Alumni Awards

2016 Nominations Open

University of Alberta alumni around the globe uphold our promise to “uplift the whole people” through their actions. The University of Alberta Alumni Awards recognize these acts and celebrate the outstanding achievements of our alumni.

Nomination Deadline:
December 15, 2015

Submit Online Nomination

Register to submit a nomination online.

2015 Awards Recipients

Alumni are one of the greatest assets of the University of Alberta. Their many diverse contributions to the community uphold the University’s tradition of excellence and promise of “uplifting the whole people.” The University of Alberta Alumni Awards recognize these acts and celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni in seven categories.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Alumni Association’s most prestigious award recognizing living graduates whose outstanding achievements have earned them national and/or international prominence.

Harold I. Eist, ’61 MD, works in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychoanalysis. He uses his more than 50 years of medical practice to help the disadvantaged.

His clinical work has included 25 years leading a clinic for Washington, D.C.’s most underprivileged community, where he treated ill and dangerous patients who were both children and adults. He was thus named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine in 1979. Eist turned the clinic into the major private resource for the District of Columbia’s mentally ill, and it subsequently received the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Award.

Eist’s leadership roles have included acting as president of the American Psychiatric Association and as the North American board representative of the World Psychiatric Association. He has written hundreds of journal articles, newspaper columns and book chapters. Eist’s professional experience has led to him providing testimony before United States senate and congressional committees, and to giving expert comment to news media, including Washington Post, New York Times, 60 Minutes, 20/20 and CBS Evening News.

Tim Melton, ’69 BCom, is a real estate developer who has been building communities throughout Alberta for more than 45 years. Born in London, England, he grew up in Edmonton and attended St. Joseph’s High School. He is the executive chairman of Melcor Developments Ltd. and has been involved in all aspects of the real estate business. Melton Real Estate began in 1923 as a family real estate brokerage business. Through adherence to traditional business values and the skill and dedication of Melton, his father and his grandfather, Melcor has grown and prospered from its Edmonton roots. Recently, Melton and Melcor Developments provided the major support for the Stan Melton Chair in Real Estate at the Alberta School of Business. Melton strongly believes in community involvement and leadership. He is currently the director of the Edmonton YMCA Foundation and a member of the board of governors for Junior Achievement of Northern Alberta. He is the father of four children, a keen golfer and an avid sportsman.

Dan Riskin, ’97 BSc, was born at the University of Alberta Hospital in 1975. He grew up in Edmonton and did his undergraduate degree at the U of A from 1993 to 1997. There, he found a passion for bats that propelled him through graduate school (’00 MSc, York; ’06 PhD, Cornell) and into biomechanics research.

While working at Brown University, Riskin started doing science outreach on TV, including a show about parasites called Monsters Inside Me, which led to regular guest appearances on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. In 2011, he left academics to become co-host of Discovery Canada’s flagship science program Daily Planet, where he has worked ever since. His natural enthusiasm and passion for science make him an accessible, enjoyable host.

Riskin continues his research with an adjunct professorship at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and his first popular book, Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You, was released last year. Riskin lives in Toronto with his wife Shelby and their three kids.

Francis M. Saville, ’62 BA, ’65 LLB spent many successful years in energy and environmental law and then branched out into the business world. He was a director of Mullen Transportation from 1993 to 2005 and a director of Nexen Inc. from 1995 to 2013, including seven years as chair of the board.

Saville’s belief in contributing to the community was evident starting in his undergrad days. As student union president, Saville, along with many others, was instrumental in the planning, financing and constructing of the Students’ Union building—a completely student-led project that was reported in the Oct. 27, 1967, issue of Time magazine.

Saville’s volunteer work has ranged from being a board member and chairman of his local community, the Springbank Park for All Seasons, to being a director of STARS air ambulance for eight years and volunteer chairman of Canada Olympic Park for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. He was a founding member and director of the Canadian Institute of Resources Law at the University of Calgary and chair of the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific. He currently volunteers with the Global Leadership Foundation.

