The A. Gordon Archibald Award recognized alumni who distinguished themselves as dedicated Dalhousie volunteers. The award paid tribute to those who made significant contributions to advancing Dalhousie by giving their time, talent and expertise. As of 2019, alumni are now recognized with the Aurum Awards.


Susan Keating-Bekkers, DipDH’91

When Susan Keating-Bekkers heard that the future of a Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry program providing hands-on experience to students and treatment to Halifax Regional Municipality newcomers was in jeopardy due to lack of funding, she knew she had to take action.

“It seemed such a shame to cancel a great teaching clinic, especially one serving people who have never received oral health care,” Keating-Bekkers recalls. “I reached out to the dean and asked what it would take to keep this program in place, and we worked together to create an endowed fund that would support it.”

That fund, the Oral Health Care Initiatives for Nova Scotia Immigrants, is one of many ways that this dental hygienist and Faculty of Dentistry instructor is giving back to Dalhousie. Through her extensive volunteer work and financial gifts, Keating-Bekkers is playing a key role in enhancing the university’s educational experience, providing assistance to students in completing their studies and ensuring that marginalized communities throughout the municipality have full access to oral care. Her boundless enthusiasm, bold ideas and dedication to her alma mater have put smiles on the faces of faculty, students and patients alike, and have earned her the 2017 A. Gordon Archibald Award from the Dalhousie Alumni Association. The award recognizes volunteers for their service to the university.

Identifying a need

“Susan does not wait to be approached,” says Faculty of Dentistry professor Angela Nowe (DipDH ’94), who has known Keating-Bekkers for 15 years. “She identifies a need and then creates an opportunity to give back. Through her generosity, she has made a significant contribution both to the advancement of our university and the wider community.”

Keating-Bekkers’s contributions to the university began in 2012 with the Keating-Bekkers Award, a scholarship that provides financial assistance to Dental Hygiene students entering their second year of studies. The following year, she established a fund for the North End Community Health Clinic, which delivers dental services to disadvantaged community members in the municipality’s north end. In 2014, she launched the Oral Health Care Initiatives for Nova Scotia Immigrants Fund and followed that with the creation of the Oral Health Rehabilitation Fund, which gives students experience in treating extreme cases of pain and tooth loss. But there is one other contribution that you should be aware of: Keating-Bekkers works as a volunteer faculty instructor, which frees up more funds for education and treatment.

“My goal is to provide dental care to as many people as possible,” Keating-Bekkers explains. “It’s an important part of our overall health, but there isn’t much support out there for people to access oral health if they don’t have money.

“Dalhousie has outreach programs and students that provide services to the community,” she continues. “It was crystal clear that if I supported the Faculty of Dentistry, it would have a significant impact for everyone. Students receive great learning experiences, people gain access to quality oral care and it improves the university’s dental program immensely. It’s a win-win-win.”

“Compassionate, caring and devoted”

Dr. Tom Boran, the former dean of the faculty, is delighted to see Keating-Bekkers’s service to Dalhousie recognized with the A. Gordon Archibald award. “I don’t know of anyone who is more compassionate, caring and devoted to ensuring our students receive the best oral health education grounded in giving back to our much-needed communities and always ensuring respect for the peoples we service.”

“I’m always thinking about helping others,” Keating-Bekkers explains. “My parents constantly encouraged me to think about how I can serve my community, so it’s pretty much in my blood. I think it’s in all of us. We can all give something. It doesn’t have to be money. It could be anything. I just know that when I give, my heart gets bigger and there is nothing that can compare with that feeling.”

Keating-Bekkers says it was a surprise and honour to receive the A. Gordon Archibald Award, and to read the letters of support that friends and colleagues submitted. “I was humbled. I’ve never done this for attention or limelight. But I can use opportunities like this to share my story and encourage others to do good things. If just one person is inspired to donate their time or money to the Faculty of Dentistry or anything that interests them, that would be great.”

For now, Keating-Bekkers is content to continue volunteering with the Faculty of Dentistry and adding to the funds she’s created to ensure they benefit professors, students and patients for years to come. But if an opportunity presents itself to do more, Keating-Bekkers is ready to step up.

“There is always a need for more programs and treatment, and there are ways to go beyond the funds and programs we have now. Dalhousie gave me the knowledge and skills to do what I do, so whatever I can do to support the university in delivering education and oral care, I’ll do it, because that makes me happy.”


