“Event Three” to be displayed at the renowned British Museum

Adrian Stimson’s (MFA’06) piece Event Three was unveiled at the British Museum in London, U.K. Stimson’s piece depicts bison with modern grain elevators in a prairie plain.

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Adrian Stimson (MFA’06) unveiling his work Event Three at the British Museum in London, U.K. (Photo: Jared Thomas/CBC)

The artwork was donated by Stimson’s agent and fellow alumnus Cal Redlick (BA’83). Event Three is the second piece to be featured in the world-famous museum, as Event Two was purchased by the museum in 2015.

Read more about Stimson’s work and inclusion in the British Museum.

Nominate a deserving young alumnus or alumna today!

Our young alumni have made a real difference in their community, their field of study/work, and the world. Many of them remain closely connected to the University of Saskatchewan, lending their talents, knowledge and experience to help make our alma mater even better. Let these outstanding young graduates know that their efforts and achievements are recognized!

The USSU Engaged Young Alumni Award is presented annually to a young alumnus or alumna who has maintained a strong connection to the U of S since graduation, is actively engaged in his or her community, and has shown characteristics that indicate future success and significant contributions to their community.

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To be eligible for the award, the USSU Engaged Young Alumni Award is for alumni who:

  • have graduated in the past 5 years (class of 2011 or later)
  • are 35 years of age or younger.

The recipient will be recognized at the annual USSU Excellence Awards ceremony in April. The deadline for nominations is February 10, 2017.

Nominate a deserving young alumnus or alumna today!

Towriss stepping down as Huskie Athletics football coach

After 33 years as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team, Brian Towriss (BComm’78) is stepping down.

Towriss, 60, holds the national record in wins by a football coach at 196 and has coached the most games in university sport with 315.

“I want to thank all of those that have supported me throughout my career at the University of Saskatchewan and all of the fans in Huskie Nation,” said Towriss. “I have had a fulfilling and wonderful career here. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my wife, Vicki, and my two wonderful children, Kellie and Jake. I have also had the pleasure of working with a loyal group of coaches and support staff that have shared my vision and passion for the program for a longtime. I am proud to say that we won a lot of football games and we did it with honesty, respect and hard work. I wish the program continued success and a return to national prominence.”brian-towriss-field1

The Moose Jaw native has led the Huskies to three Vanier Cup titles, 11 Hardy Cup titles and nine Vanier Cup appearances. He is a nine-time Canada West coach of the year and one-time national coach of the year. In his tenure, 154 Huskies have been named conference all-stars, 71 All-Canadians and 160 to a Huskie or national all-academic team. He has coached 47 players who went on to play in the CFL.

He joined an elite group in 2007 when he was handed Saskatchewan’s highest honour by the Government of Saskatchewan, the Order of Merit.

“BT has had a long distinguished career as a coach, but moreover as a well-respected leader in sport across the Canada West and U Sports,” said athletic director and long-time friend Basil Hughton. “He has impacted many young athletes, coaches and staff throughout his years of service as their mentor and friend. BT has devoted countless hours promoting our university to not only prospective athletes but to many other audiences across Canada.

“While the term legend is reserved for only a select few, I truly believe that it is fitting to describe BT and his accomplishments as one. He is the consummate professional, the ultimate team player and a well-respected voice around our Huskie coaches table. I am truly happy for him and respect his decision to devote more time to himself, his family and to whatever else his future holds.”

The search for a new coach will begin immediately. An interim coach will be named in the new year.

A message from your Alumni Association President: a year worth celebrating

With 2016 almost over and 2017 on the horizon, it’s a great chance to reminisce about the past year while also looking forward to the exciting next events planned for our Alumni Association centennial.

In September, we kicked off our centennial year at the annual U of S homecoming game. Our official launch was followed by a near record-breaking attendance as our Huskies football team had a great game with the Vanier Cup bound University of Calgary Dinos.

Homecoming was just the beginning of our celebrations; the tip of the iceberg you may say. Since then, our alumni staff have been out to the west coast to meet and celebrate with our Victoria and Vancouver alumni. We’ve also hosted alumni at several Huskie Athletics games with our Alum Nights.

A very special fall event was our annual Alumni Achievement Awards, where 11 esteemed alumni were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments.

When talking to alumni at these events, I always find it inspiring to see the common vitality that exists in U of S graduates. We are ambassadors of this campus. We are proud of our U of S roots. We have that distinct Saskatchewan charm; both humble and self-assured in our pursuits.

