2014 Alumni of Influence

Eleven new recipients were recognized in 2014.

See the List

5th annual Dean's Dinner and Award Ceremony



The 2014 Alumni of Influence


Gail Appel (BA’66)

Well known for her many endeavours as a philanthropist, social worker and artist, Gail Appel has made possible transformational change in a wide variety of artistic, social and health-related fields.

After receiving her sociology degree from the U of S, Appel attended the Emma Lake Art School from 1959 to 1966, working alongside well-known artists such as William Perehudoff, Dorothy Knowles and Ernest Lindner. She began her career as a social worker in Saskatchewan, and continued in this field after moving to Toronto.

She is the founding president of the C.M. Hinks Institute for Education and Research (the teaching arm of the Hincks Dellcrest Treatment Centre), which fosters post-graduate work for child psychiatry, social work, child care and psychology. Appel directed the institute’s $5 million capital building campaign, and it has since been named in Gail’s honour — now known as the Gail Appel Institute Dellcrest Centre. Appel has also worked in this field at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto, and has served on the board of the Sunnybrook Hospital Foundation.

Gail and her husband, Mark, also helped endow at program at Columbia University’s School of Law that helps control and regulate multi-national corporations. Each year, this program also supports LLM students at Columbia from outside the USA. The Appels were also involved in the Texas-based AUSTIN project, which was Gail’s most significant business project to date.

At the U of S, Appel’s philanthropy has made possible the Gail Appel Lecture Series in Literature and Fine Arts, and helped many students take advantage of valuable study abroad opportunities. She is also a past member of the university’s Board of Governors, and is a former director of Havergal College and the Upper Canada College Foundation. She actively volunteers with many other organizations in Toronton and is currently working on a book entitled, Of Course You Can … Painting From Scratch.

Gordon L. Barnhart - BA’67, PhD’98

Gordon Barnhart is an historian and recognized expert on the Canadian parliamentary process. His extensive experience in government includes 20 years as clerk of the Saskatchewan Legislature and five years as clerk of the Canadian Senate. He has also worked as a consultant to strengthen democratic governance in countries around the world.
Barnhart obtained a PhD in history at the University of Saskatchewan, where he taught political studies and served as University Secretary. He has published several books on prairie history and Saskatchewan political figures.

From 2006 to 2012, Barnhart served as Saskatchewan’s 20th Lieutenant Governor. He was the Chancellor of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and Vice-Prior of the Order of St. John in Saskatchewan. In 2007, Barnhart was named one of the University of Saskatchewan’s 100 Alumni of Influence, and in 2013 was awarded the Peter Lougheed Award for Leadership in Public Policy. He established the Lieutenant Governor’s Leadership Forum to inspire high school students to rise to the challenge of leadership, and this rigorous, annual event exposed participants to the vast educational and career opportunities in the province. In 2006, Barnhart received the province’s highest honour, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.

He and his wife, Naomi, moved back to Saskatoon in 2012. Gordon is a member of the Board of Canada's National History Society and is Chair of the International Minerals Innovation Institute. He is an Adjunct Professor in History at the University of Saskatchewan, and has returned to consulting on governance and historical matters. Barnhart was born and raised in Saltcoats, Sask., and he and Naomi have a blended family of three grown children and five grandchildren.

James Bolton - BA’58, MA’60

An author, professor and researcher in the field of photochemistry, James Bolton has been involved in ultraviolet (UV) applications for more than four decades. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, he received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK. From 1970 to his retirement in 1996, Bolton was a professor and principal member of the Photochemistry Unit in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

He has published more than 170 papers in the field of photochemistry and UV applications. In 1999, he established his own consulting business, Bolton Photosciences Inc.

Bolton co-founded (with Jim Malley and Rip Rice) the International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA) in 1999 and has served as its executive director and editor of IUVA News. He organized the UV Congress in 2005 and co-organized the World Congress on Ozone and Ultraviolet Technologies in Los Angeles 2007. Bolton is also the author of Ultraviolet Applications Handbook (Third Edition) and co-author (with Christine Cotton) of The Ultraviolet Disinfection Handbook.

In 2013, Bolton was honoured by IUVA with a special session in his honour at the World Congress on Ozone and Ultraviolet Technologies in Las Vegas, and received the IUVA’s lifetime achievement award.

Eric Cline - BA’76, LLB’79

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Eric Cline practiced law in Saskatoon for 15 years after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan. He served from 1991 to 2007 in the Saskatchewan Legislature, including 12 years in the provincial Cabinet in senior portfolios including Health, Finance and Industry and Resources. As Saskatchewan's Minister of Finance, he chaired the Provincial-Territorial Finance Ministers during which time the group reached an agreement with the Government of Canada that allowed provinces to create their own personal income tax rules. This enabled, for example, the creation of a new flat tax system in Alberta and a new personal income tax system for Saskatchewan, implemented between 1999 to 2003.