Kevin Bourgeois, MBA’96

Kevin BourgeoisWhen Kevin Bourgeois found out he’d been recognized with the 2016 Dalhousie Alumni Association A. Gordon Archibald Award, he felt overwhelmed.

“I was completely blown away,” says Bourgeois, a horizontal jumps and combined events coach with the University’s Track and Field program.

“Particularly when I discovered the past honourees were Order of Canada and honourary doctorate recipients. These are people who have made a profound impact on society, and it was incredible to think anyone would put me in the same category as them.”

Inspiring Dal’s student athletes

Bourgeois has made an impact in his own way on society, and on Dalhousie University, through involvement with the varsity Track and Field program. Over the past 12 years, he has committed thousands of volunteer hours to making the program one of the best in Canada, producing many provincial, regional and national champions.

“He has been responsible for recruiting top athletes on the team year after year,” says Jessica Shannon, team captain, who credits Bourgeois for helping her become a nationally ranked Canadian Inter-University Sport (CIS) Athlete.

“He’s inspired athletes and helped develop them in their respective events, producing CIS athletes and national team members. He brings an enthusiasm and a passion to the sport that is unparalleled.”

Former Dalhousie varsity athlete Simon Watts agrees. “I can recall him being an ever-present, enthusiastic guiding force,” says Watts, who is  a current assistant coach with the Track and Field program.

“He was always prepared to give advice, find solutions and keep things in perspective.  It’s the passion, sacrifice and enthusiasm of people like Kevin that breed the future leaders within the community and sport.”

A reciprocal relationship

For his part, Bourgeois says the opportunity to help Dalhousie athletes achieve their dreams, both on and off the field, is what keeps him coming back year after year.

“The students I coach are more than athletes. They’re incredibly bright and well-rounded young adults who have amazing futures ahead of them. They want to be good students, ambassadors of the university and role models, and I get to help them do that – to encourage them to make a difference.”

In turn, working with students like Watts and Shannon has inspired Bourgeois to be a better coach and person.

“They’ve taught me a lot about patience that I’ve been able to bring back into my work and family, so the relationship I have with them is really a two-way street.”

An ongoing commitment to Dalhousie

More than an exceptionally dedicated coach, Bourgeois has also proven himself to be a top financial supporter of the Track and Field program. Through his ongoing contributions, he’s helped make the team more competitive, covering expenses such as travel and new equipment.

“I believe you have to give back, especially if you have the means to do it. That’s how you make change happen. I never wanted to make one contribution and be done. I wanted to build something sustainable so that it goes on beyond me.

“That’s why I contribute regularly: because I want to encourage more people to make a gift to the program, and to athletics in general at Dalhousie.”

Bourgeois says it has been the support of his family – his wife, Maggie, and four children, Abby, Becca, Liam and Ben – that has made it possible for him to dedicate his time and energy to the Track and Field team over the past twelve years. It is his hope he can continue his involvement and contributions for years to come.

“I want it to remain an awesome program with great coaches, one that is well funded and continues to attract well-rounded athletes who win national championships and make a difference in society.”

He pauses a moment, and then laughs. “That’s not too much to ask, is it?”


Dr. Douglas C. Mackay, BComm’53, LLD’93

Dr. Douglas C. Mackay (BComm’53, LLD’93)He had a spectacular career in the investment business, but Dr. Douglas C. Mackay (BComm’53; LLD’93) is the first to admit that it hasn’t always been an easy ride. In fact, he almost didn’t make it through first-year university.

“I did not get off to a good start at Dalhousie,” he recalls. “I did make the varsity hockey team and we won the Eastern Canadian championships. But I got hooked on bridge, often playing for six or seven hours a day. And when the government allowed pubs to open for the first time in 1948, I spent many hours at the Lord Nelson Pub, which was always packed with students. As a result, I skipped a lot of classes and nearly flunked my first year.”

Mackay joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity and was the only person living in the frat house that was not a war veteran. “These veterans were trying to make up for four lost years,” he says. “They worked very hard during the week and played hard on the weekends.”

Their work ethic had a profound influence on Mr. Mackay’s life. He pulled up his bootstraps, hit the books and fully immersed himself in the university experience.

He moved to Toronto, where he embarked on a 40-year career in the investment business. Starting as a salesman, he was quickly promoted to branch manager and later general sales manager. He moved on to take over the new issue department and was responsible for managing and launching some of the largest and most innovative securities achieved in Canada. At the time he retired, he was Vice Chairman of RBC Dominion Securities, the largest investment firm in Canada.