It’s wonderful that so many alumni have already participated in our centennial year. With this momentum, we head into 2017 and continue to celebrate our historic 100 year anniversary.

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March 25, 2017 marks our inaugural Volunteer Summit. You’re invited to save the date as we gather together to make Saskatchewan’s volunteer community richer, more diverse and stronger than ever before.

Once again we’re coming to you with events planned in Regina, Moose Jaw, Calgary and internationally in Arizona, Palm Springs, San Francisco and London. For more details on these events, head to our centennial website.

Our celebrations will end in May with the Alumni Weekend. We plan to celebrate with a bang and you won’t want to miss the chance to reconnect with our classmates, reacquaint yourself with the beautiful U of S campus and remember your time as a U of S student. I encourage you to join us May 18 – 21 for a weekend full of events including much reminiscing, campus tours, college activities and family-friendly events.

This centennial year provides our 150,000 alumni across the world the unique opportunity to reconnect with our alma mater. I’m looking forward to joining as many of you as possible as we embark on this last leg of our celebrations. 2016 was indeed an exciting year for us as an association, and I anxiously look forward to what 2017 has in store.

The Alumni Association Board of directors and staff join me in wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season with health and happiness in 2017!

Best,

Jim Blackburn (BSP’60)

President, University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association

Grahams’ gift a game-changer for the U of S

Ron and Jane Graham know a good opportunity when they see one.

When they heard that the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) was proceeding on a new ice facility to replace the aging Rutherford Rink, they decided to get involved to fix a long-standing issue that they said also put the Huskie basketball teams at a disadvantage.

The basketball teams practice in the Physical Activity Complex (PAC), but are unable to use the facilities every December and April when the space is transformed into an exam room for finals. Ron said that reduction in practice time has a real impact on the athletes, who train 12 months a year.

“It’s a year-round commitment,” he said, noting that the exam scheduling also leads to other hurdles. “It’s difficult for the university to attract tournaments, because the demands on the PAC are significant.”

With many other Canadian universities offering more practice facilities for their athletes, the Grahams have now committed $4 million to the U of S to further develop the new ice facility—Merlis Belsher Place—into a multi-sport complex.

Their major gift will allow for the addition of two practice gymnasiums, dressing rooms and team rooms for Huskie basketball. Additionally, the new courts will be NBA length, “a full 94 feet—longer than collegiate courts in the city,” he said. The new space also gives the university flexibility to consider an athletic injury research area for athletes down the road, which is on the Grahams’ wish list for the basketball teams.

Huskie men’s basketball coach Barry Rawlyk said the Grahams have been instrumental to the teams, and that their commitment to the new facility will lead to improved player development.

“This is a true game changer,” he noted. “Access to a facility such as this will greatly enhance the student-athlete experience for every member of our team and will further enhance our ability to attract top-level talent to the University of Saskatchewan.”

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Ron and Jane Graham made a gift of $4 million to support the construction of two basketball practice courts at Merlis Belsher Place (Photo: Dave Stobbe).

The university announced the donation to the new facility as part of a special recognition event for the Grahams on December 8, with university students and staff, Huskie athletes and Saskatoon community members in attendance.

The event also celebrated a major milestone—the Grahams have now donated close to $20 million in their lifetime to support the university and its students, which is the largest cumulative gift from alumni in university history. In recognition of that remarkable support, the university announced that the main court in the PAC will be named Ron and Jane Graham Centre Court.

“We are privileged to have the support of Ron and Jane Graham, who are shining examples of what it means to be passionate University of Saskatchewan alumni,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. “Their generosity is evident across campus, having contributed to numerous athletic initiatives, academic programs, and student scholarships. Simply put, they are outstanding supporters who have made a positive impact on our campus for our entire community.”

The Grahams have been proud Huskie supporters for decades because athletics played a positive role in their university experiences. When they studied at the U of S—Ron (BE’62, DCL’13) and Jane (BEd’63) —Ron was a quarterback for the Huskie football team while Jane was actively involved in intramurals, playing every sport offered.

In 2010, this passion for supporting athletics led to a new visitors’ facility for Huskie football.

“We had done a walkthrough of the old facility, and you could see the sky through the holes in the ceiling,” said Ron, who described the need to get involved with the re-design of the clubhouse.

