People of the Campaign

PROTECTOR: Infectious diseases will continue to emerge. Dr. Alyson Kelvin at USask’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) knows a rapid response is critical to protect human and animal health. Whether it is influenza or COVID, scientists and researchers at VIDO like Dr. Kelvin knows that fighting infectious diseases is a battle where every moment matters. 

CHAMPIONS: For decades, Ron (BE'62, DCL’13) and Jane (BEd’62, DCL’22) Graham have been champions for USask. Their commitment to funding scholarship, advancing athletics, transforming education and enhancing spaces for students has earned them the distinction of the most generous alumni donors in the university’s history. Ron and Jane are proudly serving as honorary co-chairs of the Campaign for USask, the largest campaign in Saskatchewan’s history.

PROTECTOR: As a nursing student at USask, Hannah Lytle is motivated by the demands of assessing patients’ conditions and determining the care they need. In a health care landscape confronted with increasingly complex issues, we need nurses who can rise to these challenges. 
 
Hannah is using her education to be a catalyst for new and innovative strategies in nursing. With your support, USask nurses like Hannah will change the world.

LEADER: The world needs more strong women in leadership positions. Huskie Women’s Basketball head coach Lisa Thomaidis has led national championship-winning teams at USask. She was the head coach of Canada’s national team for multiple Olympic Games and is now the head coach for Germany’s national women’s team. In addition to winning championships, Lisa’s mission is to provide an environment that models and fosters the development of capable and confident women leaders of the future. 
 
Support for the Campaign for USask is an investment into Huskie Athletics teams and the student-athletes who will emerge as leaders the world needs. 

EXPLORER: As one of USask’s leading water researchers, John Pomeroy (BSc’83, PhD’88) is focused on hydrological processes and modelling in cold weather regions that are affected by climate change. Researchers like John are the reason USask has the top-rated water research program in the country. When it comes to water research, time is precious and your donation to the Campaign for USask can enable and enhance the world’s water security. 

INNOVATOR: It starts with a vision to better understand the world—and beyond. Mechanical engineering student Arliss Sidloski is part of the student-led RADSAT-SK Team that has developed a cube satellite that will be launched into space on June 3. It’s believed to be the first made-in-Saskatchewan satellite that will be sent to space. 
 
Thanks to the ingenuity of the RADSAT-SK team and the generosity of donors, the satellite will be sent into its own orbit where it should remain for approximately one year. During that time, the team plans to collect experimental radiation data from a ground station located on the USask campus. Your support for the Campaign for USask ensures that our students’ inventive ideas can lift off. 

PROTECTOR: Assistant professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies, Randy Morin (BEd’07) teaches Cree language and culture with students from all backgrounds. He draws inspiration from his students’ curiosity and their passion to share their own stories in one of the original languages of the land. 
 
At USask, we are committed to recognizing the history, cultures, knowledges, and diversity of Indigenous people. Your donation to the campaign supports Indigenous learners, teachers—and language.

CONNECTOR: As a Huskie student-athlete, Maxwell Amoafo (BA’23) stood tall on the court, in the classroom and in the community. Recently Completing his degree in sociology, Maxwell balanced the demands of his studies and playing for the Huskie Men’s Basketball Team. He also prioritizes community connections. In his work leading basketball clinics for local youth, Maxwell has become a role model for kids, inspiring them to find their passion for sport and become connectors themselves. 
 
By donating to the Campaign For USask, you support students and graduates like Maxwell who have a passion to build communities, nurture a love for sport and enrich our understanding of human interaction. Your gift can also enhance facilities and resources for Huskie Athletics so our program can continue to be a national leader. 

CHAMPIONS: Thanks to USask champions like Tim (BA'86, JD'90), Bonnie (BEd'87), Ty (BComm'20) and Bailey Gitzel (BKin'23), students will have increased access to mental health supports at USask. The family’s generous gift of $1 million to establish the Gitzel Family Fund for Mental Health will provide additional funding for counsellors, group therapy delivery, and peer-health programming to ensure that USask students are positioned to thrive with holistic support throughout their educational journey. 

INNOVATOR: Professor Michaela Keet (LLB'90, BA'90, LLM'05) prepares future legal professionals to lead in an increasingly complex profession–and world. As problem-solving roles have become more central for the new generation of lawyers, Professor Keet’s area of research and work focuses on innovative tools related to negotiation, communication, and access to justice considerations. 
 
As justice and the rule of law seemingly have never been more important in our lifetime, your gift to the Campaign for USask will ensure that future professionals are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge of the profession. Your support allows innovators like Professor Keet to forge a learning environment that prepares student-graduates to lead immediately and enrich the professional communities that they join. 

