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In great company

Memorial University pays tribute to four exceptional alumni

Campus and Community

By Lisa Pendergast

From aerospace to Africa, from finance to fine art, the recipients of Memorial’s 2016 Alumni Tribute Awards are diverse, but share a love of Memorial and a spirit of giving.

On Oct. 13, more than 300 alumni and friends celebrated four outstanding alumni at the 35th annual Alumni Tribute Awards. The awards are the highest honour bestowed by alumni on exceptional Memorial graduates for their career achievements, as well as contributions to their communities and alma mater.

From left are Karl Smith, Christopher Nolan, Morgan MacDonald and Mark Dobbin
From left are Karl Smith, Christopher Nolan, Morgan MacDonald and Mark Dobbin.
Photo: Dennis Flynn

A culture of teamwork

The 2016 Alumnus of the Year is Mark Dobbin. Mr. Dobbin, B.Comm.(Co-op.)’81, is a leader in the business community, as well as a dedicated volunteer and philanthropist. During a career spanning three decades, he has played an integral role in stimulating the economic, cultural and social prosperity of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Dobbin spoke about the importance of teamwork.

“Aside from the top notch education I received, the defining characteristic of my time at Memorial was the culture my fellow students developed in conjunction with the faculty and staff. For me, the key aspect to that culture, was teamwork,” he said.

Mr. Dobbin also thanked his family — his “original team.”

“From the early days, both my mother, Eleanor, and my father, Craig, provided me with advice, support and mentorship,” he said. “Without Sandra, my wife, none of the other activities, which led to this, would have amounted to anything.”

‘Memorial never left me’

Karl Smith, B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’81, is this year’s recipient of the J.D. Eaton Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions to Memorial. Mr. Smith is currently the executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Fortis Inc. Notable among a lifelong volunteer relationship with Memorial is his work to establish the Calgary Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Dinner, a highly successful fundraising event for scholarships at Memorial.

“I left Memorial for a while to pursue important life pursuits like family and career — but Memorial never left me,” he said. “I don’t owe a lot to Memorial, I owe everything to Memorial.”

He also stressed the importance of giving back.

“Let’s not take the greatness of Memorial for granted. I ask you all to think how you might contribute and give back to our wonderful university, no contribution is too small. On this small dot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the fabric of our culture is enhanced so much by my alma mater. Let’s ensure it continues to be great.”

You receive more than you give

Christopher Nolan, BN’08, MN’14, is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award. Mr. Nolan is a supervisor with the health centre in Hall Beach, Nunavut, and this work carries over into his volunteer life. One of his many volunteer commitments includes an eight-year relationship with the Ottawa-based Canada-Africa Community Health Alliance.

“Community involvement, humanitarian efforts, social accountability and responsibility take many different forms, shapes, and varying degrees of commitment. Their harmony is that you always receive more back than you give,” he said. “Growing up in rural Newfoundland, community involvement was an easy way for me to become engaged in a positive way. Throughout the years, that involvement has seeded and grown into a passion that I’ve been able to assimilate into my career, education, and ultimately, how I define myself — and how I wish to interact with the world around me.”

‘Following your passion’

Morgan MacDonald, BBA’04, is this year’s Alumni Horizon Award recipient and is being recognized for exceptional achievement by a Memorial graduate 35 years of age and younger. A highly acclaimed sculptor, Mr. MacDonald established the Newfoundland Bronze Foundry in 2005, now the largest shop of its kind in Eastern Canada. He is well known for iconic bronze works that include The Rower at Quidi Vidi Lake in St.  John’s, and the Danger Tree sculpture, a piece dedicated and installed in Corner Brook to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

Mr. MacDonald spoke about finding your passion.

“My journey has always been about following your passion,” he said. “Your passion is the thing that despite all odds, successes or failures, you would do anyway, because you believe in it. Passion is what it’s all about. Memorial University is a place where you can discover that passion and find your career path.”

The 36th annual Alumni Tribute Awards will be held in 2017. To learn more about the award categories, please visit here.

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