The University of the Fraser Valley welcomed community supporters to its Abbotsford campus on November 10 for the sixth annual Town & Gown, a celebration demonstrating the transformational power of a UFV education.
The event was the first in-person Town & Gown since 2019 and raised $210,690 in support of students. This more than doubled the event goal of raising $100,000 to fund one hundred new scholarships.
UFV President Joanne MacLean welcomed guests and thanked them for supporting UFV. She remarked on the energy on campus as most classes and activities have now returned to in-person formats after the restrictions of the pandemic.
“We have missed connecting with people. These connections make us stronger as a society. They create the powerful energy and strength we draw from community — a community that is beginning to become more diverse. Thank you for the strength you bring to our university and to the Valley.”
Guests were honoured by Stó:lō drummer Xotwes Jonny Williams from the Cheam nation, who presented a meal song and then led guests in learning several Halq’eméylem words and phrases.
Anita Nielsen, Executive Director of Advancement, announced the recipients of the UFV Ripple Makers paddles, presented annually to donors in recognition of their financial support to UFV. Loyalty paddle recipients were honoured for supporting UFV for 15 or more years, with tribute paid to Dr. Malwinder S. Dhami and family (19 years), Paul and Jackie Hogan (17 years), Dr. Sylvie Murray (17 years), Stacey Irwin (17 years), and RBC (20 years) represented by Nicky Kang. The Lifetime paddle, bestowed to donors contributing $100,000 or more, was presented to Dr. Malwinder S. Dhami and Jason Dhami, who received a standing ovation for their family’s longstanding support totalling $228,000.
Several new donations were announced during the evening.
Dr. James Chamberlain, who received an honorary degree from UFV in 2021, established with husband Jean-Marie Russell the 2SLGBTQ+ Pride Endowment Leadership Award. This $25,000 endowment will provide a $1,000 scholarship each year to student leaders engaged in queer activism in the Fraser Valley.
Fellow honorary doctorate recipient Dr. Malwinder S. Dhami delighted guests in attendance when he announced a new pledge of $26,500.
The final surprise gift of the evening was a donation of $40,000 from Karen and Warren Nelson in support of student emergency funding.
Community guests mingled with UFV leadership and student ambassadors, who shared stories of how their university experience has impacted their lives and helped shape their communities.
This year’s student speaker was Bachelor of Business Administration student and scholarship recipient Trisha Kumar, who praised UFV for taking a real-life approach to learning and giving students a chance to conduct meaningful applied research.
“These experiences are crucial,” Kumar said. “They teach students how to ask questions, develop a point of view, recognize challenges, and create solutions. Students need these skills because we’re future leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, lawmakers, and agents of change.”
UFV honoured two alumni with Distinguished Alumni and Young Distinguished Alumni awards.
Matt Douma, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2006, was named Distinguished Alumni for his leadership in nursing education and health research.
Douma is a registered nurse and a health care educator who served on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic and is also building a career as a researcher and academic in the health sciences field. Once he completes his PhD, he hopes to teach full time at the university level at the University of Alberta.
Kara Chan, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2013, received the Young Distinguished Alumni award in recognition of her work in the energy sustainability field.
Chan is an energy sector professional focused on climate resilience policies, currently working in management at Ausgrid, one of Australia’s largest electricity distributors.
Susan Mide Kiss, who recently joined UFV as Vice-President, Community Engagement, presented the Betty Urquhart Community Service award. Betty’s son Andrew attended the event and helped celebrate the award recipients.
Every year, UFV honours a community member or group who makes a difference through volunteer work within an organization or on a specific community project. The Betty Urquhart Award reflects its namesake’s commitment to helping others and aligns with UFV’s commitment to building communities.
“Betty was one of the founding employees of the university and believed strongly in volunteering and giving back. While she passed away in 1995, UFV keeps her memory alive by honouring a person or group exemplifying her commitment to life-long learning and community,” shared Mide Kiss.
UFV recognized two community volunteers this year. Amber Price of Chilliwack was honoured for her extensive community development work and leadership on multiple grassroots initiatives. Anastasia Krapchatova was honoured for leading community initiatives to enhance quality of life for local seniors during the pandemic.
UFV is grateful to the many sponsors who supported Town & Gown including the Presenting Sponsor for the sixth consecutive year, Prospera Credit Union. Additional support was provided by the Reception Sponsor, the UFV Alumni Association; the Platinum sponsors, TD Bank; Gold sponsors, Abbotsford Tech District and Quantum Properties; Silver Sponsors, Chernoff Thompson Architects, Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry, Graham Construction, MNP, Securiguard, Think Space, and Westerra Equipment; Bronze sponsors, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, Abbotsford Community Foundation, G&F Financial Group, Impark, Leaders International Executive Search, RJC Engineers, and Ryan Vending; and Media Partners, The Abbotsford News, The Chilliwack Progress, and The Patrika.
Event partner Dana Hospitality provided a three-course meal while UFV’s Culinary Arts students impressed guests with their appetizers during the Distinguished Alumni Reception. Chaberton Estate Winery and Mission Hill Family Estate donated the wine for the evening.