LEADER: Everyone deserves a safe and comfortable home. As CEO of the Saskatchewan Landlord Association, Cameron Choquette (BComm’19, MPA’22) works alongside partners, governments and housing providers to ensure Saskatchewan residents have a healthy and resilient housing continuum. 
 
Recognized as Saskatchewan’s Young Professional of the Year by Saskatchewan Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs, Cameron is an advocate in a housing and rental market fraught with complexity. 
 
As an undergraduate and graduate student at USask, Cameron explored his passion, acquired expertise and developed essential leadership skills. Your donation to the Campaign for USask is a continued investment in young leaders like Cameron. 

PROTECTOR: Dr. Arinjay Banerjee (PhD’18) and his research group at USask’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization fulfill the critical research of identifying vulnerabilities that can severely threaten populations—often before the danger advances. 
 
Protectors like Dr. Banerjee are training the next generation of scientists, thinkers, and change-makers who will improve the quality of life for humans and animals. 
 
A gift to the Campaign for USask is an important investment in the efforts of experts like Dr. Banerjee to keep populations safer and researchers better prepared for the perpetual fight against widespread infection. 

INNOVATOR: Transforming the lives of patients living with kidney failure is both a professional and personal mission for Dr. Amira Abdelrasoul, an associate professor in the College of Engineering. Losing a close family member to kidney failure, Dr. Abdelrasoul observed the complications he experienced in dialysis sessions. This experience ignited her passion to solve dialysis problems and increase the quality of life of for kidney failure patients. Dr. Abdelrasoul’s research program is the only program in Canada to address key problems associated with dialysis membranes, and includes the development of a wearable kidney. 
 
By giving to the Campaign for USask, you are strengthening critical research from leading researchers like Dr. Abdelrasoul and can dramatically enhance millions of lives around the world. 

EXPLORER: Educating future health care professionals and neurosurgeons is an important part of USask’s vision for the future—and our livelihood. Dr. Michael Kelly (BSc'95, MD'99, PhD'11) is the Provincial Head of Surgery and a Professor of Neurosurgery in the College of Medicine. Along with a devoted team of colleagues and students, Dr. Kelly explores the complexities of the brain to understand more about strokes, brain trauma, and potential treatments. 
 
Dr. Kelly was recently named the Knight Family Enhancement Chair in Neurological Surgery, which was made possible thanks to a transformative $1 million gift to the Campaign for USask from Knight Cares. The donation will improve research and care for patients affected by neurological diseases. 
 
Donations to the Campaign for USask of any amount will allow such impactful exploration to continue. 

CONNECTOR: As interim associate provost at USask and faculty in the Edwards School of Business, Dr. Vince Bruni-Bossio (MBA’10, PhD’21) has received several accolades for his ability to connect with students, most notably the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship. He thrives on teaching the nuances of the business world and supporting students as they harness their passion. 
 
Dr. Bruni-Bossio is also committed in his work to keep our university progressive in an ever-changing world. As co-chair of USask’s comprehensive Post-Pandemic Shift Project, he co-led a team to conduct research that uncovered the ways the university must adapt the way it leads, supports, engages and innovates in a post-pandemic world. 
 
Continuously committed to make connections with people and between disparate concepts, Dr. Bruni-Bossio is one of USask’s important leaders who ensures that the support of the Campaign for USask’s priorities will allow us to continue to be the university the world needs. 

LEADER: Libby Epoch was an integral player on a national championship-winning Huskie women’s basketball team, in addition to a multiple-time USPORTS All-Academic Canadian. Now as her focus is set on completing her civil engineering degree, Libby’s leadership goes beyond the hardwood, as USask engineers play a role in enhancing the sustainability of our planet and building communities for future generations. 
 
As a point guard with a penchant for passing, Libby has been a recipient of big assists away from the court, earning donor-funded awards which eased her financial burden while exceling as a student-athlete. 
 
Donating to the Campaign for USask is the perfect opportunity to make an assist and invest in our leaders. 

PROTECTOR: The bond with our pets is one of the most rewarding and enduring relationships we can have. They are loved like members of the family—so they deserve the most compassionate and expert medical attention, whether it’s time for a check-up or urgent care. 
 
Dr. Jen Loewen (DVM’14) is an assistant professor in the Western College of Veterinarian Medicine (WCVM). She works with faculty and staff in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Services to produce competent, confident and composed future veterinarians for the on-campus clinic and the veterinary industry profession worldwide. Educating the next wave of veterinary professionals who help to diagnose, treat and protect our animals — efforts that extend our pets’ lives and enhance their quality of life. 
 
