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SUBJECT: Recipients announced for the 25th Annual Memorial Alumni Tribute Awards
DATE: Sept. 8, 2006

Ten outstanding alumni of Memorial University of Newfoundland will be recognized for their achievements at the 25th Annual Alumni Tribute Awards on Thursday, Oct. 26 2006. 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 senior Memorial University volunteer Dr. Georgina Hedges will receive the J. D. Eaton Award for outstanding volunteer service to Memorial University; national literacy advocate Bessie Merrigan will receive the Outstanding Community Service Award; and the Brad Gushue Curling Team-Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Mike Adams, Jamie Korab and Russ Howard, and their coach Toby McDonald, -- will receive the first ever Luminus Award. All of these recipients were revealed today by the Alumni Tribute Awards co-chairs Nath Sheppard and Heidi Janes.
Alumni Tribute Awards will be presented during a gala evening at the R. Gushue Hall in St. John’s, sponsored by the Alumni Association and Memorial University.
Mr. Sheppard said that they are very proud of the 25th anniversary. “For a quarter century now the Alumni Association of Memorial University has recognized excellence among its peers. 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.
Ms. Janes pointed out that, each year, there are candidates among those nominated for the awards who stand out for any number of reasons. And, she said, this year’s recipients are exceptional. “Both Nath and I, and indeed the entire alumni executive, are very proud to be able to present these awards to such a remarkable group of people.”
The co-chairs emphasized the fact that the Tribute Awards event is an exciting part of MUNdays festivities each October. The gala includes a welcoming reception, a four-course dinner, musical entertainment, and the awards presentation. Ms. Janes noted that the Tribute Awards are a great opportunity to catch up with friends, meet recent and long-time graduates and friends of Memorial, and to recognize a group of very special people. “Their commitment to excellence is a source of pride for everyone who has an affinity for Memorial University,” she said.
Mr. Sheppard recommended that anyone who wants to ensure a ticket for the event should call the office of Alumni Affairs and Development as soon as possible to reserve her or his place.
At $60 per person the tickets are a great value, and are only available in advance,” said Mr. Sheppard. To purchase tickets call 737-4354, 1-877-700-4081 or e-mail rsvpalumni@mun.ca.
 
BIOGRAPHIES OF RECIPIENTS AND AWARD CRITERIA BELOW
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NOTE TO EDITORS:
MEDIA CONTACT: Wade Kearley, communications co-ordinator, Alumni Affairs and Development, Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, 20 Lambe’s Lane, St. John’s, 709-737-2620, wkearley@mun.ca.
   
Alumni Association of MemorialUniversity of Newfoundland
 
2006 Alumni Tribute Awards
Lifetime Achievement Award -- 2006
Frank F. Fagan, BA’79, MBA’82
The telecommunications industry has radically transformed itself in the 40 years since Frank Fagan first started with Newfoundland Telephone as a 17-year-old lineman. And it would be fair to say that Mr. Fagan, too, has undergone a remarkable transformation in his personal and professional life.
One of Frank Fagan’s strongest traits is his willingness to embrace change, strategic change that is. A leader and pioneer in Canada’s telecommunications industry, he rose from his grassroots beginnings to become chief operating officer of one of North America’s largest regional telecommunications organizations – Bell Aliant. And he earned his B.A. and MBA from Memorial along the way.
As a professional, Mr. Fagan was keenly aware of the potential of telecommunications and technology. 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.
Under his leadership, Newfoundland and Labrador’s communications utilities have partnered with Memorial University on projects such as the Telemedicine Centre, Engineering’s Telecommunications Chair and the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications.
Mr. Fagan’s remarkable professional career is complemented by his generosity as a humanitarian. He volunteers his time and expertise to serve many organizations, including a 25-plus year relationship with the TelecomPioneers of America. As president of that 620,000-member organization from 2001 to 2003,
he carried out visionary change ensuring the organization’s ongoing sustainability amid much industry change. Today, among his other volunteer roles, Frank is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Health Care Foundation of St. John’s.
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 -- 2006 (for outstanding achievement age 35 years or under)
Major Nick Withers, B.Med.Sc.’94,M.D.’96
As injuries to Canadian soldiers mount in Afghanistan, one Memorial alumnus plays a lead role in national emergency response efforts to bring injured Canadian soldiers home safely. Major Nick Withers, B.Med.Sc.’94,M.D.’96, is the Canadian Forces senior medical authority in Germany. He oversees aeromedical evacuation operations through Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Posted to this NATO base on the Dutch/German border in 2005, Nick leads a small Canadian clinic where he is a physician to 750 Canadians, and facilitates care for another 850 Canadians posted in 22 European locations. Staff at the clinic are also responsible for receiving medical evacuations from the Middle East through Ramstein, the large U.S. military base three hours drive from Dr. Withers’ home in Geilenkirchen.
Recruited into the Canadian military while at Memorial’s medical school, this native of Paradise soon caught the attention of his employer because of 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, BC.
His continuing specialization in emergency medicine led to two special assignments as physician to the Prime Minister including one stint during the 60th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. “It was very moving to be there as the veterans walked down the beach again,” recalls Dr. Withers.
 
