New leadership adventure education fund launched at Haskayne School of Business with $3-million gift

Hal Kvisle’s donation to Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business expands adventure education opportunities

The wildly popular leadership adventure education programs at the Haskayne School of Business have received a major boost from a Calgary business leader. The programs bring students to the spectacular wilderness of the Canadian Rockies as they learn about what it really takes to be a leader. 

Thanks to a $3-million gift from Hal Kvisle, MBA’82, the business school at the University of Calgary is announcing the creation of the Hal Kvisle Leadership Adventure Education Fund. It will support transformational personal leadership development and experiential learning opportunities for students through adventure education and experiential learning.

Meeting a growing demand for adventure education programs

The fund will allow Haskayne’s Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business (CCAL) to expand and broaden its spectrum of leadership education opportunities. Demand for current opportunities such as the Haskayne Wilderness Retreat, Haskayne Leadership Expedition and Leadership Challenge Weekend is growing rapidly and new funding will allow greater enrolment in these programs and development of new opportunities.

“Adventure education provides truly transformational leadership opportunities for Haskayne students and we are incredibly thankful for this generous gift that will help give students the skills they need in advanced leadership,” said Jim Dewald, dean of the Haskayne School of Business.  

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“Hal has demonstrated a passion for conservation and leadership education that aligns with our focus at Haskayne to educate the leaders of tomorrow. To make such a large gift during difficult economic times is remarkable and I believe a testament to the strong value of our educational programing,” said Dewald. 

The gift is Haskayne’s first major donation since the official launch of the university’s Energize: the Campaign for Eyes High fundraising campaign last week and it is the largest-ever gift to Haskayne by one of our alumni. A portion of the gift will be endowed to provide long-term funding.

From 2001 to 2010, Kvisle was president and CEO of TransCanada and its predecessor company, and after his retirement served as CEO of Talisman Energy from 2012 to 2015. Throughout his distinguished career, and as a board member of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Kvisle has had a passion for conservation and is known for being an environmental advocate who has sought to change perceptions that corporate leaders do not care about the environmental consequences of conducting business.

'A very real environment for confronting and resolving complex situations'

"Many young people do not have the opportunity to immerse themselves in high-impact operating situations,” said Kvisle. “Adventure Leadership provides an important alternative, a very real environment for confronting and resolving complex situations.

“It is inspiring to see the positive impact on the leadership capacity for students who participate in these programs. I am very grateful for the opportunity to help students at this stage of their leadership journey,” said Kvisle.

Adventure education programming has grown in popularity over the last decade, as there is increasing recognition that the skills and knowledge of advanced leaders aren’t just learned in a classroom. The programs help students learn the less tangible, but no less important, set of personal qualities that shape leaders.

“The overwhelming response from students who have participated in these programs is not only positive; many describe the experience as life-changing,” said Jennifer Krahn, CCAL’s director.  “I am thrilled that so many more graduate and undergraduate students will benefit from these programs thanks to this generous gift,” she said. 

A range of transformative leadership experiences

CCAL offers a spectrum of transformational leadership opportunities to inform, engage, integrate and transform students’ leadership capacity. Some of these programs include:

  • The Haskayne Leadership Expedition: A unique field course offered in conjunction with Outward Bound Canada in the Rocky Mountains that uses a five-day mountain expedition to help students cultivate the practical skills and qualities they will need to thrive as leaders in the modern business world.
  • The Haskayne Wilderness Retreat: A one-week intensive field course in Kananaskis that develops leadership capabilities in the context of sustainable development engaging indigenous elders and deep reflective learning with an overnight wilderness solo.
  • The Haskayne Leadership Challenge Weekend: A weekend field experience designed to help students practise the real-world competencies, attitudes and self-awareness skills required by advanced leaders and effective teams.
  • The Haskayne Leadership Experiences: A series of experiential leadership development experiences outside the classroom. One type is the Leadership dojo offering that uses a somatic coaching approach drawn from traditional Japanese martial arts to help students explore and embody principles of advanced leadership.  

The fund will help expand current programs and deliver new programs as they are developed.