University of Calgary

University of Calgary

November 16, 2011 15:59 ET

University of Calgary: Unique student leadership program launches

Generous donation enhances student leadership at the University of Calgary

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Nov. 16, 2011) - A unique three-year pilot program that will enhance current student leadership development on campus officially launches this week at the University of Calgary, thanks to a $2.5 million donation from Calgary entrepreneur John Simpson and his family.

"The Simpson family's commitment to cultivating student leadership aligns seamlessly with our goal of ensuring our students graduate with leadership development opportunities that will help them become future leaders," says University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon. "This gift will help us achieve our vision of becoming one of Canada's top five research universities, grounded in innovative learning and teaching and fully integrated with the community of Calgary, by the university's 50th anniversary in 2016," she says of the university's ambitious strategic direction, Eyes High, which was announced this past September.

The gift from the CANA Group of Companies' president and director will be used to centralize and co-ordinate leadership activities on campus through one cohesive program. The goal of Leadership and Student Engagement is to provide all undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to gain valuable personal and professional leadership skills they need through various training and mentorship programs, community service-learning and other support throughout their university career. Already, more than 15,000 students have participated in some aspect of the program, which is the only one of its kind in western Canada.

The Simpson gift will be formally celebrated this Thursday evening at the opening reception for the fifth annual Canadian Conference on Student Leadership (CCSL), one of the many initiatives the program supports.

"Having this kind of support enables the University of Calgary to offer a top-rated leadership program to our students. And now, through this conference, we will be able to expand this program to students on a national level," says conference co-ordinator, Gareth McVicar.

More than 200 student leaders from 26 post-secondary institutions across the country are expected to attend the national conference, which will be held on campus for the second time since its inception in 2006. Students will enhance their leadership skills, learn and discuss relevant student issues and be inspired by community leaders through student-facilitated workshops, networking activities and keynote speeches from entrepreneur and philanthropist, W. Brett Wilson and author and activist Conor Grennan.

The CSSL takes place at the University of Calgary from Nov. 17 – 20, 2011.

The Canadian Conference on Student Leadership (CCSL) was founded by student leaders at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2006. The conference brings students and professional leadership educators from across the country to meet and discuss student and student related issues as they pertain to leadership. For more information on the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership visit

Conference schedule of events

Nov.17, 2011

7:30 p.m. CSSL Opening reception

Welcome to conference attendants and Simpson family gift announcement Alberta Room, Dining Centre

8 p.m. Student Leadership café

Students will break into groups to discuss topics in leadership

8 p.m. President Elizabeth Cannon and Christie Simpson (representative of the Simpson family) available to speak with media.

Nov.18, 2011

9:15 a.m. W. Brett Wilson to judge student business plan competition

In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) club from the Haskayne School of Business held a business plan competition. The top three finalists will present business concepts to W. Brett Wilson.

NuWest Commons, second floor, Scurfield Hall

11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. W. Brett Wilson's opening keynote address for CSSL

W. Brett Wilson will address over 200 conference attendants from post-secondary institutions across Canada. His keynote address is entitled:

Still Making Mistakes

MacEwan Ballroom, MacEwan Student Centre

1 p.m. – 2 p.m. W. Brett Wilson available to speak with media

Nov. 19, 2011

10:10 a.m – 11:10 a.m. Conor Grennan's keynote address

Conor Grennan is the founder and president of Next Generation Nepal, an organization dedicated to reuniting trafficked children with their parents in Nepal. He is also the author of Little Princes, the 2011 selection for the University of Calgary's common reading program

MacEwan Hall A, MacEwan Student Centre

11:20 a.m. – noon Conor Grennan available to speak with media

Media Availability:

Media are invited to attend any of the events listed above.

President Cannon, Christie Simpson, keynote speakers and conference organizers are also available to speak with media. Please book ahead with Jenny De Guia to ensure availability.

President Elizabeth Cannon, University of Calgary

Christie Simpson, representative of the Simpson family

W. Brett Wilson, keynote speaker

Conor Grennan, keynote speaker

Gareth McVicar, conference co-ordinator

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