J. D. Eaton Award -- 2006
Dr. Georgina Ann Hedges, BA (Ed.)’74, BA’78
Few alumni volunteers have demonstrated more commitment to Memorial University of Newfoundland in the past decade than Dr. Georgina Hedges. Since 1997 she has been a leading volunteer on the Board of Regents, the university’s governing body.
As a leading volunteer at Memorial, she has worked closely with senior administration in such challenging areas as budget and government relations. She plays a key role at the most senior level of university governance. 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.
Dr. Hedges’ volunteer role is a natural evolution of her 30-year career in education—for which she has been recognized with several awards. She completed four post secondary degrees in education from 1974 to 1994.
Her devotion to improving the education and the career opportunities of thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as a volunteer in the service of Memorial University, makes Dr. Hedges a role model for those who believe in the value of giving back to Memorial.
Dr. Hedges is an alumna of whom Memorial University can be very proud as she accepts the 2006 J. D. Eaton Award for exceptional volunteer service to Memorial University.
 
Outstanding Community Service Award – 2006
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 became involved as a literacy volunteer when, as a schoolteacher, she discovered that many of her young students could read better than their parents. She soon began teaching adults to read around her kitchen table. Since then she has voluntarily devoted much of her time and energy to promoting literacy at the local, provincial and national levels.
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.
She has been described as the driving force behind the formation of Books for Babies and its expansion to other areas of the province. For many years she chaired this preschool literacy program, volunteered in hospitals and served on the advisory committee. She is also an involved volunteer on the Literacy Development Council.
For her volunteer work in the service of her greatest passion, literacy, Bessie Merrigan has been named by the Alumni Association of Newfoundland as the 2006 recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award.
 
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.
At this year’s Alumni Tribute Awards the newly-minted honorary graduates of Memorial, Dr. Brad Gushue, BBA.’04, Dr. Mark Nichols, B.Kin.’05, Dr. Mike Adam, Dr. Jamie Korab, Dr. Russ Howard and coach Dr. Toby McDonald, B.A.’72, will be awarded the first-ever Luminus Award.

The award is given in recognition of their remarkable skill and determination. They overcame personal, physical and financial challenges to build what has been described as the “best prepared men’s curling team to play the game at the Olympic level.”

Their victory is a credit to the team, and is a source of pride for Memorial alumni wherever they may be.
 
Alumni Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland
2006 Alumni Tribute Awards
Alumni Tribute Awards Criteria
This is the 25th year that the Alumni Association of Memorial University has recognized excellence among its peers. Newly expanded in 2002, the Alumni Tribute Awards are designed to increase the level of recognition for a greater number of the outstanding women and men who are Memorial University’s alumni. The four awards include:
 
Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement
This is the award of highest distinction that the alumni association can offer to one of its own. It was formerly known as the Alumnus/a of the Year award. Recipients of the award have achieved distinction in a chosen field of endeavour; have made an outstanding contribution in their field; have made a contribution to the Alumni Association, Memorial University, and the community at large; and have displayed exceptional human values that are an inspiration to those with whom they come in contact.
Alumni Horizon Award honours young alumni with a record of extraordinary professional, community, alumni or academic achievement. Recipients of the award are 35 years of age or younger and have attained one or all of the following accomplishments: achieved distinction in a chosen field of endeavour; made an outstanding contribution in their field; made a contribution to the Alumni Association, to Memorial University, or to the community at large; and displayed exceptional human values that are an inspiration to others.
J. D. Eaton Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to the Memorial. Recipients of the award have demonstrated exceptional leadership and outstanding service to Memorial University of Newfoundland or to the Alumni Association. Recipients have also participated in activities that enhance the stature, reputation, and strength of the university, and the Alumni Association.
Alumni Award for Outstanding Community Service acknowledges alumni who have given of themselves to improve the lives of people and their communities. Recipients of this award will have demonstrated exceptional community/volunteer service at home or abroad that has made a difference to the well-being of others.
Luminus Award will be awarded for the first time in 2006. It was created by the Alumni Association executive to call attention to outstanding alumni achievements that fall outside the parameters of existing Tribute Awards, but nevertheless deserve special recognition by fellow alumni.

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