Your donation to the Campaign for USask can fund a variety of WCVM initiatives, including student awards, enhanced spaces, research chairs, and more.

CONNECTOR: As a student-athlete, Averie Allard (BEd’23) juggled the demands of performing as a standout player on the Huskie women’s volleyball team and working toward her education degree. As a recent grad, she continues this balance of athletics and academics professionally, dedicated to standing up for Indigenous people. 
 
Averie recently graduated from the College of Education’s Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP), which ensures people of Métis ancestry are equitably represented in the teaching profession. She was a recipient of the donor-funded Indigenous Student Achievement Awards for her leadership. 
 
Donating to the Campaign for USask can allow connectors like Averie create an education system that further represents, supports and uplifts Indigenous peoples. 

INNOVATOR: A priority of the Campaign for USask, critical research at our university takes on many forms to address various growing global demands. Dr. Colleen Dell is at the forefront of animal therapy research and its impact on mental health and addictions for humans. 
 
With her fellow researchers and students, Dr. Dell has attracted international attention in her work with service and therapy dogs (like Molly, pictured). This innovative research is boldly contributing to the growing evidence of animal-assisted interventions that are delivering results for humans in need of comfort and support. 
 
Dr. Dell’s research team recently partnered with St. John Ambulance in Saskatchewan to offer a first-of-its-kind online certificate course to INCREASE the SKILLS of therapy dog handlers to support their interactions with the program’s participants. 
 
Your donation to the campaign can help fund innovative research like Dr. Dell’s that has the power to heal vulnerable humans and better understand our relationship with animals. 

CONNECTOR: Entering his fourth year as a mechanical engineering student and a running back for Huskie football team, Ryker Frank knows the rewards and rigors of each pursuit. Whether it’s accelerating through gaps in opposing defences or developing solutions in his course work, Ryker summons determination, creativity, and problem-solving skills both on the field and in the classroom. 
 
Many student-athletes like Ryker have lofty aspirations for their seasons and post-graduation—connecting their experiences in academics and athletics. 
 
Giving to the Campaign for USask can support different priorities. Whether you’re passionate about creating visionary spaces at USask, funding awards for students, or enhancing training resources for Huskie student-athletes, your donation to the campaign helps students learn and compete an elite level.

PROTECTOR: The world needs more organized and collaborative efforts to overcome serious health challenges affecting us and our companion animals. 
 
Through comparative oncology, Dr. Behzad Toosi (PhD’10) at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) connects cancer research in veterinary and human medicine in ways that will help protect both parties. 
 
This research is a pioneering attempt in Canada expected to be highly impactful to advance our scientific knowledge across the world. Dr. Toosi’s expansion of the knowledge of human and animal malignancies, and how to defeat them, has potential for incredible social and economic impact. 
 
Your donation to the Campaign for USask can fund a variety of WCVM initiatives, including student awards, enhanced spaces, research chairs and more. 

EXPLORER: As a chemist, Dr. Chris Phenix (PhD’07) has a mission to improve the diagnosis and treatment of several diseases that afflict millions worldwide. Parkinson's disease has been a focus for Dr. Phenix and his research team, as they develop imaging and blood test methods to better diagnose aggressive forms of the disease. 
 
As the rates of newly diagnosed Parkinson's patients have increased in Saskatchewan and across the country, the world desperately needs this research and essential funding to strengthen its impact. The same tests potentially useful for revealing aggressive Parkinson’s disease are being applied to help improve crop production, a unique aspect of this research. 
 
By giving to the Campaign for USask, you can help fund critical research—like the efforts undertaken by Dr. Phenix and his research team in the endless exploration to enhance and save lives.

LEADER: A graduate student at USask’s School of Environment and Sustainability, Aubrey-Anne Laliberte-Pewapisconias (BComm'22, CTIGP'22) has seen first-hand how the generosity and support of the community makes a difference. Donor-funded scholarships provided her life-changing opportunities. As the co-founder of the Indigenous Business Students’ Society, support from across campus and from the business community helped the organization thrive. 
 
Aubrey-Anne is passionate about clean energy for Indigenous communities. She has taken part in Indigenous Clean Energy’s Generation Power program, and has gone on to negotiate climate policy internationally as one of Canada’s delegates to the G20 Youth Summit. 
 
Giving to the Campaign for USask ignites students like Aubrey-Anne to become leaders at USask and beyond.

