Meet the Energizers
The visionaries, legends and game-changers who drove the campaign—and brought it home
Diane and Doug Hunter
Hardscrabble prairie beginnings aren’t unusual around here. It is rare, however, for those roots to flourish into a vision that elevates the leaders of our future. Diane, BA’69, MA’71, Hon. LLD’19, and Doug Hunter, Hon. LLD’19, both grew up in Western Canada in tough economic circumstances. They married shortly after high school and took turns working and going to university. In 1971, they took a leap, starting a small oil-and-gas consulting firm. Fearless, resourceful and collaborative by nature, the Hunters taught their kids to identify problems and run with their ideas. Their extraordinary gifts to UCalgary have likewise proven that entrepreneurs aren’t born — they’re made. In 2012, the Hunter Family Foundation created the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haskayne School of Business and, six years later, their $40-million donation established the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. Their gifts have provided unique teaching and learning models and spaces, mentorship opportunities, seed funding, and a strong, dynamic foundation for fueling innovation rooted in every faculty. Humble and fearless as ever, the Hunters remain the poster couple for a movement that’s transformed our city’s approach to global success.
Dr. Chen Fong
Radiologist, professor emeritus of the Faculty of Medicine, member of the Order of Canada and dynamic business leader, Dr. Chen Fong, MD, Hon. LLD’19, is perhaps most proud of the positive mark he has made as a mentor to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Dr. Fong is a co-founder of UCalgary’s Creative Destruction Lab Rockies, launched mid-way through the Energize campaign, and co-chair of
CDL-Rockies' Global Strategy Board. He’s a driving force for strengthening connections, diversifying our economy and elevating excellence in the community — both through his own innovative ventures (he’s the “F” in EFW Radiology and has spearheaded many other startups), as well as by raising funds for health care and academia. Dr. Fong’s inspiring involvement in CDL-Rockies helps students, faculty and community members, alike, sharpen objectives, prioritize resources, raise capital and otherwise successfully translate good ideas and knowledge into commercial enterprises. While having a brilliant mind for medicine and business certainly doesn’t hurt one’s chances for success, Dr. Fong believes the secret to cultivating a robust and future-forward world is, as he once put it: “to hang around with the young people because they have so many bright ideas.”
Six years after it was announced, Geoff Cumming’s gift to UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine still elicits a double take. At $100 million, it remains the largest single philanthropic gift in the university’s history. Made in honour of his late father, an Ontario physician, the donation forever changed the course of our medical school. Cumming, BA’74, Hon. LLD’16 — a soft-spoken international businessman who divides his time between Canada and New Zealand — is equal parts compassion and vision. With a focus on spurring breakthroughs in brain and mental health, and treatment and prevention of chronic disease, he was determined to dramatically raise the bar on medical research and education in southern Alberta, and propel the medical school to a major player on the global stage (he succeeded — which means we all succeeded). The power and potential of Cumming’s gift has consistently attracted global leaders in medical research to the Cumming School of Medicine. It also opened the renowned International Microbiome Centre and put UCalgary at the forefront of such research; established the Centre for Health Infomatics to advance health-data access and management; significantly improved our understanding of brain function in health and disease through advances in CSM’s Neurotechnologies Platforms; created a program to carve out time and space for critical research targeting precision medicine and public health; and has leveraged millions of dollars in research funding through other partners. Cumming credits his parents for his own striving to spark change in the world. “They always said life should have high purpose,” he says. Indeed, he’s done them exceedingly proud.
Just months into the Energize campaign, Calgary entrepreneur David Werklund, Hon. LLD’12, put the Faculty of Education on the map with the largest-ever gift from an individual to a Canadian education faculty. You’ll forgive us for turning to an overused descriptor, but his $25-million gift was, indeed, a game-changer. Werklund’s support quite literally changed the way education is taught at this university by making new technology available, enriching student scholarships, developing international teaching exchanges, and establishing a fund for undergraduate conferences and research. An Alberta farm boy turned global industry leader, Werklund’s brand of philanthropy is rooted in personal, meaningful change that brings out the best in future teachers. “Through the Werklund School of Education, I would like to see teachers given tools to help them truly connect with their students,” he once said in response to the inevitable question, Why give your money to a teaching program? His vision was clear, and the result is a powerhouse of excellence in teaching and learning.
Gail and David O’Brien
If you weren’t already convinced of the significant positive impact of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health on research, knowledge-translation and network-building, certainly the COVID-19 global pandemic has brought its immeasurable value into stark relief. Robustly reimagined through a $12-million gift from Gail and David O’Brien, both Hon. LLD’10, the interdisciplinary institute — whose members are appointed throughout the Cumming School of Medicine, as well as in the faculties of law, social work and The School of Public Policy — is dedicated to improving public health and health care. As is the O’Briens’ passion, the Institute is a hub for innovative minds across the health sciences spectrum to advocate for better solutions and models of care, and to generate crucial data to improve health care for everyone. Over the past number of months, Institute researchers have mobilized their scientific expertise to tackle COVID-19; they are assessing Alberta’s preparedness and response policies; studying virus spread-dynamics; seeking to understand the socio-cultural implications of COVID; and studying clinical trial uptakes. It’s critical work that speaks to the tremendous vision — and optimism — of donors determined to create a brighter future for all of us.
