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Paying tribute

Four alumni to be recognized for outstanding achievements

Campus and Community

By Lisa Pendergast

Aerospace entrepreneur. Memorial ambassador. Artistic genius. International humanitarian.

Memorial University has announced the recipients of its 35th annual Alumni Tribute Awards, recognizing four outstanding alumni for their career achievements as well as contributions to their communities and alma mater. The 2016 recipients include Mark Dobbin, B.Comm.(Co-op.)’81, Karl Smith, B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’81, Morgan MacDonald, BBA’04 and Christopher Nolan, BN’08, MN’14.

“This year’s recipients of the Tribute Awards are extraordinary individuals who genuinely represent what it means to be alumni of Memorial University,” said Bob Dowden, chair, Alumni Tribute Awards Selection Committee. “Every year, we have a large number of outstanding Memorial graduates nominated who are making an impact locally, nationally and internationally.”

Alumnus of the Year

Alumnus of the Year Mark Dobbin.            
Mark Dobbin
Photo: David Howells

Mark Dobbin is the Alumnus of the Year recipient for 2016.

After graduating from Memorial University, Mr. Dobbin completed an MBA from Dalhousie University. Born and raised in St. John’s, N.L., he began his career in the aerospace industry at the age of 21 when he joined Sealand Helicopters, a company founded by his father, the late Craig Dobbin. Mr. Dobbin spent 17 years at the company, which eventually became CHC Helicopters, and where he became vice-president. He was also chair from 2006-08.

In 1998 he left CHC to become chair and CEO of newly founded Vector Aerospace Corporation, a globally recognized aviation repair and overhaul company which he led from 1998-2003. In 2004 Mr. Dobbin founded Killick Capital Inc., a private equity investment firm focused on Atlantic Canadian businesses as well as the global aerospace industry. As president of Killick Capital Inc., Mr. Dobbin plays a key role in stimulating new business growth in Newfoundland and Labrador, both through the provision of capital funds and as a mentor to local entrepreneurs.

In 2000 he was named one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 business people by Report on Business Magazine and has also been ranked by Atlantic Business magazine as one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Dobbin provides guidance and shares his expertise on the boards of many successful companies including Max: Arts, Athletics and Wellness; Killick Aerospace; Celtx; Clockwork Fox; Sentinel Alert; HeyOrca and Sequence Bio. Previously he served on the boards of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation, Stratos Global and Verafin Inc.

Mr. Dobbin is also a dedicated philanthropist and volunteer, extending support to a variety of causes and organizations in the community, including Memorial University. He is a long-standing supporter of Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration in various capacities, among them as a past member of the Dean’s Advisory Board. In 2000 he earned the Faculty of Business Administration’s Alumni Honour Award for career achievements and contributions to the university and the community.

Between 2007 and 2013, Mr. Dobbin assumed a leadership role as deputy chair of Memorial’s Dare To fundraising campaign. Thanks in large part to his perseverance for the duration of that six-year initiative, Mr. Dobbin helped the Memorial University community raise almost $68 million in what was the largest private sector fundraising campaign in the history of the province.

J.D. Eaton Alumni Award

J.D. Eaton Alumni Award recipient Karl Smith
Karl Smith
Photo: David Howells

Karl Smith is this year’s recipient of the J.D. Eaton Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions to Memorial.

Mr. Smith moved from his hometown of Stephenville Crossing, N.L., to attend Memorial University in 1977. A chartered accountant, his career has progressed with great success and he has achieved excellence in the utility and financial sectors.

In 2014 he was named executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Fortis Inc. and moved back to Newfoundland and Labrador. Prior to this, he worked as the president and chief executive officer of FortisAlberta Inc. in Calgary. He has also held the positions of vice-president, finance and chief financial officer, then president and chief executive officer, with Newfoundland Power; vice-president, finance, Fortis Trust; and vice-president, finance, Fortis Properties. Mr. Smith currently serves as a director on the board of CH Energy Group and the Fortis BC Group of Companies.

He has served on the boards of Fortis Ontario, Fortis Alberta, Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd., Canadian Electricity Association, Mount Royal University and Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta. He is currently chair of the board of directors with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council and sits on the board of Junior Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the community, Mr. Smith has volunteered with The Power of Life Project, a corporate charity of Newfoundland Power that operates in partnership with the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation. He has encouraged blood donations for the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program and has inspired young people to be the leaders of tomorrow through Junior Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Smith has always been a generous supporter and enthusiastic ambassador and champion of Memorial University and the Faculty of Business Administration. He was a member of the faculty’s Advisory Board for over a decade and has served as a judge for MBA case competitions and a contributing member of the Advisory Board’s Resource Committee. While living in Calgary, Mr. Smith was instrumental in the growth of Memorial’s Calgary Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Dinner, serving as chair of the Calgary organizing committee in 2008 and remaining in that position until 2014. Mr. Smith continues to play a key role in what has become a much anticipated annual celebration, drawing over 300 alumni and friends annually. It is one of the university’s most successful alumni and fundraising events and to date has raised over $560,000 for the Calgary Affinity Dinner Entrance Scholarship, funds that have provided more than 28 students with much-needed financial support.

