Dec. 12, 2018

Dean's Holiday Reception a celebration of success

Flagship awards a highlight of Schulich School of Engineering's annual soiree
Dean's Holiday Reception
Dean's Holiday Reception

Julie Andrews has raindrops and kittens, but at the Schulich School of Engineering, some of our favourite things are engineers who inspire the next generation with leadership and vision.

And it’s at the Schulich School of Engineering Dean’s Holiday Reception where deserving recipients are traditionally presented with Schulich’s flagship awards: the Canadian Engineering Leader Award, the Dean’s Award for Corporate Leadership, and new this year, the Schulich Leadership Excellence Award.

Hosted by Dean Bill Rosehart, PhD, the gathering of more than 200 business leaders, donors, alumni and industry partners on Dec. 6 at the Delta Hotel in downtown Calgary gave students, faculty and staff a chance to reflect on another busy year at the Schulich School of Engineering, while sharing a bit of Yuletide cheer.

Celebrating success

“Tonight is about celebrating a year of engineering success and honouring some of our outstanding engineering leaders,” Rosehart told the crowd.

The night’s highlight was the presentation of the three prestigious awards, with the inaugural Schulich Leadership Excellence Award going to University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon, PhD.

“As President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Cannon has led the transformation of the University of Calgary into one of Canada’s most dynamic and entrepreneurial post-secondary institutions,” said Rosehart.

“For her dedication, her leadership and her drive to make this university the best it can be – it is my great privilege to present Dr. Elizabeth Cannon with the brand new Schulich Leadership Excellence Award.”

Extraordinary journey

Cannon accepted the award, and then the outgoing university president gave thanks to all who have helped make the university thrive during her tenure.

“It has been an extraordinary journey. We’ve seen the university take major strides, and we’ve been able to do that because of the quality of our faculty, staff and of course, our students, but we also do it because of the community,” Cannon proclaimed.

“I want to thank those in this room who have stepped up to invest in our student experience, in our facilities, and in our research. We’ve seen the university reach great heights, both nationally and internationally.”

Champion of education

It was then Cannon’s turn to present Steve Laut, executive vice-chairman of Canadian Natural Resources, with the Canadian Engineering Leadership Award, for being what the university president described as “an extraordinary champion for postsecondary education and research — particularly here at his alma mater.”

Laut graduated from the Schulich School of Engineering with a degree in mechanical engineering, and has championed UCalgary projects like a state-of-the-art psychology clinic, and also shown extraordinary corporate support for the renovation and expansion of the engineering complex.

Laut praised lifelong learning – even if it’s learning from a mistake –  as the key to successful leadership.

“I believe to grow as a leader you should never miss an opportunity to learn as much as you can and quickly as you can from your mistakes,” said Laut, who started his career as a reservoir engineer, working his way to the helm of Canadian Natural Resources Limited by 2005.

“To me, learning, adapting and evolving are keys to successful leadership and to receive this from the University of Calgary, which is all about learning, is very meaningful to me.”

Hands-on learning

The 2018 Dean’s Award for Corporate Leadership was next, and Jason Balasch, president of Plains Midstream Canada, accepted the award on behalf of his company, an organization which has backed specialized workspaces for hands-on student training, among many other education-based projects.

“Community investment is very important to us at Plain Midstream Canada, and education is a big pillar of that program,” said Balasch, also a University of Calgary engineering alumnus.

“The university continues to provide companies like us with great graduates; creative, innovative leaders, and we actively recruit at the University of Calgary for full time positions, as well as for summer students and our intern program.”

Looking to the future

From celebrating achievement to commemorating another busy year at Schulich, Rosehart used the holiday reception to talk about the future.

“Schulich is never at a standstill. The year ahead we will continue to drive efforts to promote student success, fostering diversity and high impact research,” Rosehart told the audience.

“We are currently working to develop a new graduate employment initiative to ensure our students have support transitioning to meaningful engineering work. We are focused on expanding our industry partnerships to enable our researchers to grow their high impact research.”

“And we will continue to promote new diversity initiatives, including new pathways into engineering for under-represented groups, to welcome everyone into our profession.”