The Grahams donated nearly $3 million towards the two-storey expansion of the modern Graham Huskie Clubhouse at Griffiths Stadium, providing Huskie Athletics with a much-needed training room, film room and meeting space that helps give the team an advantage.

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An architectural drawing of the Ron and Jane Graham Gymnasium.

The Grahams have also made a major impact on the university’s basketball teams. After their trip to watch the women’s team compete at the national championship in 2015, Ron noted opposing teams had more fulsome coaching complements. After that competition, he and Jane decided to fund assistant coaches for the two Huskie basketball teams for five years.

The competition was a memorable one for Ron and Jane, and showed the Huskies just how dedicated the couple is to the teams. The Grahams flew from their home in La Quinta, Calif., and then in-between the competition’s two host cities—Toronto and Quebec City—throughout the competition weekend, so that they could see both the Huskie men’s and women’s teams compete.

“We had hotels in both cities because we didn’t know who would advance (to the medal round). At the end of it we were more tired than the players!” said Ron with a laugh.

When thinking back to their many donations to the U of S, the contribution the Grahams are most proud of is the establishment of the Ron and Jane Graham Centre for the Study of Communication in the College of Engineering in 2007, which transformed to a school in 2013 after the Grahams donated

$3.27 million to enhance the centre. The Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development helps engineering, agriculture and bioresources, and kinesiology students develop professional communication and entrepreneurial skills so that they are better prepared to enter the job market and to become better citizens after graduation.

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A conceptual design of Ron and Jane Graham Centre Court.

“That is the most memorable and long-lasting gift we’ve made,” said Ron, who comes from a family that includes three generations of U of S engineering alumni. Ron also noted that this gift in particular brought together the couple’s vocational interests.

“It seemed to fit with Jane’s education background and my engineering background, so we focused on giving there,” he said.

Not only have the Grahams made a positive impact on the U of S community and campus, they’ve also left a lasting impression on the parents of many Huskie athletes.

“We often hear from parents of students who have benefited while at sporting events—they even express their gratitude to our family members,” Ron said.

When asked what inspires them to give back to their alma mater, the Grahams spoke of supporting areas that are close to their hearts. They hope other alumni do the same, in their own way.

“We look at people to give back to where they are passionate,” Ron said. “We hope it’s at their university, as it sets the direction of their careers.”

Based on the turnout for the donation announcement event, the Grahams’ passion for supporting the university, its students and its athletes is appreciated by many across campus.

Written by Jessica Elfar

Alumni Highlights: Joni Avram

For this month’s alumni highlight as part of the Alumni Association centennial, we’re profiling College of Law graduate Joni Avram (LLB’91). Joni is the principal of Cause & Effect Marketing, a Calgary-based brand and engagement consultancy.

Cause & Effect Marketing won a 2016 SABRE North America award for its work on Alberta’s province-wide #IBelieveYou campaign, promoting the power of a compassionate response to sexual assault survivors, and its role in creating safer and healthier communities.

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Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?

The campus was relatively small back in the early 90s, and I spent most of my time at the College of Law, which its own little microcosm. As an observer over the years, it seems that universities generally play a bigger role in the larger community – connecting students with community and business leaders in a more focused way.

What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?

Visiting the Saigon Cafe – I have yet to find better Chinese food!

Overall, how was your U of S experience?

I enjoyed my U of S experience – it’s a gem of a school in a beautiful city. I made lasting friendships and am proud to be part of the school’s great heritage.

How did going to the U of S shape your career?

I got a law degree but chose to work as a public affairs and marketing consultant. I often say that I work in the court of public opinion. Every job I’ve ever had was because of that law degree. Having owned my own business for 10 years, it has definitely helped differentiate me among my peers. It’s also been invaluable in helping me analyze problems and frame issues in a way that affect social change. It’s also been great to connect and do business with all the other “Saskatchabertans” living in Calgary!

What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?

I wish I had a clearer career trajectory because it took me a while to find my niche. At the time, I didn’t have a great sense of career options – it took a fair amount of digging on my part to discover all the opportunities a law degree offers. I also wish I had known how much bigger the world was about to become. I graduated in 1991 – just a few years before the Internet opened up endless possibilities. When I look forward, I’m focused on continuous learning, and am grateful for the foundation of inquiry I received at the U of S.

Check in for monthly Q&As with alumni from all the U of S colleges, as we sit down to talk about their life after the U of S and how being on this campus shaped their careers. In case you missed any previous features, you can read them here