Alumni Horizon Award

Morgan MacDonald
Morgan MacDonald
Photo: David Howells

Morgan MacDonald is this year’s Alumni Horizon Award recipient and is being recognized for exceptional achievement by a Memorial graduate under the age of 35.

Mr. MacDonald originally enrolled in the bachelor of fine arts program in his hometown of Corner Brook, N.L., at Memorial’s Grenfell Campus. He switched to the bachelor of business administration program after a year, seeing the value that a business background could bring to a potential career as an artist. While attending Memorial, he apprenticed with nationally acclaimed sculptor Luben Boykov and continued to develop his skills as a sculptor. At the age of 23, he approached representatives from the City of St. John’s with a concept for Quidi Vidi Lake; he was commissioned to do his first life-sized bronze monument. The Rower has become his signature piece and an iconic part of the St. John’s landscape.

Since that time, Mr. MacDonald has completed several notable pieces, including the Sealers Memorial in Elliston, N.L.; A Time, which is installed on George Street and celebrates St. John’s as the cultural capital of Canada; and the RCMP memorial in Moncton, N.B., honouring three RCMP officers killed in the line of duty in 2014.

Mr. MacDonald has an interest in the military, specifically the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War. He has completed several related monuments such as Corner Brook Remembrance Square and the Conception Bay South Monument of Honour. He recently completed a piece for Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook depicting the Danger Tree, a representation of the iconic, solitary tree that stood on the battlefield of Beaumont-Hamel on the fateful day of July 1, 1916.

His current project, 100 Portraits of the Great War, is also a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. For this project, one hundred descendants of those who served with the Newfoundland contingent during the First World War will have their faces cast. Together, these one hundred faces will form the final creation. A book and film documentary are being produced to coincide with the piece.

Mr. MacDonald started the Newfoundland Bronze Foundry in 2005, now the largest bronze foundry in Eastern Canada. Whether he depicts the sealing disaster, the military or the rower by Quidi Vidi, the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador is first and foremost in his art.

Outstanding Community Service Award

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
Photo: Submitted

Christopher Nolan is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award.

Mr. Nolan, originally from Duntara, N.L., is currently employed by the Government of Nunavut and is the supervisor of a health centre in Hall Beach, a small fly-in community in one of the most remote places in Canada’s Arctic. In addition to his bachelor of nursing and master of nursing degrees, he is currently working on a post-master’s nurse practitioner graduate diploma, which he expects to complete in spring 2017.

Since 2009 Mr. Nolan has volunteered with an Ottawa-based organization called Canada-Africa Community Health Alliance (CACHA). He has travelled to Tanzania each year for the past eight years, spending two weeks providing treatments and services, such as HIV diagnosis, primary health care, emergent health-care services, women’s health and antenatal care and health education. During the intense two-week period, Mr. Nolan works in mobile clinics where more than 400 patients are assessed and treated each day free of charge. The needs presented by this population are wide-ranging and critically important, spanning everything from malaria prevention to basic hygiene. This work also includes providing education to local Tanzanian doctors and nurses. For the past three years, Mr. Nolan has been a co-medical team lead with CACHA, leading a group of physicians, nurses and pharmacists from across Canada.

Mr. Nolan has a lifelong record of community service. As a teenager, he volunteered every Saturday at a senior citizens’ home in Bonavista, N.L. He has a passion for helping others both locally and internationally. In addition to his work in Africa, he has put together Christmas shoe boxes for the citizens of Belize and operated eye-glass clinics in Mexico and Paraguay.

Whether it is involvement at a local food bank, professional committee work, union activities to improve work life and patient care or his extensive volunteer work in Tanzania and other developing countries, Mr. Nolan serves as a humble example of an individual committed to outstanding community service. He has a desire to improve the quality of life in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and beyond.

“My congratulations to this year’s honorees who have not only excelled in their careers, but have also taken the time to give back to their communities and their university,” said Mr. Dowden. “I look forward to celebrating these deserving individuals at the awards ceremony in October.”

The 35th annual Alumni Tribute Awards ceremony will take place Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s.

To purchase tickets, please contact the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development by telephone at 709-864-4354 or toll free at 1-877-700-4081 or by email. Tickets are also available for purchase online. Tickets are $125 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Details can be found online.

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