Saville and his wife Linda—whom he met in the Rutherford Library in 1961—now spend much of their time enjoying their children and grandchildren, as well as their motorhome and property at Gull Lake.

Alumni Honour Award

Recognizing the significant contributions made over a number of years by University of Alberta alumni in their local communities and beyond.

Alan Fielding Alan D. Fielding, ’65 BA, ’69 LLB, was honoured with a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2014 for his significant contributions to local and international causes. A founding partner of Fielding & Co. LLP, Fielding held numerous positions with the Law Society of Alberta and the Legal Education Society of Alberta. He has served as president of the Vision Credit Union for decades. Fielding, a longtime Rotarian, lives by the Rotary motto Service Above Self. He is active not only in his community but also in his church and the university. A longtime advocate for mental health, he served for 19 years as chair of the Central Alberta Mental Health Review Panel and currently serves on the Alberta Review Board. Music is Fielding’s great love, and he has long been a performer and a supporter of the Camrose and Edmonton music scenes.

Todd Hirsch Todd Hirsch, ’89 BA(Hons), is an economist who is passionate about breaking down the numbers to tell the story of the economy. He explores the connection between the economy and the role of arts and creativity, and thus has been called an economic philosopher who sees Alberta’s vast potential. Hirsch is the chief economist with ATB Financial and a contributing writer with the Globe and Mail. He held positions with the Canada West Foundation, Canadian Pacific Railway and the Bank of Canada, and he taught economics at the University of Calgary for more than a decade. Hirsch serves on the Alberta Economic Development Authority. For his significant community involvement, he was honoured with the federal government’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. His 2012 book The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada From Economic Decline, further reflects his interest in the role of arts and culture within innovation and the economy.

Frank Jenkins, ’66 BEd, ’71 MEd, ’87 PhD, is a science educator and an enthusiastic advocate for science education who spent more than 40 years inspiring young minds. His philosophy of teaching students to test and explore rather than simply memorize procedures made him a beloved teacher to many. He taught high school chemistry for more than 30 years, spent more than 10 years as a university instructor in the U of A’s Faculty of Education until his retirement in 2011, and led the faculty’s CMASTE (Centre for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education). Jenkins further shared his wealth of experience by writing innovative textbooks. His achievements have been recognized with the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence and the ATA Science Award for Distinguished Service. He has devoted time to the ATA Edmonton Chemistry Council. Innovations include syntheses of natures of science as create-test-use-and-falsify laboratory work, of classroom ways of presenting evidence, and of criteria for evaluating claims to scientific knowledge. Jenkins has participated in workshops and projects around the world, and his influence on teachers and students from near and far shows what passion, innovation and dedication can do.

Oryssia Lennie Oryssia Lennie, ’69 BA, has more than 35 years’ experience in constitutional and public policy development and administration with the provincial and federal governments. Lennie’s early career years were spent on Peter Lougheed’s team, and she was part of the delegations leading up to the Constitution Act of 1982 and the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords. She was also the secretary to the Alberta Senate reform task force established by Don Getty and served as the deputy minister of federal and intergovernmental affairs and deputy minister for Western Economic Diversification Canada. Lennie’s awards include the Peter Lougheed Award for Leadership in Public Policy and the Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal for Excellence in Public Service. In 2009, she retired from the public stage but is still inspired to help make the world a better place. She is a longtime champion of the United Way, and her community involvement has included University of Alberta positions as well as sitting on the board for the Canada West Foundation. She is currently chair of the Alberta Research and Innovation Authority.

Shar Levine Shar Levine, ’74 BA, is an award­ winning writer and designer of science books for children. Her commitment to encouraging science literacy and her ability to make science fun for kids is evident in the more than 60 titles that bear her name and that of her writing partner, Leslie Johnstone. Levine owned a toy store in Vancouver called Einstein’s the Science Center, and there she taught hands-­on science to kids. She also spent time as a columnist and TV consumer expert until 2006, when her children’s books became her main focus. Often described by friends and colleagues as a woman with infectious energy and creativity, Levine also connects with people through public appearances and her website, She currently sits on local and national literary and literacy boards. She co­created Celebrate Science, the first Canadian science writer’s festival. Her ability to share her passion for science education and engage students in everything from the biochemistry of fermentation to the science of sensory perception makes her books a favourite on the shelves of public libraries and kids’ cubbies.

