Alumni Achievement Award recipients announced

Alumni_HonouringOurAlumni_v2014Congratulations to the 2014 recipients of the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Awards!

Recipients will be recognized at a reception on October 23 at Louis’ Loft (Upper MUB on the U of S campus).

This year’s recipients are:

  • Leanne Bellegarde (LLB’91) for her leadership in advancing Aboriginal partnerships.
  • Merlis Belsher (BComm’57, LLB’63) for his dedicated service and philanthropy to the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Shannon Dyck, young alumni recipient* (BA’09, MES’12) for her volunteerism and commitment to environment and sustainability initiatives.
  • Fred Fulton (BSA’50, PGD’68. MCtgEd’72) for his significant contributions the University of Saskatchewan and the agricultural industry.
  • Dr. Donald Greve (BA’58, MD’60) for his leadership as a community builder and commitment to the arts.
  • The Hon. Terry Lake (DVM’86) for his dedicated public service and community leadership.
  • Scott McCreath (BComm’69) for his professional excellence, community involvement and philanthropy.
  • Heather Morrison, young alumni recipient* (BFA’08) for her contribution to theatre and the arts and her volunteerism.
  • Mike O’Kane (BE’92, MSc’96) for his role as a global leader in business and industry.
  • Sheila Pocha (BEd’86, PGD’97, MEd’00) for her leadership and contributions to Aboriginal initiatives and education.
  • Andrew Schmitz (BSA’63, MSc’65, DLitt’99) for his significant contributions to education, agriculture and economics.

More information about the recipients, and the awards, can be found at

*Young alumni recipients are subject to the same criteria, and they must be under 35 years of age and have graduated from the U of S no more than 10 years ago.

Historic printmaking display inspires contemporary exhibit

Printed Matters Now, Gordon Snelgrove Gallery

Printed Matters Now, an exhibition in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, University of Saskatchewan. Photo by David Bindle

Centuries ago, printmaking techniques—some of which are still used today—revolutionized western culture, making news, literature and art available to the multitudes. Visitors to the Link Gallery’s Printed Matters exhibition in the Murray Building are offered an historical glimpse into local, national and international examples of printing as a means of mass communication and as an art form.

As an extension of the historical perspective, 14 local artists and printmakers with University of Saskatchewan connections, ten of whom are U of S alumni (see below), created original prints inspired by material housed in University Archives and Special Collections. Printed Matters Now in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery features the new original prints alongside their inspirational archival material.

Dee Gibson (MFA’10), supervisor at University Archives and Special Collections was a driving-force behind the exhibition, supported by the experience and assistance of U of S archivist Cheryl Avery (BA’82, Arts’85) every step of the way.

Gibson invited local artists to participate. “They are all people I was inspired by in class or by their experience in printmaking, people I admire as artists,” she said. “It’s a nice tie-in to have the U of S connections; for some of them to have the opportunity to revisit campus and to have a personal investment in the project because it supports the university they attended.”

Being familiar with the artists, Gibson brought out a selection of archival material she thought might inspire them. “I tried to tailor the selection to the various styles and interests of the artists. Some had their own ideas of what they’d like to look at based on what they were working on in their studio practices.

“The artists really came together as a community,” explained Gibson. “Artists work alone a lot, but printmaking brings people together; they need to share equipment and space. It’s really community oriented.”

Each artist produced 20 prints and will receive a complete collection of all 14 prints. University Archives and Special Collections and Library and Archives Canada will each receive a set, and the remaining sets will be set aside as gifts to future major donors of the planned library expansion project. A catalogue of the material is now in the works as a result of how well the exhibition has been received.

Printed Matters Now, Snelgrove Gallery

Guests enjoy the the Printed Matters Now exhibition at the reception, June 27. Photo by David Bindle

Techniques used “span all the basic printmaking methods”: screen printing, etching, stone lithography, aquatint, woodblock, linocut (relief), embossing and waterless lithography, a technique pioneered by former U of S professor and honorary degree recipient, Nik Semenoff.

The community aspect shone through preparing the gallery for the show. “We developed strong connections among the University Library, University Archives and Special Collections, the artists, alumni and the community,” said Gibson. Many of the artists put in a lot of extra effort to paint the gallery walls and hang the pieces.

