University of Saskatchewan Announces Landmark $12 Million Donation

University of Saskatchewan Professor Emeritus Karim (Kay) Nasser (Phd’65) announced today that the Nasser family has made a $12 million dollar gift to support students at the University of Saskatchewan. The donation comes in the form of real estate and is the largest philanthropic gift the university has ever received.
“Through this gift, the Nasser family is allowing more students to choose the University of Saskatchewan, and ensuring that when they do, it is a welcoming place for all students – a place where they can be successful,” said Vice-President University Advancement Heather Magotiaux. “We are very thankful for the Nassers’ commitment and generosity over the past four decades, and for this landmark donation that allows us to make great strides in continuing to improve the student experience.”
“From the beginning of my days as a student at the University of Saskatchewan, I knew that I wanted to give back to the U of S as it made a big difference in my life,” said Nasser. “If not for financial help, I would not have been able to get to university myself, so the main interest of my family is students who need financial assistance. We would like all students who want to come to this university be able to.”
The gift in-kind will be used to improve the student experience at the U of S by creating new undergraduate needs-based awards, helping hundreds of students each year. The Nassers are also designating a part of the gift to the College of Engineering, and to the construction of two new spaces that are focused on building community among students: the Gordon Oakes–Red Bear Student Centre, and a student amenities building as a part of the College Quarter student residence development. The family is also giving the university the building that houses the Edwards School of Business K. W. Nasser Centre, allowing the U of S to secure its presence in downtown Saskatoon.
Mark Boots, a student who has been a recipient of the Nasser family’s existing awards remarked, “Dr. Nasser is an inspiration to all students, not only for his professional achievements as an engineer and entrepreneur, but as a community citizen who shows us that it’s important to support the university that gave us our start.”
The Nassers have made a gift to the university each year since 1967. During his 33-year teaching career in the College of Engineering and as a professor emeritus, Dr. Nasser has been a generous supporter of the university, directing the majority of his gifts towards student awards. His wife, Dora, and their five children are also U of S alumni.
For more information about the Nassers and the gift, visit
Pictured above: the Nasser family at the Edwards School of Business K.W. Nasser Centre opening

Restaurant Makeover for Alumnus-Entrepreneur

With a healthy blend of excitement and anxiety, University of Saskatchewan alumnus and local entrepreneur Jerry Kristian (BComm’96), and his wife and business partner Elyse Cullen, closed the doors of Jerry’s Food Emporium for a week at the end of January while Toronto-based designer Meredith Heron (made famous by the hit TV show Restaurant Makeover) set out to create a new look for Jerry’s.
Kristian is very familiar with the fast food and ice cream industry in Saskatoon. His family opened the first Dairy Queen Brazier store in Saskatoon. “I grew up in an entrepreneurial house. When we went out for dinner a common conversation was, ‘What do you like about this place? What would you change?’” he says.
“We’ve changed the restaurant over the years, but we realized we needed the pros [to renovate] and we couldn’t keep doing it ourselves,” says Kristian. “Saskatoon is growing up, and we need to take our concept and push forward a little bit.” Heron was given a lot of freedom to change Jerry’s, but it was made clear “the soul of this place is untouchable.”
The results are a new décor and fresh additions to the menu, including fresh baked goods inspired by renowned baker Mario Fortin, to complement the classics customers have grown to love. Cullen says, “It’s still simple, it’s still comfortable, but we’ve taken it a step further.”
Despite growing up with connections to the food service industry, Kristian admits running a restaurant was not part of his original plans while at the U of S. “I wanted to go down east and get my MBA, but I was born and raised here. I realized I didn’t want to get into the rat-race. Saskatoon offers a great lifestyle and quality of life.”
Although he seems apprehensive to use the word, Kristian finds himself taking on an increasingly large role as mentor to his 45 to 55 employees. This is not necessarily a role he would have predicted, but he sees a lot of potential for growth among his employees. “My time at the U of S taught me to be flexible, to not have a narrow direction.”
Lessons learned around the dinner table growing up and at the U of S appear to have taken root, as Kristian attempts to “remake a 13 year old impression” with his customers.
Pictured above (l-r): Elyse Cullen, Meredith Heron, Jerry Kristian

GlaxoSmithKline Makes Major Investment in the University of Saskatchewan

GlaxoSmithKline announced today that it will make an investment of $1.5 million in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan.
The college will use the donation to create a chair position in rational drug design, which is the process of designing new medications based on the knowledge available about the disease and the way it interacts with the human body. Drug research and design are a critical element of health care, but drug development is a long process. To potentially shorten this process, rational drug design uses information about the structure of a drug receptor to identify or create candidate drugs, rather than the traditional trial-and-error method used to develop drugs.
“GlaxoSmithKline has been a long-standing supporter of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and they are critical in the initiation of this discovery research,” said Dr. David Hill, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. “From work at the molecular level to research into why patients may or may not continue to take their prescribed medications, the college is very active and innovative in every level of pharmaceutical science.”
The new chair position will work in collaboration with the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron which provides the capability to see living cells as they react to drugs. The collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and the CLS will lead to more efficient and effective design of therapeutic drugs which precisely target the source of disease, according to Hill. This work holds enormous potential for the ability to treat diseases such as cancer, HIV-AIDS and diabetes.
Pictured above L to R: University of Saskatchewan President Peter MacKinnon, the Honourable Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, Mr. Paul Lucas, President of GlaxoSmithKline, Dr. David Hill, Dean of the College of Pharmacy & Nutrition, and Dr. Dennis Gorecki, Former Dean of the College of Pharmacy & Nutrition