Krista Monson Krista Monson, ’91 BA, flexes her creative muscle as “conceptor” and stage director for the world renowned Cirque du Soleil. She began her career in Canada, combining dance, music, theatre and athleticism with musical theatre and international special events. She was the principal choreographer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Athletics and was featured in a 2012 CNN series entitled Leading Women. Her first position with Cirque was as artistic director of O and she then moved on to be casting director for the circus’s resident shows worldwide. One of Monson’s most rewarding experiences was conceiving and directing One Night for One Drop, a global philanthropic event to help provide access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries. The show raised more than $2 million. Monson serves on voluntary boards, including advisory boards at Chapman University and the Canadian College of Performing Arts. She is also a proud member of the Académie Francophone de Las Vegas.

Thomas Morimoto Thomas E. Morimoto, ’49 BSc(ChemEng), ’52 MSc is a pioneer of the energy industry. After working as a radio operator for Canadian Airways in the world of famous northern bush pilots, joining the 1930s gold frenzy in the Northwest Territories and participating in the D-Day invasion as a member of the Canadian Army, Morimoto completed his engineering education. He worked in Canada’s construction and engineering sectors before moving overseas and spending a decade in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, managing a world-scale gas project. He retired and left Dubai in 1987 and has continued to participate in U of A alumni life from his home in Kelowna, B.C. In 2007, Morimoto published his memoir titled Breaking Trails: From Canada’s Northern Frontier to the Oil Fields of Dubai.

Alfred Nikolai Alfred Nikolai, ’73 BPE, has dedicated his life to the health and well-being of people and communities. After completing his university education, Nikolai was a teacher in Labrador. He developed programs to help his students be healthy and active, and he worked with the military to provide outdoor survival training. He followed this career with 19 years as a civil servant in roles related to recreation and active living. Nikolai’s career then moved to Fairview College and NAIT. He finally turned his attention to Habitat for Humanity. He has spent a decade developing housing for low-income Alberta families and expanding the organization to build more homes and include provincewide partners. His leadership has allowed Habitat to work with businesses, government and volunteers who come together to give people a hand up. Nikolai also includes his alma mater in housing initiatives, and he has taken the lead role with the U of A chapter of Habitat for Humanity. If you see members of the Bears or Pandas teams volunteering on a build, you can bet Nikolai is involved.

Alumni Horizon Award

Celebrating the outstanding achievements of University of Alberta alumni early in their careers.

Saleem Khaldoon Al-Nuaimi Saleem Khaldoon Al-Nuaimi, ’09 BMedSc, ’10 MD, has a passion for psychiatry that knows no borders. After a medical mission to Turkey, he noticed the lack of psychiatric resources for refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. His solution was a telepsychiatry service that allowed him to provide consultation over the Internet. This pilot program has been so successful it has expanded to include six psychiatrists from across North America as well as other mental health professionals. Al-Nuaimi, a psychiatrist specializing in children and adolescents, is also leading efforts to open a mental health facility in northern Syria. Al-Nuaimi serves on the charity board of Life for Relief and Development, and volunteers with the Canadian chapter of the International Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations. He has won a number of undergraduate and graduate awards. His humanitarian philosophy extends outside his school and career, as he volunteers at his community mosque and a youth club.

Vera Caine Vera Caine, ’98 BScN, ’02 MN, ’07 PhD, is an associate professor in the Faculty of Nursing. Her areas of research reflect her interest in cross-disciplinary work and health equity in the areas of indigenous health and HIV infections. Since joining the faculty in 2009, Caine has held numerous operating grants and in 2013 received a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She maintains close relationships with community organizations such as the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, the Mustard Seed, Streetworks and HIV Edmonton. Her research has made significant contributions to narrative inquiry, a qualitative research methodology. She has also worked in supervisory roles with post-doctoral fellows and undergraduate and graduate students in the faculties of nursing, medicine, education and anthropology.