Included in the myriad changes Cline promoted and implemented over five provincial budgets and as Industry minister were: a new royalty system for oil and gas development in Saskatchewan; incentives for mineral exploration; new potash development incentives; and major changes to the corporate income tax system. These changes have been credited by many on both sides of the political spectrum as foundational to Saskatchewan's economic progress over the last decade and the fact Saskatchewan has been a "have" province since 2003.

Cline recounted his political career in a memoir, Making a Difference – Reflections from Political Life, published in 2008. Following his careers in law and politics, in 2007 he resumed full-time life in Saskatoon with his spouse, Pauline Melis, and joined the business community in Saskatoon as a corporate executive. Now a vice president at K + S Potash Canada, he is active in the community and has served on various boards including Saskatoon YMCA, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Theatre Festival, the Saskatchewan Mining Association and the International Minerals Innovation Institute.

John Dewar - BA’86, BEd’88, MEduc’99 (d. 2013)

A highly-accomplished and courageous educator, John Dewar inspired countless others through his many professional, athletic and volunteer pursuits.

While attending the U of S, Dewar was a member of the Huskies basketball team (’81 to ’86) and, later, served as the team’s assistant coach during the 1996-97 season. He was also highly active in other basketball programs throughout the community, including co-founding the Triple S Basketball Camp and serving as basketball coach for Saskatchewan at the North American Indigenous Games in both Minneapolis and Victoria.

In his professional life, Dewar exhibited strong leadership in his many roles as an educator. He rose quickly through the ranks of the Saskatoon Public Schools Division, working as a teacher, vice/assistant principal, principal and superintendent. He became well known in the educational sphere as a supportive and compassionate leader, and promoted an array of collaborative endeavours to ensure high quality learning environments for both students and staff. He oversaw many Aboriginal programming initiatives and was instrumental in establishing the Royal West campus, a facility that helps mature students earn their high school diploma and is home to the College of Arts & Science Transition Program. In addition, he was involved in the planning and establishment of the Community Renewal Project, which focused on restorative justice and youth leadership.

Dewar’s leadership was also evident in the active roles he took on several school division committees, such as: the Okiciyapi Partnership, the Literacy for Life program, the Special Education Strategic Committee, and the Leadership Professional Development Committee. What was always most important to Dewar, however, was his family—being a loving husband to Terry and wonderful father to sons Addison and Alexander.

Frank Farley - BA’60, MA’63

Frank Farley has become one of North America’s most influential and accomplished psychologists, having reached a pinnacle in the profession when he was elected President of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1993. Farley is one of only two living Canadians to have been elected to this position on the APA, the world’s largest psychological society.

Farley is also one of the most sought after media contacts on all things psychology-related, averaging more than 140 media appearances annually. He has been interviewed by USA Today, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, 20/20, Good Morning America, CTV and the CBC—to name but a few.

After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, Farley received his PhD from the University of London. He worked for 29 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before moving to Temple University, where he has remained for 18 years and is currently the institution’s L.H. Carnell Chaired Professor. During his career, Farley has been called to testify before Congress on health care reforms and invited to the White House for consultations by both former First Lady Hilary Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter.

He has published six books and hundreds of other publications, and he has been made a Fellow of many influential organizations, including: American Association for the Advancement of Science; New York Academy of Sciences; American Psychological Association; British Psychological Society; Canadian Psychological Association; and the Association for Psychological Science.

Keith Geddes - BA’68

After graduating from the Universtiy of Saskatchewan, Keith Geddes continued his studies at the University of Toronto, where he completed an MSc in computer science in 1970 and a PhD in 1973. That same year, he joined the University of Waterloo as a faculty member in Computer Science, where he is currently Professor Emeritus. His research interests lie in the areas of computer algebra systems, algebraic algorithms and hybrid symbolic-numeric algorithms for scientific computation.

Geddes was one of the two researchers who initiated the University of Waterloo research project in 1980 that led to the Maple computer algebra system. In 1988, he co-founded Waterloo Maple Inc. (now Maplesoft) and served for many years on its board of directors. He has served as scientific director of the Ontario Research Centre for Computer Algebra (ORCCA) based at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Waterloo.

Geddes is the author or co-author of nearly 50 research publications on topics related to scientific computation and computer algebra algorithms and systems. He is the leading author of the groundbreaking textbook Algorithms for Computer Algebra (with co-authors Czapor and Labahn) and was a major contributor to the foundational algorithms for the Maple computer algebra system.

