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Getting ready to pay tribute

Last year’s Alumni Tribute Award winners, from left, Dr. Max House, Vanessa Donnelly, Gary Peddle and Leonard Vassallo.

By David Penney

February is the time of year when the office of Alumni Affairs and Development at Memorial makes the call for Alumni Tribute Award nominations. Even though the awards ceremony is months away, the nomination call marks the real beginning of this annual event, and it is always a critical first step.

Director of Alumni Affairs and Development, Dr. Penny Blackwood, stresses the importance of alumni and friends getting involved in the nomination process.
“We know about many of the incredible things our alumni are doing – but it’s impossible to know everything. There are exceptional Memorial alumni close to home and all over the world, and we rely on our network of alumni and friends to help us stay informed,” said Dr. Blackwood. “The fact that the nominations come from the former classmates and colleagues of our honourees is what really makes these awards special.”

Brian King, vice president of marketing from Johnson Insurance, is the chair of the awards selection committee and he points out the increasingly high profile that has become synonymous with the Tribute Awards.

“It is incredible to think that 2011 will mark the 30th Annual Alumni Tribute Awards ceremony. That alone is a remarkable accomplishment. But when you go back through the list of past winners, you see names of people who have been and continue to be leaders on a local, national and international level.”

There are four different award categories. Alumna or Alumnus of the Year Award is the highest honour the association can bestow on a graduate and it recognizes exceptional individual achievements. The Outstanding Community Service Award acknowledges alumni who have given of themselves to improve the lives of people and their communities while the JD Eaton Award recognizes leadership and outstanding contributions to Memorial University. The Horizon Award honours young alumni who have realized extraordinary achievements before the age of 35.

Mr. King noted the sense of pride that accompanies his involvement in the Alumni Tribute Awards.

“For me, it’s a real thrill to learn about the outstanding people who represent Memorial University and Newfoundland and Labrador, and they exist across distinctions of age, gender, professional and academic backgrounds. The common thread is that all of these individuals make incredibly positive contributions to their communities.”

Dr. Blackwood agreed, and in doing so, restated how important it was for alumni to get in touch via the nomination process.

“The help of our alumni is what makes this a true celebration, and the nomination process is easy. Visiting our website and filling out the online form only takes a few minutes, but it can result in a life changing experience for an honouree,” she said. “The awards are a source of pride that we all share as part of the Memorial community. That’s what makes the nomination effort so worthwhile.”

Nominations are now being accepted and can be made by anyone. For more information, or to submit a nomination, visit or call 1-877-700-4081.

The deadline for receipt of nominations is April 29, 2011.