The Spirit of Achievement

Every year we honour some of our most distinguished alumni and friends at the UBC Alumni Achievement Awards. Our 2011 recipients are being recognized for their work in cancer research, volunteerism, writing, social advocacy, alumni engagement, healthcare and sustainability.

This year’s recipients have been announced. 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Nelly Auersperg, PhD’68


Pioneering researcher in gynecological cancers who has worked tirelessly to increase understanding of ovarian cancer and the possibilities for its treatment.

Dr. Nelly Auersperg is a pioneer of gynecological cancer research who has focused her career on advancing the medical community’s ability to detect ovarian cancer at its early stages. In 1974, when she received the first of many research grants from the Canadian Cancer Society, few others were studying the disease. This dearth of research meant that Dr. Auersperg needed to develop many of the tools used to study the cancer in vitro herself, leading to discoveries that have increased our understanding of the disease and led to promising new possibilities for treatment and survival.

Throughout her career, Nelly has been a prolific researcher and author, with more than 190 refereed journal articles and more than 11 book chapters to her name. She has also been a remarkable teacher, mentoring more than 60 graduate and post-graduate students over the years. Many of those who benefited from her tutelage have forged successful research careers of their own.

Nelly’s incredible achievements have not gone unrecognized by her peers or society at large. In 2008, Simon Fraser University awarded her with an honorary degree and in 2007 she received the UBC Faculty of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1985 she was named a Terry Fox Research Scientist and in 2003 the BC Women’s Hospital established the Nelly Auersperg Award in Women’s Health Research.

Nelly’s work continued long after her official retirement from UBC in 1994. In fact, she held research grants and carried out experiments for another 15 years, and published her most recent article in early 2011. She remains an honorary professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UBC, a trailblazing figure in ovarian cancer research, and a trusted mentor to a new generation of researchers.

Alumni Award of Distinction

George Bowering, BA’60, MA’63, DLit’94

Canada’s first poet laureate and one of the most influential and prolific writers of his generation, with more than 90 published works to his name, spanning many literary genres.

Dr. George Bowering is one of the most influential and prolific writers in Canadian literary history. A national historian, essayist, short-story writer, novelist, editor and children’s author, he is a prime example of the artistic talent that UBC is proud to foster. The quantity, originality and relevance of his work have distinguished him as an international artist, leading him to be honored as the first poet laureate of Canada. George has given the world more than 90 published books and has edited more than 20 others, revolutionizing the art of contemporary Canadian poetry along the way.

George’s passion for writing began early. A year before he obtained his MA in English from UBC, he had already published his play, The Home for Heroes. Upon graduating in 1963 he published Sticks & Stones, his first collection of poems, and by 1967 had published three more along with a novel and a chapbook. His output soared as quickly as his reputation and influence on the Canadian and then international literary scene. In 1969, a mere six years after graduation, George received the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. In 1980 he received a Governor General’s Award for Fiction, becoming one of a select few to receive the award in both categories (putting him in the company of Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood). His life’s work has been recognized by both UBC and the University of Western Ontario with honorary doctorates. Topping off a lengthy list of accolades are his standing as a member of the Order of British Columbia and officer of the Order of Canada.

George’s influence can also be seen outside the literary world. He is a notable local and national historian and an emeritus professor of English at Simon Fraser University. Not content with reiterating conventional approaches to Canadian writing, he encourages the creative talents of the younger generation. George mentors aspiring authors, thus ensuring a brighter future for the Canadian arts.

Honorary Alumnus Award

Marie Earl

Former executive director of the UBC Alumni Association who transformed the approach to alumni relations and negotiated a strong new partnership with the university.

From 2005 to 2010, UBC’s alumni community had no greater advocate than Marie Earl. Her arrival on campus to assume leadership of alumni affairs marked a new era in alumni relations and a determined push to engage one of the university’s largest constituent groups. Under her leadership, “alumni” was absorbed into the university lexicon and UBC grads became as much a part of the conversation as students, faculty and staff. Due in large part to her dedication and hard work in this area, the university’s strategic plan, Place and Promise, now includes alumni engagement as one of its key components.

Marie’s experience demonstrates her long-time commitment to advancing educational institutions. Her goal of delivering the best services possible to alumni, and of utilizing their expertise to benefit current students and their institution, began at her alma mater, Stanford University. As director of alumni relations there she successfully restructured the association’s practices, bringing alumni engagement to the forefront. As a result, the number of active volunteers quadrupled over her four-year term.

It is difficult to overstate the impact of Marie’s arrival at UBC. She oversaw a momentous change in the Alumni Association’s practices, renewing its relationship with the university and showcasing the importance of increased alumni engagement. As a result of her collaborative and inclusive leadership, UBC now has one of the best alumni engagement programs in North America, and Marie is considered a top expert in her field.

