Back where they belong

(Edmonton) More than 1,200 people were on hand at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre for the 2011 Alumni Recognition Awards extravaganza Sept. 22.

Of the 38 award winners this year, 16 received Alumni Honour Awards, while five were honoured with a Distinguished Alumni Award: Tom Radford for his pivotal role in Canada’s film industry; Marguerite Trussler and Francis Price as a couple for their philanthropy and community leadership; John Godel for his inspirational work in pediatric care in Canada and beyond, and Claire Martin for her groundbreaking and award-winning efforts in weather forecasting and education.

“That was incredibly inspiring,” said Students’ Union president Rory Tighe during the post-awards festivities. “It’s amazing to see what U of A graduates have accomplished and it’s humbling to think I’m following in their footsteps.”

At 103 years old, Bill Kent was the oldest person in attendance and made the trek all the way from Langley, British Columbia, just to be in the crowd honouring the award winners. “When I was working I made the trip every five years,” he said. “Since retiring at 65, I come every year. The award winners are always an impressive group.”

Kent, who graduated from the U of A in 1931, won his own Alumni Honour Award in 2009 and is recognized with an annual tribute thanks to his age and the 900-kilometre trip he makes to be in attendance.

A swath of U of A’s most recent alumni were singled out for awards, including Todd Cherniawsky, a member of the art direction team for two Oscar-nominated films; Ken Bautista, a digital media pioneer; and Jason Kapalka, a trend-setter in the gaming industry.

Another past award-winner on hand was Ellen Schoeck, author of I Was There: A Century of Alumni Stories About the University of Alberta, 1906–2006. Schoek, who regularly accompanies Kent to the event, said, “I have so hugely enjoyed getting to know this alumni community through Bill and the Recognition Awards ceremony. It’s knitted me back to the U of A.”

Janice Annett, a 2011 business grad, didn’t know what to expect in coming back so soon. “It’s absolutely inspirational … and it’s a great party.”

For more information about 2011 Alumni Weekend, visit www.ualberta.ca/alumni/weekend.

For more on the alumni awards visit www.alumni.ualberta.ca/Celebrate/AlumniAwards