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Hundreds gather in Calgary to celebrate Memorial

Premier Danny Williams and Dr. Christopher Loomis talk with Dr. John C.S. Lau at the Calgary Affinity.

By Bojan Fürst

It was a true who’s-who-in-the-energy-sector event.

Canada’s top energy executives, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the president of Memorial University gathered June 2 at a sold-out dinner celebrating all things Newfoundland and Labrador – especially Memorial.

Along with Premier Danny Williams and Dr. Christopher Loomis, the president pro tempore of Memorial, more than 300 alumni and friends attended the fourth annual Calgary Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Dinner.

In his address, Dr. Loomis thanked the guests — and especially the organizing committee – for their support of Memorial University.

“In this room today, we have national, if not international, leadership of the energy sector. You have been steadfast supporters of Memorial University – not just as financial contributors, but also as employers and mentors of our co-op students,” Dr. Loomis said.

Guests celebrated the province and Memorial while raising more than $70,000 in scholarship funds for Memorial students.

Dr. John C.S. Lau, president and chief executive officer of Husky Energy and a recipient of an honorary degree from Memorial University, was presented with a gift of appreciation for his longstanding support of the university.

“Dr. Lau has been a committed supporter of Memorial, and of Newfoundland and Labrador,” Dr. Loomis said. “We are truly appreciative of his efforts, which have created a lasting legacy at our province’s university.”

Dr. Lau has been instrumental in supporting oil and gas research at Memorial and, in 2003, announced the university’s first endowed chair position through a $2 million endowment on behalf of Husky. This support was accompanied by a further $500,000 donation to Memorial.

Premier Williams, himself an alumnus of Memorial, greeted the guests on behalf of the province and underlined Memorial’s successes.

“I could not be prouder of Memorial and the groundbreaking work it is doing in so many disciplines – among them engineering, science, marine technology, medicine, the arts, business administration,” Premier Williams told the large group gathered at the Calgary Petroleum Club. “We are attracting students from around the world to enjoy the tutelage of some of the most gifted faculty in their respective fields.”

Dr. Loomis also took the opportunity to remind guests that Memorial University of Newfoundland will greet Dr. Gary Kachanoski, a renowned soil scientist, as Memorial’s new president effective July 1.

The Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Dinners are Memorial University’s premier alumni event. The dinners take place annually in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. A group of dedicated alumni living and working in Calgary organize the dinner. Calgary-based WestJet is the event's main sponsor with more than 20 corporate sponsors making the event possible including Johnson Inc., Newfoundland and Labrador Human Resources and Labor and Employment and Nalcor Energy.

Over the years, thousands of alumni have attended the dinners across the country demonstrating their support for Memorial students and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sprit of Newfoundland provided entertainment for the event, while comedian Jonny Harris was the master of ceremonies.