A reception was held July 27 at the Snelgrove Gallery. For exhibition and gallery hours, visit

Watch Shaw TV Saskatoon’s video on the exhibitions.
Map of U of S galleries.

About the artists

Joseph Anderson (MFA’09) was born in Edmonton, raised in southern Alberta and currently resides in Saskatoon. He received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Lethbridge in 2000 and his master of fine arts from the University of Saskatchewan in 2009. He has exhibited his work in group and solo exhibitions, including the University of Lethbridge Helen Christou Gallery, the Dunlop Gallery (Regina), the Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon), La Petit Mort Gallery (Ottawa), Headbones Gallery (Toronto), Daniel Cooney Fine Art (New York City), and most recently in Bloodless & Boneless, a group show at the Trianon Gallery (Lethbridge). Joseph has worked as a curatorial assistant at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge) and a gallery assistant at the Kenderdine Art Gallery / College Art Galleries at the U of S.

Robyn Anderson is an emerging artist originally from Corner Brook, Newfoundland. After studying in Harlow, England for a short time and residing in St. John’s for a while, she now attends University of Saskatchewan while completing her masters degree. Her work explores a need for narrative and escapism to express anxiety. Robyn draws her inspiration from artists like Kiki Smith and Kathe Kollwitz as well as nature, her dreams, classic fables and myths.

Patrick Bulas is an artist who has lived in Saskatoon for the past 12 years. Born in Edmonton, he has received both his BFA and MFA from the University of Alberta. He has had solo exhibitions in Edmonton, and Saskatoon and has participated in group exhibitions in Finland, Vancouver, and Spain. In addition to his studio practice, he is the printmaking studio technician and a sessional instructor at the University of Saskatchewan and a founding member of Ink Slab Printmakers. He has spent the past several years trying to understand the wonder and beauty of phenomena studied in physics and astronomy through woodcut, etching, and mezzotint. His latest series of prints depict his cat Lucy interacting with a variety of animals and he has collaborated with fellow artist Jordan Schwab on a series of work exploring alternative approaches to printmaking. He’s pretty sure there’s a connection between his cat, using gunpowder to print a woodblock, and the mysteries of the universe, but he hasn’t quite found it yet.

Mackenzie Browning was born in Oshawa, Ontario. Mackenzie graduated with his BFA (honours) from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and is expected to graduate with an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan in the fall of 2014. Mackenzie has exhibited in both Canada and the United States. He was awarded Kingston’s emerging artist award in 2011. He also received the Margaret Craig Scholarship in Fine Art and the Helen Nininger Memorial Scholarship in Fine Art from Queen’s University in 2011. Mackenzie currently lives in Saskatoon and maintains a studio practice in both Saskatoon and Toronto.

Jillian Cyca (BA’09) grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and has lived in Saskatoon since 2004. She works mainly in printmaking and drawing, but has also explored papermaking and ceramics. Her most recent work is a series of prints that combine silkscreen and intaglio, and she is now experimenting with paper cutting and embossing. Jillian graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 2009 (double honours, studio art and art history), and spent one semester studying art, art history and Japanese culture at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. Since 2009, Jillian has worked as an art educator and gallery assistant, and currently works as a curatorial assistant intern at the Mendel Art Gallery. In 2010, Jillian co-founded Ink Slab Printmaking Collective, a group of artists who maintain a shared printmaking studio in downtown Saskatoon and collaborate on various projects and exhibitions.

Cate Francis (BFA’08) is a printmaker and illustrator from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She obtained a BFA from the University of Saskatchewan in 2008. In 2012 she received a of a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier grant to pursue an MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design which she completed in the spring of 2014. She has shown work in galleries across Canada and the U.S.A., and her work has been published in numerous local and national publications including Applied Arts, Grain Magazine, and the Antigonish Review. She is a former board member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council, juror and volunteer for AKA Artist Run Centre and a founding member of Ink Slab Printmakers. In addition to her personal art practice, Cate also works as an award-winning freelance illustrator for numerous clients in the Canadian arts and entertainment industry.