Marie serves as a mentor to other alumni professionals worldwide and is currently pursuing a professional coaching certificate.  As a former elite long distance runner, Marie coaches athletes as well.   She is particularly proud of the more than 1000 marathoners she coached through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program, who raised more than five million dollars for research and patient services.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Rahim Moloo, LLB’05

Exceptional law grad with strong leadership skills who has advised on international dispute settlements and is currently general counsel at the University of Central Asia.

An extraordinary reputation usually results from many years of dedication and hard work. But Rahim Moloo, not yet 30, is a notable exception to that norm. With a list of achievements longer than that of most people twice his age and a CV that could shame top executives, Rahim epitomizes the enormous potential that UBC graduates possess.

As a UBC law student, he won several debating championships for UBC including the Canadian National Debating Championships and the World Public Speaking Championships. He also volunteered as chairperson of the Faculty Council Student Caucus. For these accomplishments and more, in his final year at UBC Rahim was recognized by The Globe and Mail as a “face of BC’s future.”

Soon after completing his degree, Rahim went on to pursue a master’s in international law at New York University – the leading program in the field – and graduated as all-university valedictorian. His research focused on the settlement of international disputes involving nation states, and NGO involvement in the United Nations’ decision-making processes. Soon, his talent was noticed by White & Case LLP, a leading international law firm, where Rahim advised governments and multinationals in international disputes. While working for the firm, Rahim published several articles and gave lectures on hot-button issues including post-conflict development, foreign investment, international arbitration and corruption. He currently holds fellowships at the University of Cambridge and Columbia University through which he continues his research on issues of international law..

Recently, Rahim moved to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to join the University of Central Asia, part of the Aga Khan Development Network, as general counsel and board secretary. His involvement will help develop the region through research and education around issues facing rural and mountain communities, and by bringing jobs and capital to the three towns  where the campuses are based. Though many might feel compelled by such a cause, few would make the sacrifice of moving across the world in an attempt to make a difference.

Outside of his professional achievements, Rahim has taken on a community leadership role. For instance, he used his platform as a finalist on the CBC TV show, Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister, to promote access to post-secondary education; he was a founding member the interfaith Jewish-Muslim group, OliveBranch; and he has assisted underrepresented groups obtain increased health care services in the United States.  On top of everything else he does, Rahim is a proud and dedicated husband and father.

Blythe Eagles Volunteer Leadership Award

Jane Hungerford, BEd’67

Devoted volunteer with extensive fundraising and board involvement experience who has supported some of the largest organizations in BC.

Jane Hungerford’s record of volunteer service and community leadership sets a gold standard for civic duty. Over the past 40 years, she has focused her efforts on education, conservation, healthcare and social services, raising millions of dollars for crucial research and services.

Jane began her lengthy community-service career in 1971 when she joined the Junior League of Vancouver, which gave her a valuable grounding in effective fundraising and governance. She has since lent her time and influence in support of a wealth of causes.

One of the beneficiaries of her efforts is The Salvation Army. Jane initiated the organization’s Hope in the City lunches that are held annually, most recently to raise money to fight human trafficking. On the conservation front, she is involved in the work of the Pacific Salmon Foundation – especially its auction dinners, which started 20 years ago and are now held province-wide raising millions for local community-focused salmon conservation projects.

With a degree in education from UBC, Jane supports quality learning opportunities; she was a founding member of the board that established Science World and was central to fundraising efforts that secured more than $20M for this popular Vancouver landmark. Jane has also volunteered at UBC. As elected chair of the UBC Alumni Association, she led efforts to restructure and redefine the role of alumni in university affairs. As co-chair of the UBC Rowing Boathouse fundraising committee, she helped raise $10 million for the UBC rowing program, building a world-class boathouse facility in Richmond. She also serves on the advisory board for the Business Families Centre at the Sauder School of Business. Jane’s most recent commitment is to serve on the board of the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, which recently established its new home in Calgary.

Jane’s most notable achievement is the mark she has left on the BC Cancer Foundation. She was a board member for 15 years and served as chair for five. During her leadership tenure she oversaw Canada’s then largest health care campaign that raised more than $135(M). A new BC Cancer Research Centre was built, the Michael Smith Genome Science Centre was created and a new Vancouver Island Cancer Centre in Victoria was constructed. She also established the annual Inspiration Gala, raising both awareness and research funding for a specific cancer each year. In just four years, the galas have raised $9M. Jane also served on the BC Cancer Agency board for 10 years. To this day, she remains a passionate philanthropist and ardent supporter of campaigns to beat cancer.

Outstanding Future Alumnus Award

Meghan Macdonald, BSc’05, MD’11

Medical resident and decorated scholar who has been involved in important health initiatives involving vulnerable populations.

As a decorated scholar, community volunteer and determined athlete, Meghan MacDonald is an exceptionally well-rounded individual and an inspiration to her peers. Since her nomination and selection for this award, Meghan has graduated from the Faculty of Medicine. Her long list of honours and achievements provides a small preview of the bright future awaiting her.