CHAMPION: For decades, Dr. Karim (Kay) Nasser (PhD’65, DSc’16) and his family have been champions for USask, funding several initiatives to support students and infrastructure. An honorary degree recipient and a professor in the College of Engineering for 33 years, his most recent passion project was personal to him—to transform campus space and help foster love of his favourite sport. 
 
He developed a love for tennis, despite having to play on courts that were often in subpar condition while growing up in Lebanon. Remembering the importance of modern spaces and facilities for physical activity, Dr. Nasser made a $500,000 gift to the Campaign for USask to repair and refurbish the tennis courts on campus for student, staff and community use. 
 
The newly upgraded courts now bear his name, K.W. Nasser Courts, and are the latest testament to his unwavering commitment to giving back his university and enhancing his community. 
 
By donating to the campaign, you can support the projects like this that help elevate and create new visionary spaces on campus. 

EXPLORER: A faculty member in the Oncology Department in the College of Medicine at USask and the director of research for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Dr. Deborah Anderson is among the distinguished researchers exploring new knowledge related to the causes, mechanisms, and possible new treatments of cancer. 
 
As we are often reminded, cancer has an impact on just about all of us directly or indirectly; whether someone is in the fight themselves, in remission, has already conquered it, is supporting a loved one who has been diagnosed, or otherwise knows someone who has been affected. 
 
Your donation to the Campaign for USask can urgently strengthen our exploration into the possibilities of cancer treatment and diagnosis to save lives. 

INNOVATOR: It can be easy to take for granted how much research and production goes into safe and nutritious food before it arrives in grocery stores. Dr. Kirstin Bett (PhD’01), a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, knows that it all begins with a seed. 
 
Dr. Bett and her team at the college’s Crop Development Centre create crop varieties that farmers grow and export around the world as food. What begins as a seed turns into food security, health and sustainability for our planet. 
 
The Be What the World Needs campaign is the perfect opportunity to fund the cutting-edge innovation that will feed the world—innovation that the world unequivocally needs. 

LEADER: In a playing career that earned him induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Scott Flory (BE’99) performed a leading role on the offensive line, winning two Vanier Cups with the Huskies and three Grey Cups with the Montreal Alouettes. Now as head coach, Flory is once again leading Huskie football’s winning tradition—and just like the championship teams he led as a player, he knows that it takes a complete team effort to succeed on and off the field. 
 
Creating visionary spaces is a priority of the Be What the World Needs campaign. Your support can help build and enhance spaces on campus for our Huskie Athletics teams and student-athletes to practice, train, and recover while competing on a national level. These spaces are not only where championship habits are instilled, but where leaders are made. 

CONNECTOR: An associate professor in the College of Kinesiology, Dr. Lee Schaefer connects with Indigenous communities to foster meaningful movement opportunities. Dr. Schaefer’s research is addressing systemic racism and sexism that creates barriers to movement opportunities, such as physical activities and organized sports, for female Indigenous youth. 
 
Leading innovative projects like the Moving Well Together Partnership, a reconciliation focused partnership that fosters relationships between Indigenous communities and USask with hopes of mitigating barriers and enhancing facilitators to physical activity for Indigenous youth. Dr. Schaefer’s work fosters a love for wellness and movement that helps to provide experiential opportunities for Indigenous youth. For example, last fall the College of Kinesiology welcomed over 40 youth from Montreal Lake Cree Nation and Little Red Cree Nation to USask for a wellness retreat alongside USask student-athletes. 
 
As the Campaign for USask strives to support Indigenous achievement, your donation can ensure that programming and research undertaken by Dr. Schaefer can continue to thrive and change lives. 

CONNECTOR: To honour the memory of her late husband Bruce, Chris Gordon (BusAdm’17) has been on a mission to fund research to combat pancreatic cancer. In 2018, Chris established the Be Like Bruce Memorial Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and connected her cause with community groups to accelerate this critical research at USask’s College of Medicine. She also launched the Be Like Bruce Fitness Festival, an athletics-driven fundraiser, which has raised more than $100,000 for pancreatic cancer research. 
 
Last year, Chris was honoured by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Saskatoon Chapter for her advocacy, dedication and philanthropic accomplishments. Her efforts remain an inspiration for those who donate to the Campaign for USask to fund the critical research that is performed at USask. 
 
In the battle against a deadly disease like pancreatic cancer, every day and every dollar matters. 

CHAMPIONS: Maureen (BEd’70) and Gordon Haddock (BComm’72) have owned and operated more than 20 businesses together over the past 50 years. However, the Haddocks are just as well-known as champions for USask, giving back to the university that was the launching pad for their many passion projects. 
 
