Four individuals with long-standing connections to the University of Saskatchewan were granted honorary alumni status at the Alumni Association’s annual general meeting earlier this year. They will be recognized at the annual Honouring our Alumni reception on October 24.
Professor Emeritus David Kaplan joined the U of S Department of Music in 1960 where he taught theory, music education, and world music for some 40 years. He was head of the department for nearly 20 years.
Kaplan formed the University of Saskatchewan Concert band that involved students from all colleges, and he was instrumental in organizing summer music camps and developing the Saskatoon Junior Orchestra. He was also conductor of the University Wind Ensemble and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra for many years.
A prolific composer, Kaplan’s compositions include works for winds, voice, chorus, concert band, orchestra, klezmer band, instrumental ensembles, and theatre.
Kaplan has amassed a collection of exotic and Indigenous instruments from around the world, a portion of which he recently donated to the University of Saskatchewan.
Over the years, Kaplan’s contributions have been recognized by being named a Member of the Order of Canada and CTV Saskatoon’s Citizen of the Year. He has also received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, a Saskatchewan Centennial Medal and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Brian and Laurel Rossnagel have been dedicated and enthusiastic supporters of the University of Saskatchewan and Huskie Athletics for three decades.
Brian is a professor emeritus of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Department of Plant Sciences. He is an internationally recognized scientist who pioneered both oats and barley breeding programs at the U of S. Through the university’s Crop Development Centre, he has been involved in the development of over 90 improved oat and barley varieties.
Brian’s significant contributions to both the livestock feed and human food industries have been recognized with several awards and honours, including the Outstanding Young Agrologist award early in his career, the U of S Award for Distinction in Outreach and Engagement, being named a fellow of both the Canadian Society of Agronomy and the Agricultural Institute of Canada, receiving the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and being inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame.
During her long career at the U of S, Laurel worked in several administrative capacities. She worked with Public Relations; the Office of the Vice-President, External; the Colleges of Kinesiology and Commerce (now the Edwards School of Business); and in the Development and Alumni Office (now Advancement and Community Engagement). Her professionalism and genuine commitment to the university, fellow staff members and students always portrayed the best image of the university possible.
Laurel is a talented artist, specializing in paintings of the prairie landscape. She also features University of Saskatchewan buildings and scenes, many of which have been presented as gifts to retiring U of S administrators.
Together, the Rossnagels have been ardent supporters of various Huskie sports teams. There’s a good chance you will see them cheering at football and basketball games, and they make every effort to attend championship games, no matter where in Canada they are held. They volunteer their time and generously provide scholarships for student athletes. They are also members of the Greystone Circle, the university’s legacy society.
Professor Emerita Lucy Willis came to Saskatchewan after studying nursing in Toronto, Ont. and teaching and supervision in British Columbia. She held a series of appointments in Saskatoon’s City Hospital including head nurse and education and social director.
In 1953, Willis became the first director of the Centralized Teaching Program at the University of Saskatchewan’s Regina Campus. A year later she became a U of S faculty member—a position she held for 30 years.
Willis became the first Saskatchewan nurse to achieve a PhD in nursing—one of only two nurses in Canada to earn such a degree at that time.
Becoming the School of Nursing’s third director in 1969, Willis was an ardent advocate to have the school become the College of Nursing, which happened in 1973. During her tenure as director, the Program for Registered Nurses—the first post-registration bachelor of nursing program—was developed. She also established Continuing Nursing Education with the support of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association.
Willis co-authored a short College of Nursing history book, Fifty years: just the beginning, that was published by the college in 1988.