Meghan earned her first degree in nutrition from the faculty of science at UBC in 2005, receiving the Wilfred Sadler Memorial Gold Medal as the top graduating student. During this period, she became involved with the Community Health Initiative by Undergraduate Students (CHIUS), a student-led organization focused on serving the healthcare needs of marginalized people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Upon her return to UBC as a medical student, Meghan offered her services to CHIUS again and was chosen as public relations co-chair of its executive committee. She also supervised and provided leadership for new students volunteering to provide patient care.

Meghan has also been involved with the Vancouver Native Health Clinic, which provides similar services to those of CHIUS. Furthermore, she spent a month volunteering in Costa Rica and worked with the UBC faculty of medicine’s summer student internship program, where she began the process of updating the nutrition education component of the undergraduate medical program.

Taking part in these initiatives has made her a better collaborator and is certain to benefit her in her career as a physician. Despite the demands of her significant extra-curricular involvement, Meghan maintained an outstanding academic record. She received several prestigious scholarships, including the Hamber Medal for being the top student in her Doctor of Medicine Degree and is working toward publishing her research.

In her pursuit to achieve balance between her professional and personal life, Meghan has proven an avid runner; she has completed the Royal Victoria Marathon and four half marathons.

Outstanding Faculty Community Service Award

Felix Durity, BA’58, MD’63

Neurosurgeon and humanitarian who has dedicated his life to improving neurosurgical care at home and abroad.

Dr. Felix Durity is not only one of the most respected neurosurgeons in Canada but also a renowned humanitarian who has dedicated his life to seeking out the best possible neurosurgical care for the people of British Columbia and beyond. He has provided vital education for the next generation of clinicians and researchers in BC and in Canada, as well as developing programs for neurosurgical care in developing countries in collaboration with local partners..

His devotion to providing the best treatment for his patients and his determination in ensuring the ongoing progress of neurosurgical care have led to a multitude of prestigious teaching and clinical excellence awards. In 1998 he was named one of the “Best Doctors in Canada” and in 2005 he was inducted into the Order of British Columbia. He has also been honored with the Primus Inter Pares award  from the Vancouver Medical Association and the Cam Coady Medal for Excellence in the areas of education and humanitarianism.

Felix, now a professor emeritus in UBC’s department of surgery, was the first resident to be trained in neurosurgery at UBC. He later trained internationally with world renowned surgeons, ensuring that people in BC had access to a clinician capable of the most difficult and complex operations. During his chairmanship of The BC Medical Service Foundation, from 2006 to 2010, several impactful community-focused health care programs were accomplished. He also chaired UBC’s division of neurosurgery. While at UBC, he published more than 30 peer reviewed manuscripts and was able to increase research funding by more than 1600 per cent between 1991 and 1997. His dedicated commitment to teaching has been recognized with three undergraduate and postgraduate teaching awards.

Felix’s humanitarian endeavors are as exceptional as his medical contributions. Most notably, he is a founding board member of the Korle Bu Neuroscience Foundation, which provides support for improving the care of patients with neurological disorders in Ghana and West Africa. Despite his extremely busy life at home in Vancouver, Felix welcomed every opportunity to travel to Africa, providing patient care as well as mentorship and guidance to the neurosurgeons of the region.

Global Citizenship Award

M. Hosny El Lakany, PhD’69

Dedicated humanitarian and environmentalist who has worked with the UN on issues involving the sustainability of forests and the well-being of people who depend on them.

Dr. M. Hosny El Lakany has dedicated his life to pushing the environmental agenda on the world stage. During his four-decade career, he has not only conducted novel and award-winning research but also applied it to shape policies addressing some of the world’s most imperative issues. These include deforestation, land degradation, climate change, globalized trade and investment, forest governance, poverty reduction and natural resource conservation.

Hosny began his distinguished career at the University of Alexandria, Egypt, where he received his master’s degree in forestry in 1966. After completing a doctorate at UBC, it took just a few years of field work and research before he established himself as a leader in his profession. Recognizing his potential, the United Nations recruited Hosny as regional forester for the Near East and Northern Africa. A few rewarding years later he was promoted to head of the forestry department at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. This position is referred to as “Chief Forester of the World” by insiders. His hard work led to the creation of policies and protocols that continue to protect the world in the face of climate change and environmental exploitation. He has advocated for the sustainable management and protection of the world’s forests, and the people that depend upon them, at countless international conferences, symposia and meetings of world leaders.

In addition to being a humanitarian and environmentalist, Hosny is an exceptional scientist. Research that he conducted decades ago is still being used to mitigate the effects of climate change. In the 1970s and 80s he focused on breeding highly resilient trees that are critical to the supply of firewood and shelter throughout arid, developing countries. In all, he has published more than 110 scientific papers and co-edited one book.

Hosny continues to share his immense wealth of expertise and knowledge and is frequently invited to speak at prestigious conferences. Dr El Lakany is currently an adjunct professor and director of the International program in the Faculty of Forestry.