Mary Pinkoski Mary Pinkoski, ’99 BA, ’06 BEd, remembers the first time one of her poems was published. It was five lines about summer camp that was printed in the YWCA parent newsletter. Edmonton’s former poet laureate is a spoken-word educator who knows how putting words together can be transformative. Her skill with words has earned her several honours, including being named in 2013 as Edmonton’s fifth poet laureate. She won the 2008 CBC Poetry Face-Off, took third prize and was the top-ranked female in the 2013 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, and won a 2011 Canadian National Poetry Slam Championship at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, where she was chosen by her colleagues as the most valuable poet. As poet laureate, she became known for her work in making the role visible. She performed at more than 200 public performances and wrote over 30 poems for various organizations across the city, bringing poetry to new spaces. Her legacy project was the creation of a City of Edmonton youth poet laureate position, so that poetic voices of youth would continue to be recognized and honoured in the city.

Kristopher Wells Kristopher Wells, ’94 BEd, ’03 MEd, ’11 PhD, is one of Canada’s leading experts on sexual and gender minority youth. His work has received over 50 awards, including a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, Killam Doctoral Fellowship, and most recently the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Public Education Award. In 2004, Wells co-founded Camp fYrefly, which is Canada’s only national leadership retreat for sexual and gender minority youth. He also helped to create U of A Pride Week and the award-winning, which went viral all over the world. Wells also helped develop ground breaking resources on gay-straight alliances, homophobic and transphobic bullying, and LGBTQ-inclusive policies and legislation for school boards and governments across Canada. Currently, he serves as the book review editor for the International Journal of LGBT Youth and is a board member for REACH Edmonton, a centre for excellence focused on crime prevention and community safety.

Cary Williams Cary Williams, ’03 BCom, is an associate private wealth counsellor who invests in his community not only with his funds but also with his time and energy. He has helped start four non-profit groups, such as 100 Men YEG, an initiative that has gathered support from more than 200 Edmontonians, each of whom has committed to making a quarterly donation of $100 to the Edmonton charity of the group’s choice. Williams was a committee chair with Make Something Edmonton and a co-chair of the City of Edmonton’s NextGen Initiative, for which we was named one of Avenue magazine’s Top 40 Under 40. Williams started a financial advisory practice from scratch, and after five years he managed more than $40 million in assets. He went on to build a new practice focused on client-centred advice backed by academic research. He is a member of Startup Edmonton’s Founders 50, a network of business leaders devoted to creative and entrepreneurial thinking, and the Edmonton chapter of the national Manning Innovation Awards, which recognizes Canadian innovators.

Alumni Innovation Award

The Alumni Innovation Award recognizes University of Alberta alumni that have significantly impacted their profession, community, the U of A, or society at large by developing an innovative program, process or product.

In 1995, two freshly minted University of Alberta-trained doctors parlayed their passion for video games into a billion-dollar business. Ray Muzyka, ’90 BMedSc, ’92 MD, and Greg Zeschuk, ’90 BMedSc, ’92 MD, founded BioWare and quickly became known for creating culturally relevant and artful role-playing games. What started out as a humble company operated out of Zeschuk’s basement evolved into an award-winning juggernaut. BioWare was certainly on the world stage when LucasArts, founded by filmmaker George Lucas, asked the company to create a Star Wars game. In 2004, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic won Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards. Muzyka and Zeschuk were inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 2011. They also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2013.

