on the new BJ Hughes Centre for Clinical Learning at the veterinary college. This customized classroom was made possible by a major donation from Bev Hughes, who saw a need for the facility when she toured the human medicine-focused Clinical Learning Resource Centre in the University of Saskatchewan’s Health Sciences building.

“It is advanced learning. I think any advanced learning is good. More importantly, it is 21st century learning and 21st century technology. I want our vet college in Saskatoon to be the most progressive in North America,” says Hughes, who along with the BJ Hughes Foundation, contributed $340,000 toward the centre that cost nearly $500,000 to build and equip.

Bev Hughes

Bev Hughes announced a donation of $250,000, in addition to a $340,000 gift to help establish the BJ Hughes Centre for Clinical Learning at the WCVM (submitted photo).

During the official opening of the centre on Sept. 22, Hughes announced an additional $250,000 donation, which will be used to ensure sustainability of the clinical learning centre.

Hughes, who has supported the college for more than 10 years through a scholarship, says her dedication stems from her passion for animals and her love for the WCVM and the work done at the college.

The new classroom will give students a chance to practise clinical techniques and hone their skills in a safe learning environment. The lab’s flexible learning space will offer the college’s faculty the opportunity to teach various levels of simulation – from running through client scenarios with actors to practising surgical techniques on computerized models.

While planning for the centre began more than five years ago, Hughes’ donation moved things forward in the past 18 months.

Read more on Bev Hughes’ special contribution to make the BJ Hughes Centre for Clinical Learning possible.

Written by Jeanette Neufeld

Refurbished student lounge opens, thanks to donors

Students will now enjoy an updated and enhanced Arts & Science Student Union (ASSU) lounge, thanks to donors who gave during One Day for Students on March 10, 2016.

ASSU student lounge reopening 014

In 24 hours on One Day for Students, donors gave over $2,500 to assist in refurbishing the lounge, a total which was matched by the college.

ASSU student lounge reopening 025

The official launch party and ribbon-cutting for the new and improved lounge took place on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The lounge, located in Arts 220, now features new seating and counters to accommodate study space, newly painted walls, prints (including pieces created by students) and a pool table.

ASSU student lounge reopening 006

“This is no longer an empty space,” said Arts and Science Students’ Union President Olya Stepanenko. “It is a safe and comforting environment welcome to all Arts & Science students.”

Photos by Chris Putnam

Campaign for Students: Dream Big!

The Campaign for Students is underway for the 2016-17 school year.

Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends of the U of S, last year’s campaign efforts raised over $848,000. All donations throughout the campaign supported a variety of student-centered initiatives, such as awards and bursaries. Funding from the campaign also provided funding for travel opportunities and extracurricular activities related to a student’s area of study.

The theme for the Campaign for Students is Dream Big! Students come to the U of S in pursuit of achieving their big dreams. Donors like you play an important role in allowing students to realize their aspirations and ease their financial burdens.

Your donation to the Campaign for Students helps students like Dakoda Herman, a fourth-year Biochemistry student, to work towards their dreams. Dakoda aspires to lead the World Health Organization.(Photo: David Stobbe / stobbephoto.ca)

Your donation to the Campaign for Students helps students like Dakoda Herman, a fourth-year Biochemistry student, alleviate financial pressures while working towards their dreams.  (Photo: David Stobbe / stobbephoto.ca)

Fourth-year Biochemistry student, Dakoda Herman is one of many students who have been a recipient of awards funded through the Campaign for Students. Dakoda dreams of one day leading the World Health Organization and combating infectious disease. “Expenses are always a challenge,” he said.  “I am so grateful for the support I have received through the Campaign for Students. Knowing that there are people who believe in me and what I’m working to accomplish makes me feel like I am on the right path.”

Your donation to the Campaign for Students ensures that students like Dakoda don’t have to sacrifice study time by addressing financial obstacles. There are several ways to contribute to the Campaign for Students, including donations to specific colleges, funds, University Library, Huskie athletics, and more.

Giving to the Campaign for Students is easy, convenient, and any amount, big or small, makes a lasting impact on U of S students.

The Campaign for Students runs until April 30, 2017. Interested donors are encouraged to vist: www.give.usask.ca/students for more information on how to give.

Generosity keeps Julie Labach on track

Student-athletes at the U of S have a multitude of demands to meet. They have to manage a full course load, maintain a high level of academic performance, manage their schedule, maintain peak physical condition, and travel to games. Not to mention practice, practice, practice.

With a schedule like this, there is virtually no time for a student to take on a part-time job to cover costs. Now imagine the challenges that come with being a student-athlete who plays two different sports. This is a reality for Julie Labach, a finance major and a track and field and soccer star for the Huskies.

However, thanks to the generosity of U of S donors through the Annual Campaign for Students, Labach’s rigorous but rewarding schedule is not compromised by cost.

Labach is entering her third year in the Edwards School of Business. Upon completing her degree, she hopes to continue studies in law school. Growing up in Saskatoon, Labach had several influences including her father, a criminal lawyer, who helped her gravitate towards the practice. “I like public speaking, debating, and enjoy being in a courtroom. Growing up with it had a big part in my enthusiasm for law,” she said. “I loved mock trials in high school and I have participated in public speaking competitions since being at U of S.”

Labach’s competitive spirit is not only on display in a debate, but also the track and the pitch. Despite never having run track before attending the U of S, Labach has competed in a variety of events, including running as part of the 4 x 800m relay team, which finished seventh at the CIS Championship. She is also a striker for the Huskies soccer team. Soccer has been a passion for Labach since she was five years old. She has also trained extensively with the High-Performance Development Centre throughout high school, honing her skills.

