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Gold star

A Q&A with J.D. Eaton Award recipient Margaret Allan

By Heidi Wicks

The 2022 J.D. Eaton Award recipient, Margaret (Margie) Allan (BA(Hons.)’82, MBA’95) checks all of the Alumni Tribute Awards criteria boxes with gold stars.

Margaret Allan is wearing a navy blazer and is shown from the shoulders up, outside in front of green grass and trees.
Margaret Allan
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

From her years as an undergraduate to her time with Genesis, the Board of Regents, the Marine Institute, the School of Music and numerous other arts organizations, Ms. Allan’s loyalty to Memorial University has never wavered.

In this Q&A with the Gazette, she reflects on her varied and rewarding journey so far.

HW: Are there instances you can recall from your time as a student at Memorial that have stuck with you throughout your career and life?

MA: In my undergraduate degree (history major, religious studies minor), I had some wonderful professors who were brilliant lecturers and nationally recognized scholars (Drs. David Bell, Stuart Pierson, Bernice Shrank).

They could inspire you on almost any topic, from historiography to Victorian literature to Greek sculpture. In fact, now that I think of it, Dr. Schrank’s course in writing basic English prose has served me well all my working life!

Mostly, though, I remember my friends and acquaintances in the Department of History and other parts of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, a large number of whom are now leaders in the university and our larger community.

The success of these graduates speaks to the intrinsic value of a liberal arts/humanities education — something which is pretty much out of favour these days — and to the broad impact Memorial has in the community.

HW: You have been an important part of Memorial’s evolution. What are some of the most exciting changes you’ve been a part of?

MA: I have had the good fortune to witness several areas of change, close up.

During my time on the Board of Regents and on the board of Genesis, it was great to see the university focus on building the entrepreneurial ecosystem and providing real-time support for young entrepreneurs.

Genesis has flourished, expanding into new and progressive programs for encouraging women in technology and supporting immigrant entrepreneurs. When you combine this with the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship and the MBA program in social enterprise, it’s a powerful network.

With the increasing number of successful startups, we are already seeing the benefits of these efforts.

I also would like to mention the incredible growth of the Marine Institute. The institute has always had strong roots in rural Newfoundland and Labrador and close ties with industry, which ensured its programs were always relevant to the labour market.

Over the years it has built on these relationships and expanded its offerings to include advanced degrees, state-of-the-art industry research facilities and expertise and publications, all while remaining highly relevant to the province’s industrial needs.

HW: You have been a champion of Memorial in many ways, but I’m thinking specifically of your time as an ambassador during the Dare To campaign. Can you share some of your special memories from that time?

MA: I learned that when you truly believe in something, it is not hard at all to share that enthusiasm with others.

I enjoyed the experience of meeting with other alumni and asking them to consider donating. I also began my personal philanthropy journey at that time.

Earlier in my life, when I was a part-time graduate student with a young family, I was very aware of the personal challenges of balancing a career, family and studies.

With the Dare To campaign, I decided to begin building an endowed award, the Kathleen (Fitzgerald) Earle Memorial Award, named after my mother who was a long-time employee of Memorial and a person who herself had returned to studies after she had a family.

I hope that the award will benefit mature female students who begin or return to studies later in their lives.

Award ceremony

The 41st annual Alumni Tribute Awards will take place at Memorial University’s Core Science Facility Atrium on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Please follow the Office of Alumni Engagement @memorialualumni on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to watch the ceremony.

Visit online to learn more about giving to Memorial.

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