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Vol 39  No 3
Sept. 21, 2006



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Quarter century of honouring special graduates

Tribute to alumni

by Wade Kearley

Each year, for the past quarter century, the Alumni Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland has singled out a few of its many remarkable graduates for special recognition. This year the association will honour 10 outstanding alumni with five special awards at its 25th Alumni Tribute Awards to be held at the R. Gushue Hall, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006.

Tribute co-chairs Nath Sheppard and Heidi Janes recently released the names of this year’s recipients. Businessman and telecommunications pioneer Frank Fagan will receive the alumni association’s highest honour, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Outstanding military physician Dr. Nick Withers will accept the Horizon Award for achievement under age 35 years. Educator and Memorial University volunteer Dr. Georgina Hedges will receive the J. D. Eaton Award for outstanding volunteer service to Memorial University. And national literacy advocate Bessie Merrigan will receive the Outstanding Community Service Award. Receiving the first ever Luminus Award, created especially for the 25th anniversary celebration, will be the Brad Gushue Curling Team including honorary doctors Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Mike Adams, Jamie Korab, Russ Howard, and coach Toby McDonald.

Mr. Sheppard says the association is proud of the outstanding alumni who have accepted the award over the years.

“Included among those recipients are some of the most outstanding individuals in the history of the province and the country. And every year the selection becomes more difficult,” he said. With close to 60,000 graduates from Memorial, many of whom play significant roles in all sectors of the political, medical, research, business and volunteer sectors, he said he doesn’t expect the task to become any easier.

Each year there are candidates, among those nominated to receive an award, who stand out for any number of reasons said Ms. Janes. “Both Nath and I, and the entire alumni executive, feel privileged to be able to present these awards to a group of people who are remarkable as this year’s recipients.”

They both recommend that any group or individual who wants to attend the event should call the office of Alumni Affairs and Development as soon as possible to reserve tickets. “At $60 per person these tickets are a great value, but people must order them in advance of the event,” adds Ms. Janes.

Faculty and staff interested in purchasing tickets to the event should contact the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development: 737-4354, 1-877-700-4081 or e-mail

Lifetime Achievement Award
Frank F. Fagan, BA’79, MBA’82

A leader and pioneer in Canada’s telecommunications industry, Frank Fagan rose from his first job as a 17-year-old lineman with Newfoundland Telephone to become chief operating officer of one of North America’s largest regional telecommunications organizations ­ Bell Aliant. And he earned his BA and MBA from Memorial along the way. He oversaw the creation of the province’s multi-billion dollar communications and information technology network, employing thousands of people in the process and personally encouraging and inspiring many to acquire the relevant skills, knowledge and expertise to achieve excellence.

For his visionary intelligence, his remarkable career and his service to the community, Frank Fagan is the recipient of the 2006 Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Alumni Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Horizon Award
Maj. Nick Withers, B.Med.Sc.’94, MD’96

Maj. Nick Withers is the Canadian Forces Senior Medical Authority in Germany and oversees Aeromedical Evacuation operations through Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre. Recruited into the military while a medical student at Memorial, this native of Paradise soon caught the attention of his employer for his abilities as an excellent physician and a skilled administrator. Early in his military career he was stationed as head of medical staff in Goose Bay. Subsequently, he was re-assigned as physician to a counter-terrorist unit. And immediately prior to his posting to Germany, he was senior physician and Commanding Officer of a multi-disciplinary health care facility in Comox, B.C.

J. D. Eaton Award
Dr. Georgina Ann Hedges, BA(Ed.)’74, BA’78

Since 1997, Dr. Georgina Hedges she has been a leading volunteer on the Board of Regents, the university’s governing body, where she has worked closely with senior administration in such challenging areas as budget and government relations. In 2001 she accepted the role of vice-chair with the Board. For the period 2003-04, Dr. Hedges served the demanding role as acting chair of the Board of Regents, a job which she undertook with energy, dignity and thoughtful intelligence. And, because of her extensive leadership experience, she was once again called on to serve as acting chair in February 2006.

Outstanding Community Service Award
Bessie Merrigan, BA(Ed.)’86, BA’94, M.Ed.’01

For the past 30 years Bessie Merrigan has been a leading advocate in the promotion of literacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her outstanding volunteer service in the field of literacy has garnered several awards including a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Volunteer Award in 1990. Ms. Merrigan has served on the provincial executive of Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council including two years as president. She’s been involved with the Humber Literacy council since 1989 and served as president of the local council for five years. Her extensive involvement with Laubach Literacy of Canada includes five years on the national board. She returned to the board in 2003 to serve as national president. She is now leading the restructuring of the organization.

2006 Luminus Award
Team Gushue Curling Team:
Brad Gushue, BBA’04, LLD’06; Mark Nichols, B.Kin.’05, LLD’06; Mike Adam, LLD’06; Jamie Korab, LLD’06; Russ Howard, LLD’06; and Toby McDonald, BA’72, LLD’06

When Brad Gushue threw the last rock in the final end of the curling champion ship at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, he and his team reached the pinnacle of their sport: Olympic Champions. Their victory was also a new plateau for Memorial alumni. That accomplishment, in the 25th year of the Alumni Tribute Awards, prompted the Alumni Association to name the entire team as the recipients of the first-ever Luminus Award. This special tribute was created to honour those alumni for exceptional achievements that fall outside the parameters of the other Alumni Tribute awards.


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