Throughout, Mackay has solidified his reputation as one of Dalhousie’s greatest friends. He served for years on the School of Business Advisory Board, and played a key role in several of Dalhousie’s fundraising campaigns. His monetary gifts have funded a Chair in Finance, supported more than 100 students, and created a stellar speaker series that brings in the best and brightest financial minds in the country to help keep the School of Business up-to-date and relevant in a very fast-moving sector.

For all these contributions, Mackay was awarded an Honourary Doctorate of Laws from Dalhousie in 1993. “I was delighted to be recognized in this way,” he says. “But what they didn’t tell me when I accepted, was that I would be giving the convocation address to 1,100 people. I was in shock.”


Dale Ells, DDIP (Agriculture)’59

Dr. Dale EllsAs a boy, Dr. Dale Ells (DDIP (Agriculture)’59) would travel from his family’s farm in the Annapolis Valley to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. As he stepped up for 4-H judging in livestock and vegetables, and later in 4-H leadership camps, there was no doubt in his mind he’d be studying there one day in the future.

After graduating from the NSAC and McGill he got into agricultural marketing and began traveling the province. In 1966, Dr. Ells was named Dean of Vocational and Technical Education when NSAC announced a substantial expansion. The job fitted him to a tee.

“The Agricultural Campus is the third-oldest centre for agricultural education and research in Canada — and although small, we’ve had many types of agricultural education and research here,” says Dr. Ells, who was deeply involved with expanding facilities, boosting enrolment and launching new programs during his 28-year stretch as dean. “Our facilities have always been among the top in Canada. Just because we’re in Nova Scotia didn’t mean we were one step behind. We were often leading the charge.”

Dr. Ells was instrumental in organizing international programming, which includes development programs in several countries and now involves more than 100 students each year at the Agricultural Campus. He was named Dean Emeritus in 1998, and Alumni Volunteer of the Year in 2005.

Although he retired two decades ago, Dr. Ells remains actively involved with the Faculty of Agriculture. He volunteered with the Colchester Historical Society to launch a display depicting 100 years of campus accomplishments, and wrote a comprehensive illustrated history of NSAC. The 279-page book, Shaped through Service, has become an invaluable resource to staff, students, and alumni — but Dr. Ells modestly describes it as “an interesting retirement exercise.”

As secretary of the Class of ’59, Dr. Ells writes newsletters to his classmates twice a year and he has helped raise more than $40,000 in donations for the Class of ’59 Teaching Development Fund. He promotes the Faculty of Agriculture at every opportunity, and says he feels immensely proud when students and graduates win national or international awards.

“A high percentage of our graduates contribute to the Atlantic region,” says Dr. Ells. “The Faculty of Agriculture continues to be well-connected to the industry and the people it serves.”


Scott Shepherd, MBA’83

Archibald Award, Scott Shepherd, MBA83Scott Shepherd (MBA’83), president and CEO of Northstar Trade Finance Inc. has never been shy about rolling up his sleeves and jumping in. “There are many ways to contribute time, money and expertise,” says Shepherd. “Not everyone has the financial resources to write the big cheque but it’s still possible to support the university in a meaningful way, using the skills and abilities you have at your disposal.” Given the array of volunteer roles he has played at Dalhousie, Shepherd knows what he’s talking about. He served on the Board of Governors, assisted on two major fundraising campaigns, is an advisor for both the Faculty of Management and the School of Business, offers eight-month work terms to students in the Corporate Residency MBA Program, and has established six awards for students in the Faculty of Management. Shepherd’s own experience at Dalhousie – namely, realizing that he didn’t have enough money to finish his first-year studies – plays a key role in his ongoing commitment to the university. “I spoke to a clerk and she found a bursary that was established just for a situation like mine,” he recalls. “In three days, I had a cheque for the exact amount I needed. Without those extra funds, I wouldn’t have been able to continue.” Shepherd also received two fellowships, one with the Department of Foreign Affairs, which took him to the Philippines for a work term, and another with Transport Canada. “These experiences were amazing. They gave me tremendous insight about how to put what I was leaning into action. It had a big impact on my career. “Dal is an important part of my life,” he continues. “You can’t take something out without putting something else back in and by volunteering and donating, I have a profound sense that I am putting seed back in the ground. It’s very fulfilling.”