Maureen and Gordon have nurtured the next generation of entrepreneurs at USask in many ways. Through scholarships, mentorship, and initiatives like the Haddock Entrepreneurial Speaker Series and the Get a Bigger Wagon Young Entrepreneur Awards, the Haddocks have encouraged entrepreneurship as a path to good citizenship. 
 
Maureen and Gordon’s support of student success is one of the objectives of the Campaign for USask. Whether it is fostering a passion for entrepreneurship or another career path, your gift to the campaign can build bonds with students and inspire them to be what the world needs. 

INNOVATOR: A professor in the Drama Department at USask, Deneh’Cho Thompson is the coordinator of the wîcêhtowin Theatre Program, the only practical Indigenous university theatre program in Canada. 
 
In this unique program, emerging First Nations, Métis, and Inuit actors, playwrights and designers—as well as students interested in an Indigenous perspective—deliver meaningful and principled skills in the areas of performance and technical theatre design. 
 
The world needs more representation from Indigenous voices, including in the performing arts. Innovative offerings at USask like the wîcêhtowin Theatre Program help uplift voices that will lead to new innovations into areas of truth and reconciliation. 
 
As Indigenous achievement is a priority of the Be What the World Needs campaign, your donation can support innovative programs at USask that uphold our commitment to Indigenization.

LEADER: Indiana Best (MPH'22) chose USask for her post-grad studies at the School of Public Health to have the opportunity to conduct research with the Métis community, combined with USask’s reputation as a national leader in Indigenization. 
 
Working with Indigenous communities, Indiana’s research has been influential in working with organizations like the Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan strengthen their programs to treat addictions and mental health. She has been recognized with the Indigenous Graduate Leadership Award, a donor-funded scholarship presented to an Indigenous student who leads through community engagement. 
 
Your donation to the Campaign for USask can help fund research like Indiana’s and allow researchers to give back to Indigenous communities through their academic work. 

CONNECTOR: An award-winning musician and acclaimed recording artist, Véronique Mathieu has performed as a solo violinist with world-renowned orchestras. In her role as the David L. Kaplan Chair in the Department of Music, she is instructing and inspiring the next generation of violin virtuosos with her experience and artistic sensibilities. 
 
Professor Mathieu’s work has deepened the Department of Music’s connection with the community, including the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and enhanced the international reach of USask’s musicians. 
 
The David L. Kaplan Chair in Music was made possible by a $2-million donation from alumni Xiaoping (Bob) Xu (MA’92, LLB’17) and Ling Chen (MA’90) and named in honour of their former music professor and former head of the Department of Music. 
 
Your gift to the Be What the World Needs campaign can ensure that students can build a career in performing music and that the world gets to hear it. 

INNOVATOR: Research at USask enters uncharted territory every day. Dr. Robert Laprairie (BSc’10) is the Saskatchewan-GlaxoSmithKline Chair in Drug Discovery and Development in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. His team’s research is focused on the development of new therapies from cannabis and other natural sources. The objective is to develop therapies for people who suffer from epilepsy, depression and anxiety that are not effectively treated by existing treatments.

Dr. Laprairie’s innovative lab research has long-standing benefits for families in Saskatchewan and all over the world who are suffering from illnesses. This research can dramatically change lives, but it needs the support of donors to have maximum and immediate impact.

Donating to the Be What the World Needs campaign allows USask researchers like Dr. Laprairie to fund the salaries of their respective research teams, ensure they have the necessary lab equipment, publish their research, have the opportunity to attend conferences to expand their learning and many more measures to improve quality of life.
CONNECTOR: Michael Akintunde embodies the training and commitment required to set records in the long jump for the Huskie Track and Field team, as he did earlier this year at the Canada West Track and Field Championship. He also personifies the dedication required to excel as a student in the Edwards School of Business.

But even students with Michael’s athleticism and ambition need your support to stay on track.

Your gift to the Campaign For USask can help Huskie student-athletes compete at the highest level, travel to competitions, ensure coaching and training is on par with the Huskies’ competitors across the country, and pursue excellence in their field of study.

Whether on the track or in the classroom, your donation can help students go far, no matter where their finish line is.
CHAMPION: In his role of managing campus planning and real estate at USask, James Cook (BComm’86) works to optimize the university’s 20,000-plus acres of land across the province and nearly 8 million square feet of building space for teaching and research.

In addition to his position, James has also been influential in shaping USask as a donor to several projects to support collections and spaces at the University Library.

It’s champions like James who help make USask the university the world needs through their generosity, passion, and vision. Donating to the Be What the World Needs campaign is a chance to assist students and enhance learning across every acre at USask.