Julie Labach is a two-sport athlete for the Huskies in soccer and track and field.  (Photo:  Josh Schaefer/Huskie Athletics)

Julie Labach is a two-sport athlete for the Huskies in soccer and track and field, while majoring in finance in the Edwards School of Business. (Photo: Josh Schaefer/Huskie Athletics)

Labach identifies and enjoys the parallels of track and finance. “I like that there’s always a right and a wrong with finance,” she says. “It’s the same as track. You always know when you’ve done a good job and a bad job. With running, or investing, there’s no way someone can take that performance from you.”

Between competitions and the classroom, it’s a hectic pace for Labach, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She acknowledges that the alumni-funded scholarship support she has received—through the Annual Campaign for Students—has allowed her to chase excellence as both a student and an athlete. “Time management is difficult,” she says. “Having support from scholarships means that I don’t have to take on part-time work, which would mean I would have to make a sacrifice somewhere. The support from donors relieves that stress.”

The scholarships that Labach has earned include an entrance scholarship, a scholarship through the Edwards School of Business and the Huskies Athletics Opportunity Matching Award, which rewards excellence in athletics and academics.

Alumni giving back to the university to fund scholarships, awards, and bursaries is a source of inspiration for Labach. “Some may think a small gift doesn’t matter, but it completely adds up! The extra $500 or $1,000 helps so many students,” she said. “Having people who believe in students enough to make a donation means everything to me. It’s an affirmation of your hard work.”

Labach is grateful for the contributions of donors and is inspired to give back to students in the future. “I learned first-hand the difference that donors make for students. I’d like to be able to make that type of contribution myself someday,” she said. “If I didn’t have scholarships, I wouldn’t be able to play both sports and stay on track to earn my degree. These scholarships have changed my life!”

Over $848,000 was raised through the Annual Campaign for Students to support student scholarships, bursaries and awards. Read more about how the Annual Campaign for Students made a major difference for students this past year in the Expanding Our Horizons series:

Troy Appleton gets a lift

Your donation helps drill down the cost of an education

Donors make Emily Mooney’s university experience pitch perfect

Wordly ambition thanks to donor support

Sean Conroy is a development and alumni communications coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan.

Worldly ambition thanks to donor support

Carolyn Wong’s learning style is multi-faceted: although what attracted her to study law at the University of Saskatchewan was the order and logic of the subject, she still expresses her free spirit as she travels around the world to gain new educational experiences many could only dream of.

The graduate has just finished her third and final year of studies to be a lawyer, at the University of Oxford in England, as part of the U of S study abroad program. She says she wouldn’t have been able to benefit from an international education without the support of U of S donors.

As the recipient of a generous $10,000 scholarship, funded by donors to the Annual Campaign for Students, Carolyn received the assistance she needed to attend the prestigious university in her final year of her law degree. She explained, “Oxford is one of the oldest and one of the best law schools in the world. It has such a rich legal heritage. I wouldn’t have been able to receive this opportunity without this support.”

The travel bug bit her after she completed her first degree at Western University. The Markham, Ontario native studied biology, and then took an extended working holiday after graduation. She moved to London to work at an online media company, and used her holidays every few months to discover Europe—skipping from country to country she travelled through Italy, France and Portugal. As a result, Carolyn says she’s now more open to follow career opportunities world-wide, and aims to work in a large international city like London or New York.

When she initially chose to pursue her law degree, she selected the University of Saskatchewan, even though it was far away from her family in Ontario. She has been very happy with her decision to pursue a smaller program. She said, “You really get to know people well. The faculty are very approachable, and have been so helpful—even providing me with reference letters or teaching me new subjects I’m interested in, like the use of DNA in evidence law.”


Funds raised through the Annual Campaign for Students allowed Carolyn Wong to study in at the University of Oxford through the study abroad program with the   U of S in her final year of studying law. Wong’s travels also took her to Bangladesh, Italy, France, and Portugal (photo).

Carolyn’s international education was given a boost in her second year of studies at the U of S, when she was one of the lucky few to be accepted to intern with United Nations (UN) in the summer of 2014. The opportunity came about as a result of a partnership between the United Nations Development Program and Universities of Canada that began in 2012, and her travels were supported with a $5000 bursary funded by U of S donors.

Carolyn’s UN assignment was to travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh to assist international lawyers with development work. Working in the government sector, she worked on a project that provided legal aid for garment workers.

The experience left a lasting impression on her. She said, “There are so many experiences I wouldn’t have had without donors! I wouldn’t have gone to Bangladesh as the UN internship was unpaid. Instead I’ve had the opportunity to explore becoming an international lawyer.”

Now that’s she’s graduated she moving back to Canada for a clerkship at the Federal Court of Canada in Ottawa, where she will assist a judge with research and writing. “It will give me a behind the scenes look at how judges make decisions,” she explained. After that, she’s hoping to work for a full-service law firm to explore administrative law, immigration, and Aboriginal law.

She’s also planning to give back to support students once her career is off the ground. She said, “The support has benefitted me so much, and helped me get to the position I am in. I hope I can recreate this experience for another student one day. I’d like to pay it forward!”

Over $848,000 has been raised through the Annual Campaign for Students to support student scholarships, bursaries, and awards. Read more about how the campaign made a major difference for students this past year in the Expanding Our Horizons series:

Troy Appleton gets a lift

Your donation drills down the cost of an education

Donors make Emily Mooney’s university experience pitch perfect

Written by Jessica Elfar, Development Communications Specialist