Dee Gibson (MFA’10) is interested in exploring the connections between the natural environment and attentive introspection. This interest has taken her to the east coast of Canada, Scotland, Ireland and most recently to a 3-month residency in the northwest of Iceland. Dee graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 2003 and earned an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010. Originally from rural Ontario, she currently lives and works in Saskatoon.

John David Graham is a multi-disciplinary artist who started his professional creative life by studying architecture and working as an architect. John now balances a broad visual art practice, independent filmmaking, and teaches print media at the University of Saskatchewan. John has been invited to numerable international artist residencies and has been the recipient of many art awards, grants, fellowships and prizes. His print media, artist’s books, drawings, paintings, installation works and short films have been widely exhibited and screened in North America, Asia and Europe. His artworks are included in many collections including those of Loto-Quebec, National Bank of Canada, National Library of Canada, National Library of Quebec, New York Public Library and the Canada Council Art Bank. He is currently based in Saskatoon.

Benjamin Hettinga (BFA’08) is a born-and-raised Saskatoon artist. He graduated from the U of S with a BFA in 2008 where he focused on screen printing. For the past five years Benjamin has focused his art practice on making paper cuts but recently has started focusing on screen printing again. He also writes and draws a series of comics called Purrfect Strangers and keeps busy designing artwork for local and non-local bands.

Rowan Pantel (BFA’08) is a Canadian artist based out of Regina, Saskatchewan. She holds a master of fine arts from the University of Regina, and a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Saskatchewan. Within her work she explores themes of childhood memories, family folklore and life growing up in rural Saskatchewan. She works with a variety of media including, printmaking, drawing, photography, installation, painting, and puppetry.    

Nels Rosassen (BA’12) completed BA from the University of Saskatchewan, among other things

Leah Taylor (BFA’04) is the associate curator at the Kenderdine Art Gallery / College Art Galleries at the University of Saskatchewan. She earned an MA in history in art from the University of Victoria, and a BFA from the University of Saskatchewan, with a major in printmaking. Leah has curated numerous projects including: Gus: the archive of Kenderdine, the Paved Arts Core Series, Re-Imagined, and Picasso and his Contemporaries. She coordinated the panel discussion Peter Smith & The Virtues of Art,facilitating a dialogue that highlights a variety of issues pertaining to mental health and art.Leah’s writing and curatorial practice focuses on contemporary art and the dissemination of social, political, and theoretical ideologies in art. She is currently on the editorial committee and board for BlackFlash Magazine, and on the Artist Advisory Board for Nuit Blanche, Saskatoon.

Luke Warman (BFA’09) was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1979.  His father, an architect and painter, and his mother, an abstract artist, encouraged his artistic skills in both a representational and fantastical sense. Luke lived in various cities, provinces, and countries before choosing to settle in Saskatoon and pursue an education in fine arts. Luke graduated with a degree in fine arts specializing in printmaking from the University of Saskatchewan in 2009 and began his career as an assistant junior graphic designer at a local print shop here in Saskatoon  Through time and dedication Luke is now manages a print and design shop here on campus. In his spare time, he still finds time to engage in drawings and paintings centering on the plastic universe, creating whimsical representations of an adolescent imagination.

Biliana Velkova (MFA’10), originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, is currently based in Vancouver. Her practice incorporates photography, performance and humour to explore the significance of consumerist culture, diaspora and social identity. She has an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan and a BFA from Concordia University. Biliana has recently been appointed the arts coordinator at the soon-to-open Anvil Centre, a boutique conference centre and cultural hub in New Westminster, BC.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell named Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

University of Saskatchewan alumna Elizabeth (Liz) Dowdeswell (BSHEc’66, LLD’94) was appointed lieutenant governor of Ontario by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In 2007, Dowdeswell was listed one of the university’s 100 Alumni of Influence to mark the institution’s centennial. Her citation read:

Liz Dowdeswell’s eclectic public service career, which has included serving as Undersecretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, has spanned provincial, federal, and international borders and transcended traditional disciplinary lines. Her global vision and pragmatic managerial skills were shaped in Saskatchewan in positions as Deputy Minister of Culture and Youth, educational consultant, university lecturer, extension worker, and high-school teacher. She also served as Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment Canada and led a number of public inquiries into such politically sensitive issues as Canada’s unemployment benefits program and federal water policy.