Elizabeth Cannon and Gerard Lachapelle
“Geomatics engineer” likely isn’t your first guess of a career match for a young woman growing up in Charlottetown in the 1960s. That was precisely the dream, however, that drew Dr. Elizabeth Cannon,
BSc (Eng)’84, MSc (Eng)’87, PhD’91, president emerita and former dean of the Schulich School of Engineering to Calgary, and kept her here. Dr. Cannon and her husband, Dr. Gerard LaChapelle, PhD — also an award-winning professor emeritus from SSE — met in the 1980s working in the then-new and (still) exciting field of GPS. Together, they have published on and patented dozens of innovations to advance the commercial application of satellite-based navigation systems. Meanwhile, their collective passion for research at UCalgary has always been in step with their desire to empower students to think entrepreneurially; indeed, that’s one of the driving priorities behind the ambitious Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High that Dr. Cannon spearheaded during her tenure as president. Proof of the couple’s commitment to sparking change lies in their establishment of the $1-million Cannon Lachapelle Award in Entrepreneurial Thinking. The scholarship fuels up to four undergraduate students each year in any discipline to explore innovation that builds community and elevates excellence around the world. (Were you expecting anything less from a bold and brilliant girl from P.E.I.?)
Dr. Baljit Singh
He’s the dean of Veterinary Medicine in a city 10,000 kilometres from where he was born and raised. It’s an image of his father on the veranda of his house in that Punjab village, however, that serves as a guiding light for Dr. Baljit Singh, DVM. Dr. Singh’s philanthropic motives come from a desire to spark compassionate community-building — the sort of expansive, collaborative vibe his dad cultivates by hosting coffee chats every morning with anyone who stops by to discuss and support positive action. “To this day, my father keeps a half-dozen chairs on the verandah in the village where I grew up,” says Dr. Singh. “That tradition to support efforts and people in the community gave me the focus I carry with me today as a person, as a teacher, as a dean.” His establishment of the Komagata Maru UVCM Travel Award provides financial assistance and promotes understanding of global citizenship through conferences and student activities. “We build better community by learning to understand the world a little better — I wish that for every student.”
On his ninth birthday, Cade Morey invited a dozen friends out for Nerf wars and cake — pretty typical Grade 4 fare — but with one quite atypical caveat: he kindly asked his friends to not buy him gifts. Instead, Cade requested that anything they might have spent on their friends’ special day was instead directed to a fundraiser he had going. “I wanted to raise money for cancer research because my papa is sick,” said Cade, now 11. Cade's “papa” — what he calls his grandfather, Terry Morey — had been diagnosed in 2013 with Stage 4 lung cancer. While it’s been a tough few years for Terry, he did eventually test positive for candidacy for genetic biomarkers that have made him eligible for precision medicine treatment. An emerging field (and an Energize campaign priority area), a precision medicine approach means that doctors can use an individual’s genetic information to more accurately strategize disease treatment. Terry has had good success with various targeted drugs; his CT scans have shown some regression in his tumours. Cade, who managed to raise $400 for the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine, says he felt good knowing he was contributing to beneficial research. “I want my papa to stay with us for a long time.”
Don and Ruth Taylor
The Taylor name has long been synonymous with UCalgary. The family’s gifts to this campaign, and to previous initiatives, created our 21st-century library, and have dramatically boosted teaching capacity, information technology and the preservation of local history — and physically transforming our campus. The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning alone — just one of their many passions — is not only a spectacular, inspiring piece of architecture but, as intended, it has sparked the development of an extraordinary community that dramatically elevates inquiry-based student learning and teaching research and training, here and around the world. Don, Hon. LLD’07, will recount his own tough time as a young teacher as motivation for his support of this one-of-a-kind program, but his desire to spark lasting positive change quite clearly extends well beyond his own experience. He and Ruth share a passion for preparing and inspiring students — in large part, by ensuring those who teach them are prepared and inspired. More than any walls or windows that the heart behind that drive — their devotion to the enrichment and success of people — that shapes the future of this campus and our community.
Richard (Dick) and Lois Haskayne
Renowned for his corporate leadership savvy as much as for his ethical integrity, Richard (Dick) Haskayne, Hon. LLD’97 — for whom a handshake deal has never gone out of fashion — is the steadfast backbone of business education in Calgary. An industry leader and member of the Order of Canada, Haskayne and his wife Lois’s contributions have helped propel UCalgary up the list of the top-ranked faculties in the world. Their support has empowered the school to raise the bar on experiential teaching and learning and diversified its world-class programs. Through all of it, the Haskaynes always come back to student success. Their recent gift to the Energize campaign marks the largest student scholarship ever given to the business school. The Richard and Lois Haskayne Legacy Scholarship will ensure five undergraduate students will get a full-ride scholarship through their program. “While it’s nice for me to have our name associated with the university, the people who are going to establish the reputation over time are the students,” says Dick. The Haskaynes' support is tangible proof of their inspiring perspective that, in business and every other sector, people come first. As Lois puts it: “All of us are given some capacity or other to make a difference in the world.” Indeed.