Muzyka, who received his MBA from the University of Western Ontario (Ivey Business School) in 2001, retired from the video game industry in 2012. He began his next career chapter at ThresholdImpact, focusing on sustainable, profitable impact investing in information technology, new media and medical innovations with social entrepreneurs. He is an active angel investor and mentor to entrepreneurs. Muzyka served on the board of trustees of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation from 2012 to 2015 and is currently a member of the U of A Board of Governors, chair of the U of A’s Venture Mentoring Service, and a venture advisor at iNovia Capital. He is on the board of directors of Athletigen, a sports genetics company that analyzes consumers’ DNA to offer a personalized approach to health and fitness. He is also co-chair and a member of the board of directors of CodeBaby, a web-based agent that helps companies increase online customer engagement.

Zeschuk earned an MBA, from Queen’s University in 2004. He is a co-chair on the board of directors for CodeBaby and chairman of Zeroes 2 Heroes Media, an incubator group that develops new ideas and products annually. He is also wading deep into the world of craft-brewed beer. He is the executive director of the Alberta Small Brewers Association, produces a web-based interview show known as The Beer Diaries and is building a brewpub in the Ritchie neighbourhood of Edmonton.

Alumni Centenary Award

Celebrating alumni who have made an uncommon gift of time, self and energy to the University of Alberta.

Helen Kwan Yee Cheung Helen Kwan Yee Cheung, ’13 MA, has a diverse professional background in business, social work, personnel and intergovernmental relations. She has served in various leadership capacities on many community and business boards. She founded two women’s groups and served as a community volunteer for close to three decades. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2003. She pursued lifelong learning after retirement and received her master of arts degree in East Asian Interdisciplinary Studies with outstanding academic achievement in 2013. In 2014, she volunteered at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library to curate a historical exhibition and produce an accompanying book entitled Painted Faces on the Prairies: Cantonese Opera and the Edmonton Chinese Community. She continues to help the library in collecting archival materials that reflect the Chinese experience in Canada.

Edmonton Levasseur Edmond Levasseur, ’67 BEd, has spent his life working as an educator, notably in the areas of language, culture and international education. His career included work with various school boards and he was an advocate for language education policy and second-language education. He served on the University of Alberta Senate for two terms. Levasseur was a champion and co-chair of U School, a senate initiative that worked to introduce and connect students in grades 4 through 9 to the U of A. He helped introduce and lead U School, which grew from 75 students to more than 850 within six years. He continues to volunteer at U School. As a francophone and former student of College Saint-Jean, Levasseur was a natural as faculty liaison with Campus Saint-Jean. He served that role for six years and continues to promote the campus and attend events. Levasseur was also a dedicated volunteer in Edmonton’s French theatre community. Throughout his career, he has devoted thousands of hours to volunteer work.

Trevor Mak Trevor Mak, ’82 BCom, ’84 MBA, has been a leader of the University of Alberta Alumni Association Hong Kong chapter since 1984. With a busy schedule that includes his family as well as his job managing and developing private banking business for Julius Baer HK, Mak finds time to organize up to six alumni events per year and host University of Alberta visitors when they travel overseas. He notably helped organize a Hockey Night in Hong Kong theme week for 19 Alberta oil companies arriving for a seminar at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange alongside a dozen retired NHL players. In 1998 and 2008, Mak organized convocation ceremonies in Hong Kong, and for many parents of alumni it was the first time they had seen the U of A grads receive their degree. More than 1,000 people attended these events.

Sports Wall of Fame

Recognizing the contributions of alumni as athletes and builders of university sport.

Debra Barnett Debra (Covey) Barnett ’83 BPE, ’89 MA , has devoted much of her life to field hockey. This Saskatchewan-born athlete grew up in Jasper and made her way to the University of Alberta in 1979. After serving as captain of the Pandas volleyball team, Barnett began her field hockey career. While keeping in top form playing for Canada’s senior national team, she moved behind the bench as an assistant coach for the Pandas field hockey team. She represented Canada at many international competitions, including the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Barnett has been an award-winning coach for more than 20 years, and her honours include national coaching awards and a spot in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Barnett left Canada in 2000 and has since called the U.S., New Zealand and Australia home. She is currently the head coach of the Newtown City Hockey Club in Geelong, Australia.