Read CBC News’ announcement

A conversation with Gordon

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Gordon Barnhart

On May 29, 2014, Interim President Gordon Barnhart (BA’67, PhD’98) sat down for an interview with Shannon Boklaschuk (BA’00, MPA’14), a communications coordinator in Student and Enrolment Services Division at the U of S. The following is the text from that interview.

Q: Many stakeholders, both on and off campus, have expressed their concerns about the issues that have arisen at the U of S. What would you like to say to faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the public?

GB: What I’ve been saying—and I very strongly believe this—(is) that I think we’ve turned the corner, or turned the page, as the chair of the Board of Governors has said. I don’t think anybody is minimizing the problems that we’ve had, but that we’re now saying (is), OK. Those things happened. Some corrective action has taken place, and perhaps more yet will come. We (will) start anew, and start rebuilding our reputation. I think people have to appreciate that the things that the university does so well were being done all the way through all of this. It’s just that the controversy took precedence over everything else, and that was all that people were thinking about and talking about.

Q: The University of Saskatchewan’s reputation has been tarnished locally, nationally and internationally in recent weeks. How can our reputation be restored?

GB: I think that it has been. Some people have been saying that perhaps that’s a very long-term thing. I’m thinking that perhaps it won’t be. We certainly have some donors that are showing that they’re unhappy, but I think that we can very quickly show them that we’re taking actions to solve the problems. I’m very, very confident the reputation will (be restored). I’m seeing it already in terms of a positive feeling from the emails that I’m receiving. I think it will also depend on how we work our way through the change that’s needed…in a very, hopefully, painless, or less painful, approach.

Q: Some alumni have questioned the value of their U of S degrees in light of the recent events on campus. How would you respond to their concerns?

GB: I think I want to reassure them that their degree is worth as much now as it ever has (been worth). I think the University of Saskatchewan has a solid reputation, and that won’t change. I don’t think their degree has lost its value at all. The first week in June is a time to celebrate student success at convocation.

Q: Why should we continue to have pride in this institution?

GB: This is an oasis for learning, for research. It’s a community that works together. That’s very enriching in its own way. We should also have pride, I think, in the number of people who have graduated from here and that they have gone on for very well-established, illustrious careers for the province and for the country and for the world. And when you look at people like Gordon Thiessen (BA’59, MA’62, LLD’97), the former governor of the Bank of Canada, he was from Saskatchewan. He graduated (from) the U of S. Those are the kinds of people that we can very proud of, because they came from here, small-town Saskatchewan, and have gone on to do great things in their careers.

Q: Many faculty, staff and students have observed that morale has been low on campus. How can that be improved?

GB: I think we have to stop dealing with the negative, and we have to start to say this is an excellent place to study and to work. I just met in the hallway five minutes ago a young woman who’s here with her mother, and she’s been accepted to university in the fall and she is so excited to be coming to the U of S. That’s one example, but I think we have to take our focus away from the cost-cutting, even though that’s important. We have to shift our focus to educating the young minds that are coming here from across this nation and realize that we have some very, very good things happening.

Q: You have said that you anticipate serving as interim president and vice-chancellor for about 12 to 18 months. What are your immediate priorities?

GB: Obviously, the first and the biggest priority would be to make sure that we improve the reputation, which we’ve already talked about. (We need to) make sure that we have our financial house in order, but also make sure that we have good, clear direction as to where we’re going from an academic point of view. I think we need to help people restore their confidence in the campus. It’s a wonderful campus, and I think we’re all proud of it.

Q: You have previously served as Saskatchewan’s 20th Lieutenant Governor, clerk of the Saskatchewan Legislature, clerk of the Canadian Senate and university secretary at the U of S. Why did you agree to take the job of interim president and vice-chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan?

