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Giving back

Alumnus’ giving helps bolster engineering faculty’s profile

Campus and Community

By Jackey Locke

Fred Cahill knows the importance of giving back. He also knows the value of a Memorial University education.

It’s his passion for both that has made the president of the Cahill Group one of the university’s, and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s, most outstanding contributors.

“For me, giving back is the right thing to do,” he said. “I have been fortunate throughout my career to be able to give back to the community that supported me and was influential in both my professional and personal development. I know the value of the education and experience at Memorial and want to support it however I can.”

Mr. Cahill, who graduated from Memorial with an electrical engineering degree, was honoured last fall at the university’s 37th annual Alumni Tribute Awards event. Mr. Cahill received the J.D. Eaton Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions to Memorial.

“Our province’s university will succeed or fail to the degree that all of us, citizens, government and businesses alike, are active contributors.” — Fred Cahill

During his acceptance speech, Mr. Cahill extended a challenge to all Memorial alumni, organizations and industries that employ Memorial graduates.

“Support this educational jewel, Memorial,” he said. “Find a way to give back through your time, energy and effort, whether it’s financially or volunteering your time, through political support or even through the continued employment of our graduates. Our province’s university will succeed or fail to the degree that all of us, citizens, government and businesses alike, are active contributors in building strong innovative and enriching communities. If not us, who? If not now, when?”

The Memorial connection

Mr. Cahill gives back to Memorial and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science in numerous ways.

He is the current chair of the Genesis Centre’s board of directors and a member of the Board of Regents. He is the chair of the Engineering and Applied Science Advisory Council.

He initiated the creation of the Cahill Engineering One Student Success Centre, a program that better prepares students to enter the work force. He is an honorary board member of the annual affinity NL (Calgary event).

His family created the Cahill Nursing Simulation Centre to provide future health care practitioners with the opportunity to practise their clinical skills and knowledge using current technology in a hospital-type setting.

For Mr. Cahill giving back to his alma mater is important for several reasons.

“If you find something you are passionate about, you will make time for it.” — Fred Cahill

Mr. Cahill, his wife Doreen and his son David are all Memorial graduates. Over the past five years, his company has employed more than 175 engineering and business co-operative work term students. Currently, Cahill employs approximately 50 Memorial engineering graduates, with Memorial business graduates working in the company’s finance, human resources, marketing and IT departments.

“Memorial graduates have a reputation that precedes them,” he said. “When you have an understanding of the whole organization, which is about more than the academics, you know that Memorial graduates have more to offer than just a degree. They are a part of a community that is engaged and supportive. They are driven, smart, creative, kind, curious and community-minded. These are the traits that you look for in employees to help grow and diversify your company, to represent your business in the communities where we live and work.”

‘Ignite our passion’

Mr. Cahill admits that sometimes it can be challenging to give back but says gestures don’t always have to be grand or significant. He encourages all alumni to give something back to their university.

“We all have different drivers that ignite our passion for what we do and how we do it,” he said. “The reality of our world is that we always prioritize activities or events in our lives, but sometimes those priorities shift or change. I think we need to get better at recognizing this and find a way to be less critical of ourselves. One thing I have learned is, if you find something you are passionate about, you will make time for it. For me, that continues to be about my interest in, and my connection to, Memorial.”

Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, appreciates the support of alumni like Mr. Cahill, and says it’s important for the faculty to receive their support.

“Our alumni are important partners in our faculty’s success,” said Dr. Naterer. “There are various ways of giving back, including financially through philanthropic gifts or with their time, such as hiring and mentoring work-term students, new graduates, guest lectures or design projects. Our faculty needs this ongoing support. Many thanks to our alumni who contribute to our success.”

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