Jenny Benkie Jenny (Cartmell) Benkie, ’03 BPE, wrote the book on what it means to be an award-winning volleyball superstar. The Sherwood Park native began her post-secondary career at the University of Alberta in 1995, and there was no looking back. After multiple rookie-of-the-year awards, Benkie was named captain of the Pandas volleyball team and led it to conference and national championships. A dedicated athlete with a passion for her school and the game, Benkie also represented Alberta and Canada in numerous international competitions. Like any good leader, Benkie is quick to salute inspiring mentors such as Laurie Eisler, Pandas volleyball head coach, and Lorne Sawula, women’s national team coach. Benkie was inducted into the Alberta Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Doug Bruce Doug Bruce, ’01 BA, is a talented athlete whose skill and passion took him around the world. The volleyball player, whom Golden Bears head coach Terry Danyluk described as “the best Canadian university setter of his time,” played in two national championships and was named player of the year, national tournament MVP and outstanding male athlete of the year. Bruce spent 10 years as a member of the Canadian national team and competed in international events that included the World Cup, Universiade games, world championships and the Pan American Games. Bruce also spent eight years playing professional volleyball everywhere from Germany and Portugal to France and Qatar. Bruce is known as an enthusiastic leader who has been a role model for his teammates and aspiring volleyball players. He now works as a senior surveyor for Natural Resources Canada.

Dale Schulha Dale Schulha, ’72 BPE, ’74 MSc, ’74 Dip(Ed), 

Athlete, coach, sports administrator, innovative leader—Schulha’s history with the University of Alberta started in the 1960s, when he played Golden Bears football as an undergrad. Schulha served as team captain of the 1972 College Bowl champions. After completing his formal education in 1974, he embarked on an impressive sport management career. He served two terms as the University of Alberta director of Athletics, and had a positive impact on international sport through his involvement in the World University Games movement as well as his role in bringing the 2001 World Championships in Athletics to Edmonton. Athletes and spectators who enjoy Foote Field can thank Schulha for his significant role in the development of this legacy facility on South Campus. Schulha’s career has been one of leadership and teamwork: he was honoured with the Austin Matthews Award for contribution to Canadian Interuniversity Sport in 2014. He is well respected for his outstanding contributions to the pursuit of academic and athletic excellence by Canadian university student athletes.

The Honourable Dr. Lois E. Hole Student Spirit Award

Recognizing undergraduate students who demonstrate a spirit of caring and community service.

Bretton Hari Bretton Hari, ’12 BSc, is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Alberta, set to graduate in 2016. Hari spends much of his time volunteering and participating in local and international community activities. He has served as an executive committee member for the Affair of the Heart Gala fundraiser for the Stollery Children’s Hospital, was a co-leader of the MD Rural Ambassadors program and an executive planner for the Medical Students Orientation Week ’13. Hari was the associate director of residence at St. Joseph’s College and was a co-leader of the Emergency Medicine Club. He has kept busy outside of the medical field by volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton, playing trombone in the Syncope jazz band and planning social events for his classmates. His volunteer work has taken him to Ecuador as a project co-leader for Help, Learn & Discover, in which he worked with a group of students to fundraise for and build sustainable housing for small communities. He most recently enjoyed cycling across Switzerland with his dad.

Blue Knox Blue Knox is a self-professed master of adventure, explorer and political junkie. She has had opportunities to volunteer, work and study abroad, including volunteering as a play worker in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with Play Around the World through the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. She worked as an associate with Leadership Africa USA in Washington, D.C., while studying international relations at The Washington Center and also studied in Lille, France. Knox has spent time working with the Kids With Cancer Society and as a study abroad ambassador with UAlberta International. She was an undergraduate researcher through the U of A’s Undergraduate Research Initiative, where she explored the relationship between contemporary politics and the work of William Shakespeare. Knox is the editor-in-chief of The Wanderer Online and co-chair of the Alberta Not-for-Profit Case Competition in the Alberta School of Business. She recently accepted a position to work abroad.