GB: I was happily minding my own business and working part-time at three different contracts—one with the province, one with the city and one with a mining institute—and the invitation came from the Board of Governors saying that they were experiencing difficulties and they wondered if I would take over. I first thought, “Why me? What do I have that I can contribute?” But they seem to have great confidence in me. And I love this institution. I’m not interested in doing it for the long term, but I said I will do it for a year, year and a half. It will depend on how long it will take for them to complete the search and to find a candidate that will serve this university well. My goal there would be to make sure that I can leave this place in very good shape for the person who will follow.

Northern governance program has La Ronge mayor thinking long term

Thomas Sierzycki, mayor of La Ronge and MNGD grad. Photo by Lindsay Blair

It wasn’t that long ago that Thomas Sierzycki (MNGD’14), a new graduate of the Master of Northern Governance and Development program at the U of S, was grappling with the question of whether the program was for him. It certainly wasn’t like he needed a graduate degree to advance his career; at just 25 years of age, Sierzycki has already filled roles as teacher, mayor and industry-community liaison.

Born and raised in La Ronge by his Polish immigrant parents, Sierzycki’s family formed a deep connection to northern Saskatchewan and forged close bonds to the community. The family lived and worked in La Ronge and vacationed just 80 kilometres north in picturesque Missinipe, one of Saskatchewan’s best-kept secrets.

After completing high school, Sierzycki undertook a Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina via the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP). NORTEP’s distance delivery model meant that Thomas could continue to live in La Ronge studying. Reluctant to leave La Ronge to pursue his degree to begin with, Sierzycki had definitively ruled out leaving when his mother became seriously ill. When she passed away a few years later, he said his commitment to the north had only grown stronger.

“The support I received when mom was sick was only further evidence that this is where I belong,” said Sierzycki. “They took care of me and my family, and I knew I wanted to be able to repay that in some way.”

He began his career by taking a shared teaching position that allowed him to split his time between the community and band high schools. The community had also elected him as city councillor a few years prior, and he decided to see if they would support his bid for mayor despite being only 21 years old. They did and in 2009, Sierzycki became Canada’s youngest elected mayor.

“It’s important to me that I build on my experiences but still feel like I’m growing and accessing new challenges and opportunities,” said Sierzycki. Through his work teaching and governing in those years, he was gaining different but complementary knowledge about education and community building.

At the start of his second term as mayor, Sierzycki was approached with an opportunity he couldn’t resist; AREVA Resources Canada Inc. and Cameco Corporation had joined together to create a position that would help industry and northern communities gain a better understanding of ways to work together. Sierzycki decided to take a step back from teaching to gain some insights into the private sector as the Areva-Cameco Community Vitality Co-ordinator.

“It was then that I became aware of the Master of Northern Governance and Development program,” Sierzycki recalled. “I didn’t think it was something I’d pursue initially, but this program was so aligned with my interests and the things I care about. It was an opportunity to study northern governance and development issues while continuing to live and work in La Ronge. It definitely had me thinking.”

But the timing could not have been worse, what with a new term as mayor and a new private-sector job. He consulted with faculty members in the program and determined that, while he was indeed intrigued, the timing was not right to embark on graduate studies. By the following fall, Sierzycki knew it was that time, and he was accepted into the program. Sierzycki said the MNGD has exceeded his expectations.

“I’ve had such a good experience with the program. You get to study northern economics, communications, and policy planning—all courses that have real world applications here at home.”

When asked about the highlights from his graduate study experience, Sierzycki pointed to a few things. He appreciated that the program attracted students with very different backgrounds and ways of seeing the world. He called the 10-day international field school “a tremendous and transformative” experience that made him look beyond traditional answers and approaches. He referenced the quality of the teaching and the northern expertise of his professors. But overall, it was the opportunity to consider the north’s future in a way he hadn’t before.

“Everyone going into the MNGD program has pre-existing ideas about what the north needs. The program makes you evaluate that thinking and to consider the repercussions of short-term thinking. As mayor, you’re so worried about issues like water and sewer; seldom do you get the chance to think about the dozens of longer-term ideas and solutions. This program was my chance.”

Now that he has his degree, the question of what’s next arises.

“I’m going to continue to govern responsibly, and to ask myself how I can best serve my family, friends and community. This program has reignited my passion for education and planted an awareness of its critical importance.”