U of S Alumni Honoured at Gala Dinner

A co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, a leader in aboriginal education, Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister, a vice-president of a financial advisory firm, a law enforcement staff sergeant, and a pioneer in “womentorship” all received awards at the annual Honouring our Alumni Gala Dinner held Feb. 4 at TCU Place.
The University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association’s showcase event had over 225 alumni, friends and community leaders pause to honour six U of S alumni who serve as prime examples of leadership and service to the community. Sharon Laflamme (BEd’91, PGD’01), chair of the Alumni Association’s Alumni Successes Committee, says, “The awards gala is an opportunity to not only recognize the accomplishments of individual recipients, it is an opportunity for all U of S graduates to be proud of the many ways we can, and do, impact the communities in which we live and serve.”
This year marks the 30th year of the Alumni Award of Achievement. The five other award categories are: Alumni Excellence in Aboriginal Achievements Award, Alumni Humanitarian Award, Alumni Mentorship Award, Alumni Service Award, and Outstanding Young Alumni.
The evening began with a champagne reception, where attendees were able to mingle with the award recipients and community leaders and swap campus stories with fellow alumni. “It’s a great opportunity to see some familiar faces, catch up with friends from our days on campus, and have fun celebrating our fellow alumni,” says Laflamme.
Dr. Malcolm Wilson (MSc’77, PhD’81), recipient of the Alumni Award of Achievement, was also the evening’s guest speaker. He spoke of his work as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—for which he was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore—and his work on various provincial, national and international carbon capture initiatives. Dr. Wilson currently serves as director in the Office of Energy and Development at the University of Regina.
The evening’s other award recipients were: Cort Dogniez (BEd’79, PGD’92), coordinator of First Nations, Inuit and Metis education with the Saskatoon Public School Board; Susan Milburn (BComm’78, MBA’80), vice-president of Raymond James in Saskatoon and a current member of the U of S Board of Governors; Lorne Gelowitz, S.V.M. (BA’83), staff sergeant with Saskatoon Police Service; Betty-Ann Heggie (BEd’75) (a.k.a. The Stilletto Chick), a former senior vice-president of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan; and Dr. Alika LaFontaine (MD’06), anesthesiology resident at the U of S and Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister (as declared on the CBC’s 2008 program of the same name).
“This evening wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of members of both the Successes Committee and the Awards Selection Committee. I’d also like to thank our generous sponsors for making the evening a special event for our award recipients and all those in attendance,” says Laflamme. Evening sponsors include Arscott and Associates, Industrial Alliance Pacific, Mobo Promotional Products, Saskatoon Media Group (owner of radio stations CJWW 600, Magic 98.3 and 92.9 The Bull), The StarPhoenix, and TD Insurance Meloche Monnex.
Nominations for next year’s awards are now being accepted. The deadline for nominations is June 15, 2010, with the gala dinner likely taking place in November of 2010.
For more information on the awards and recipients, visit

Google, Apple and IBM to attend Career Fair

Three technology giants have taken notice of some work being done in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Google, Apple and IBM will join several local and provincial companies as speakers at the Computer Science Students’ Society’s (CSSS) annual career fair, being held Feb. 9 at the U of S.
“It’s great to see such large and respected technology companies take notice of the quality programs and high caliber of faculty and students we have at the U of S,” says Jeremy Rans, CSSS secretary. “They are here to recruit potential employees, not just present, so it’s a pretty big deal to have representatives from these companies at our annual career fair.”
The Department of Computer Science has generated a lot of notoriety lately with the development of iUsask, an application for the wildly popular Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. An alumni button was recently added to the iUsask application, available for free from Apple’s App Store. Several U of S alumni are involved in the development of the application, including project lead Chad Jones (BE’00, BSc’00), a former Apple employee himself. Jones is currently teaching a class at the U of S on developing applications for Apple’s mobile devices.
Steve Woods (BSc’97), site director for Google’s Waterloo, Ont. facility, will return to campus for the career fair. Originally from Melfort, Woods founded, a voiceportal that uses verbal commands to access online information, that was sold to AOL.
Also returning to campus for the career fair is Jon Lovering (BE’08, BSc’08) a firmware engineer with Apple. Lovering’s work as a firmware engineer requires him to work closely with both computer hardware and software, pairing his skills as an engineer and a computer scientist.
“We like to have U of S alumni come and talk to students about the options that are out there after graduation. Having U of S grads from companies like Google and Apple helps us realize that the doors are wide open for our careers,” states Rans.
The career fair runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Thorvaldson Building on the U of S campus. Presentations are free and open to the public.
For more information on the CSSS and the career fair, visit