Namarta Kochar - BA’00

Namarta Kochar, development officer with the University of Saskatchewan’s Office of Advancement and Community Engagement, has made a positive impact as a community volunteer, mentor and role model. A committed volunteer, she has contributed her time and energy to a wide array of programs throughout the country and province, including: Ovarian Cancer Canada; Bridge City Boogie; Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada; The Arthritis Society; Saskatoon Salvation Army; Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan; Folkfest, Children’s Wish Foundation; and Postmedia’s Raise-a-Reader campaign.
Recently appointed as a public representative on the Drug Advisory Committee of Saskatchewan (DACS) for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, Kochar also sits on the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC) for the City of Saskatoon.

She has mentored many Human Resources students for the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals (SAHRP) Mentorship program.

Her outstanding achievements have been recognized by both provincial and municipal organizations. She is the recipient of the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal and the City of Saskatoon’s “Living in Harmony” award for her efforts in promoting intercultural harmony. She was named one of CBC Saskatchewan’s Future 40 in 2013 and a “Champion of Children” by the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation.

Before joining the University of Saskatchewan, Kochar worked as a project director at Refresh, an award-winning marketing and business strategy firm.

Ruth Millar - BA’63

Since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan in 1963, Ruth Millar has spent the past 50 years enriching the province’s cultural fabric and historic awareness through extensive volunteer commitments and a prolific writing career.

Millar worked for many years at the Saskatoon Public Library, including several years as head of the library’s Local History Room. Despite a demanding career and family life, Millar has devoted considerable energy to a wide array of volunteer pursuits over the past half-century. A sampling of these endeavours includes: executive member of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild; board member of Briarpatch magazine; board member of READ Saskatoon; board member of Amnesty International (Saskatoon); and executive member of the Saskatoon Heritage Society. She has also served on numerous social action committees that have provided financial aid to other forms of relief to victims of war, political strife and natural disasters around the world.

An accomplished writer, Millar is the author of Saskatchewan Heroes and Rogues, and co-author of Saskatoon: A History in Photographs. Her latest book, Turning Back the Pages (2013), provides a comprehensive and lively profile of the Saskatoon Public Library’s first 100 years.

One of Saskatchewan’s most respected and well-known regional historians, Millar was awarded a City of Saskatoon Municipal Heritage Award in 2012 for her tireless efforts to document and preserve the city’s past.

Kendal Netmaker - BA’11, BEd’11

The founder and CEO of the Neechie Gear clothing line, Kendal Netmaker, grew up on Sweetgrass First Nation, Sask. He was single-parented, came from a low-income family and had little opportunity to be involved in any extra-curricular activities as a youth. But after meeting a friend from South Africa in elementary school, Netmaker says his life was literally changed forever. This friend noticed Netmaker was naturally athletic and wondered why he wasn't playing on any of the local sports teams. Netmaker told his friend that he had no way of paying the registration fees and no means travelling to and from the games/practices.

Soon after, his South African friend pulled him aside and said, "Kendal, I told my parents what you told me and they want to pay for your fees to play on my soccer team and we can even drive you to the reserve after all games/practices." Netmaker says he was astounded that someone would do this for him and accepted the very kind offer. This family eventually also gave Netmaker’s family a vehicle, which enabled him and his sisters to become involved in sports that carried them through high school and into university. Netmaker earned a volleyball scholarship and graduated from the U of S with a degree in Native Studies and education degree from the Indian Teacher Education Program in 2011.

While studying at the U of S, Netmaker began developing a clothing line. Throughout this process, he won or placed highly in several entrepreneurial competitions, including the 2010 Aboriginal Youth Idea Challenge, 2011 W. Brett Wilson Centre for Entrepreneuial Excellence’s i3 Idea Challenge and the 2011 Progress2Capital Business Planning Competition. Now an established and successful clothing line, Neechie Gear donates a portion of its proceeds to teams and organizations such as KidSport, which helps break down the financial barriers associated with sports for many children in Saskatchewan.

Shannon Skinner - BA’87

“No confidence. No courage. No commitment,” was an attitude that plagued Shannon Skinner until a friend made the shocking announcement that he had less than one year to live. Skinner says she asked herself: “If I had one year to live, what would I do?”

Shortly thereafter, Skinner premiered her television series, Shannon Skinner’s Extraordinary Women TV™, which airs on Rogers TV Toronto and online. As its host and executive producer, Skinner has interviewed hundreds of Canada’s most influential women, including business leaders, entertainers, authors, artists, activists, humanitarians, visionaries and athletes.

Skinner has established herself as a pioneer in internet broadcasting. Her column in the online news journal The Huffington Post and her blog, ShannonSkinner.com, both reach millions of readers each month. She is also the author of the book Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity—a how-to guide to discovering and living your dream—and is currently developing a book series based on Extraordinary Women. 

Skinner’s work and accomplishments have been widely featured in the media, including Good Morning America, Good News Toronto, Global TV, Canadian Living and The Globe & Mail. An active member of the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Toronto, 85 Broads-Toronto (a global network of prominent women) and WIFT/Women in Film and Television, she inspires women around the globe through her keynote addresses and personal appearances.