Colleen Cameron is communications specialist in the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development.

Seeing convocation from a whole new angle

Danielle Rudulier

Danielle Rudulier’s favourite part of the University of Saskatchewan’s convocation ceremonies is seeing the students’ smiling faces as they walk on stage to receive their degrees.

This year, she will be one of those smiling students.

Rudulier (BEd’08), the co-ordinator of registration and convocation in Student and Enrolment Services Division (SESD), has completed the requirements to obtain a Master of Educational Administration degree from the U of S College of Education. On June 5, she will officially receive her parchment during one of the seven spring convocation ceremonies to be held at TCU Place from June 3 to June 6.

For her, the convocation ceremonies symbolize a time to come together as a community to celebrate our students’ academic achievements.

“I find convocation is all about the atmosphere,” she said. “Yes, it is a long ceremony with lots of students crossing the stage, but I think it is definitely worth attending for those two minutes that you get to be on stage, be hooded with your degree colours and shake a hand while receiving that valuable piece of paper that is going to hang on a wall for years to come.”

While Rudulier is excited about receiving her own degree, she is more focused on ensuring the hundreds of other graduates have a great convocation experience.

She works tirelessly year round on the many details associated with the annual spring and fall ceremonies, such as providing information to the graduating students, sending out the invitations, organizing the ticket distribution, collaborating with co-workers on producing the program and printing the parchments. She also works with staff from TCU Place to make sure the stage is set up and the decorations are ready. There are many other tasks, too: “everything else in-between,” she said.

“One of the challenging aspects is that the ceremonies are live, so everything has to be in place before the curtain goes up for the first ceremony, at which point there is no going back.”

While juggling all those details may sound stressful to some, Rudulier thrives on them. As the adrenaline get pumping, the tasks get done.

“Call me crazy, but I love all the little details and the need to be precise, especially in convocation planning.”

Attending this year’s spring convocation will admittedly be a little different for Rudulier; after all, it’s the first time she’s planned her own ceremony. Like any other student, she had to order her gown. Now she is feeling a growing sense of excitement each time she sees her own name on the graduation list.

“I like coming across my name on the graduation list. I will also get to see my parchment early, too, but I will have to wait until the ceremony to get my hands on it. There are some perks to being in the know.”

But once Rudulier receives her parchment, it will be back to business as usual.

“I am excited to be the busybody backstage like I always am, step in line, cross the stage and go back to my behind-the-scenes work. I think it will be unique experience to have the inside scoop; I just have to make sure I don’t miss my chance to cross.”

Rudulier has worked in her job for nearly five years, and this year’s spring ceremony will mark the 10th convocation cycle she has organized. It will also be the last one that will she do for a while; in the fall, she will welcome her first child with her husband, Adrien, so she will be on leave from her job for a year.

Rudulier will miss co-ordinating all of the convocation details while she is away, but she knows she is leaving the ceremonies in good hands. Her co-workers, who pitch in to make the ceremonies a success each year, will pick up the torch. Like Rudulier, those co-workers will continue to work to enhance the student experience.

“I want family and friends to have the chance to celebrate their graduates, and I also want graduates to feel a sense of accomplishment as they hear their name and cross the stage,” she said. “A university degree is no small feat. It is about celebration of years of hard work.”

Shannon Boklaschuk is a communications co-ordinator in Student and Enrolment Services Division. She will be attending a convocation ceremony on June 4 to receive her Master of Public Administration degree from the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the U of S.

Statement from the U of S Board of Governors: Changes to university leadership

Today the University of Saskatchewan Board of Governors announced the termination, without cause, of the appointment of Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac as President and Vice-Chancellor, effective immediately. She is eligible to take up her faculty post in the university’s College of Engineering.

In the wake of an ongoing reputational crisis related to recent leadership decisions, the Board met on May 19, 2014, and determined that further due diligence was required. The board has since gathered more information and has deliberated again. The board feels strongly that the university’s ongoing operations and its reputational rebuilding efforts will be more effective with new leadership.

It was a painful week for the University of Saskatchewan. Many students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the U of S, and the people of the province generally, were dismayed by news emerging from the campus over the last seven days. The board was deeply troubled by this situation and committed itself to repairing the university’s reputation.

The board has named Dr. Gordon Barnhart as the Acting President of the University of Saskatchewan. The board has every confidence that Dr. Barnhart will provide strong leadership at this critical time in the university’s history. He comes to the post with five decades of history with the university. The board is very pleased that Dr. Barnhart has accepted this acting role. He will begin in the acting role on May 22, 2014.

The board would also like to state in the strongest possible terms, that the University of Saskatchewan is committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression. It would also like to stress that it believes that tenure is a sacrosanct principle within this university.

Finally, the Board of Governors at the University of Saskatchewan continues to be strongly committed to the goal of financial sustainability and renewal.

Details regarding searches for both president and provost will be announced at a later date.

– 30 –

Biography of Gordon Barnhart
As a well-known historian, Barnhart  completed his BA (’66) in history at the U of S, and, after completing a masters degree at the University of Regina, returned to the U of S to complete his PhD in history (’98). From 2000 to 2005, he served as the University Secretary, and later taught political studies and history classes in the College of Arts and Science. Since 2012, Dr. Barnhart has been an adjunct professor in the College of Arts and Science, Department of History. Gordon Barnhart was the twentieth Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, a post to which he was appointed in August 2006.  Prior to this, Barnhart served in a range of provincial and federal government positions, including Clerk of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly and Clerk of the Senate.

Graham family celebrates three iron rings

Nolan, Ron and Jim Graham display their iron rings. Photo by Kate Blau.

Nolan, Ron and Jim Graham display their iron rings. Photo by Kate Blau.

Three generations of Graham family civil engineers were together in Saskatoon on March  29 for Kipling Camp #4’s Iron Ring Ceremony, held at TCU Place. Ron Graham joined his youngest son, Jim, and grandson, Nolan, who both received their iron rings. The Corporation of the Seven Wardens and 26 Kipling Camps across Canada started and maintain the tradition of bestowing iron rings on engineers who commit to upholding a high standard of professional conduct.

“This is something that happens once in a lifetime,” Ron said of the special occasion for his family. “It started with Nolan’s choice to take engineering and continue a family tradition.”

Ron’s father, Peter Graham (BE’34), also graduated from civil engineering at the U of S, making Nolan the fourth generation of Grahams to study this field and receive the iron ring.

Nolan is in his final year of Civil Engineering at the U of S College of Engineering. His uncle, Jim, completed civil engineering at the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom about 20 years ago and has been living and working there ever since. The UK doesn’t have an iron ring ceremony, but he is now working in Canada and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to get his iron ring together with his nephew.

“I’m getting involved in some of the family business interests in Canada. It made sense to get my iron ring now, too,” he explained.

In addition to the significant moment for his family, Nolan appreciated the ceremony, describing it as “a bit eerie. It was a cool experience, really special.” He added, “The emotions of the grads—you could feel it—ran high today.”

Nolan is joining the family business shortly after graduation this year, moving to Calgary and working from Graham’s corporate head office there. He will start out focused in the area of construction and project management. First, though, he has about a month of travel planned to Greece and Spain. After the rigours of his civil engineering studies, it’s safe to say he’s earned this break.

“Engineering is a lot of hard work,” he said emphatically. “In the end, though, it’s worth it. You gain so much knowledge and confidence. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Ron Graham (BE’62) is Chairman of Graham Group Ltd., an employee-owned construction solutions partner organization active across North America. He and wife Jane Graham are enthusiastic and involved supporters of the College of Engineering and the University of Saskatchewan. Ron was the college’s 2012 C.J. Mackenzie Distinguished Graduate Lecturer and following that was inducted to the College of Engineering Alumni Wall of Distinction. In the spring of 2013, he received an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

The Ron and Jane Graham School of Professional Development at the college is substantial evidence of the couple’s commitment to the college, the university and the engineering profession. The school exemplifies their interest in mentorship of young engineers to help them through life past graduation. A desire to support engineering students and working engineers in developing skills like communication and entrepreneurship led to the creation of the school.  Ron and Jane enjoy an active involvement in the school, meeting annually with the dean and school leaders to discuss planning and activities.

Nolan benefited from studies at the Graham school while in engineering, and said of that experience, “It helped me realize how important communication skills are to success in this work. The public speaking and presentations we had to do—I know that will help me in my career.”

Life for these three members of the Graham family, though their homes are spread across two continents and three countries, follows a similar pattern. All three joke that home is—or will be shortly in Nolan’s case—on an airplane. There will be no follow-up celebration to the morning’s iron ring ceremony; Ron and Jim must get to the airport to board separate planes heading off in different directions.

Kate Blau is the communications officer for the U of S College of Engineering.

U of S alumni make Future 40


UPDATED: April 7, 2014

CBC Saskatchewan’s Future 40 list for 2014 includes 16 U of S alumni and three current students. Congratulations to:

Katrina German, BA’00
Marty Seymour, BSA’98
Simon Bird, BEd’03, MEd’11
Angela Gardiner, BE’00, MSc’02
Jacqueline Cook, BComm’13
Nicole Sarauer, JD’09
Dan Robinson, BComm’07
Chad Fischl, BComm’07
Jason Aebig, BA’99
Jennifer Pereira, BA’01, LLB’03
Tom Regier, BE’01, MSc’04, PhD’13
DeeAnn Mercier, BA’07
Candace Bloomquist, PhD’11
Mairin Loewen, MA’13
Aqeel Wahab, BComm’03
Matt Love, BEd’11
Max FineDay, U of S student and current USSU president
Erica Lee, U of S student
Alicia Thatcher, U of S student

See the complete list

Integrating culture, tradition and … math

Stavros Stavrou, 2014 recipient of the USSU Young Alumni Excellence Award

Stavros Stavrou, 2014 recipient of the USSU Young Alumni Excellence Award

With the simple logic and efficiency you would expect from a mathematician, Stavros Stavrou (BSc’10, MSc’12) explained that if you want to teach math, you should study math and education.

“I was always good at math, and I like to teach,” said Stavrou, the 2014 recipient of the USSU Young Alumni Excellence Award.

Having already obtained his bachelors and master of science degrees in mathematics from the U of S, Stavrou is now working toward a master of education degree in hopes of earning a university faculty position.

Stavrou is already well on his way in his teaching career. As the science outreach leader for PotashCorp’s Kameskenow program and for the College of Arts and Science’s outreach office, he helps deliver fun and engaging math and science activities. His job is to keep students at Saskatoon community schools on task and focused, which can require a fresh outlook on traditional teaching and an innovative approach to its delivery.

He is also the First Nations, Inuit and Métis math outreach coordinator for the Department of Mathematics at the U of S, teaching math in Saskatoon community schools that have a broad range of students.

How is teaching math to Aboriginal students different? “It’s approaching things from a different perspective. They have ways of living and knowing that are different, that aren’t necessarily a western perspective.” So, to make lessons interesting and relatable takes a unique approach.

“I lift things from their culture that they would be familiar with. So, in geometry, for shapes we can relate to a tipi—the base is a circle, and the object is a cone. Or the medicine wheel, which is a circle; so we’re connecting with their tradition.”

Stavrou works closely with teachers, elders and other community leaders to create activities and lesson plans that connect the math curriculum to traditional First Nations, Inuit and Métis teaching and culture.

With the help of Cree teacher Norma Bear (BEd’93), Stavrou is not just incorporating symbols and traditions into teaching. The pair is working together to incorporate Cree language into the math program at St. Frances School in Saskatoon. Their work was showcased at a First Nation’s Language Keepers Conference in 2013, and Stavrou was awarded a certificate for his work as a language keeper.

“We’re learning to count in Cree, to know the different Cree characters for the numerals,” said Stavrou. “It expands their language and what they know about their culture. I’ve started saying them too, but I don’t know all of them yet.” And the children point out he has a different accent.

Demand for Stavrou to be in more classrooms is growing, and he is confident the temporary funding will continue to allow more instructors to work with more teachers in more schools. And they may just inspire the next generation of students who are good math and enjoy teaching.

Stavrou will receive his award at the annual USSU award reception on March 30.

Learn more about the USSU Young Alumni Excellence Award

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