Senator James Cowan, QC, BA’62, LLB’65, LLD’09

2012 A. Gordon Archilbald Award recipientJim Cowan’s contributions to Dalhousie have touched every corner of the university. For 36 years he served on Dalhousie’s Board of Governors – eight of them as chair. During this time, he chaired and/or served on 10 committees including the campus plan steering committee, facilities renewal strategy committee, financial strategy committee and two presidential searches. Jim has shared his talents with a number of organizations in the health, education and business sectors. He has held leadership roles with the Abbie J. Lane Memorial Hospital and the Metropolitan Mental Health Planning Board and was part of the group that established the Landmark East School in Wolfville for students with learning disabilities. For his many contributions, Jim was a recipient of the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.


Nancy Tower, BComm’81

2011 A. Gordon Archibald Award recipientDuring her time at Dal, Nancy Tower was involved on the Dalhousie Student Union, the orientation committee and in varsity athletics. She graduated from Dalhousie in 1981 with a Bachelor of Commerce. Now with a powerful career, dedication to community service, and a fulfilling family life – Nancy is the picture of success. A Fellow Chartered Accountant, Nancy is Executive Vice President, Business Development for Emera. She serves on the Board of Directors of Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the Advisory Council of the Dalhousie University Corporate Residency MBA program. Nancy has dedicated her time and talent to Dalhousie over the years and she continues to create vital awareness in the business community about our excellent programs. Watch the 2011 Alumni Awards video on YouTube.


Dr. Carmen Moir, BSc’50, DEd’51, BEd’53, LLD’92

Carmen Moir has been consistently concerned with social improvement, particularly with the advancement of the disadvantaged. A teacher by trade, he followed through with an ambitious goal he set during his student days and held more than 10 jobs throughout his professional career in government and education. Dr. Moir is a long-time supporter of Dalhousie. He has chaired numerous university committees and served as president of the Alumni Association from 1962 to 1964. In 1990, Dr. Moir was awarded the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence; and, in 1992, he received an honorary degree from Dalhousie for his many contributions to education, public life and the advancement of the public service.


Dr. David Precious, DDS’69, MSc’72

2009 A. Gordon Archibald Award recipientThere is very little in the field of dentistry that Dr. David Precious has not accomplished in the course of his impressive 40-year career. From his days as a Dalhousie student, to his work as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, David has been an inspiration to students and colleagues alike. Recognized as one of the world’s foremost authors in his field, he also serves in a leadership role at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry, the IWK Health Centre and Capital Health. As a founding member of the International Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation, David has been instrumental in advancing care for some of the world’s youngest and most vulnerable patients. While he travels the globe to perform life-altering cleft surgeries, David also teaches and trains local surgeons in the proper techniques so that they can build capacity and help families in their own communities. His leadership and dedication to this cause was rewarded in 2007 when he was named a Member of the Order of Canada.


Dr. Denis Stairs, OC, BA’61

2008 A. Gordon Archilbald Award recipient For Denis Stairs, attending Dalhousie was a family tradition. As a student, he was editor-in-chief of the Dalhousie Gazette, class valedictorian and won numerous awards, including a Rhodes scholarship. He graduated with an arts degree in 1961 and went on to complete his Master’s at Oxford and PhD at the University of Toronto. In 1969, Denis returned to Dalhousie as a faculty member. Since that time, he has held a variety of administrative roles at the University. He served as Dalhousie’s Vice-President Academic and Research, Chair of the University’s Political Science department and was founding director of Dalhousie’s Centre for Foreign Policy Studies. Today, Denis is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Dalhousie and one of Canada’s most respected authorities in political science and international affairs. Over the years, his ties to Dal have remained strong, extending far beyond his employment. Denis is a passionate advocate, dedicated volunteer and leadership donor who has been involved with numerous Dalhousie fundraising campaigns, including the Glyn R. Berry Memorial Scholarship in International Policy Studies.


Dr. Margaret Casey, CM, MD’68, LLD’04

2007 A. Gordon Archilbald Award Described as “a caring and compassionate physician,” Margaret Casey has always demonstrated an outstanding commitment to patient-centered healthcare. Driven by the belief that healthcare is everyone’s right, Margaret put her ideals into action for 25 years by providing medical services to under-served members of the community at the Halifax North End Health Centre. Her compassion also extended to developing countries, including St. Lucia and Haiti, where she volunteered at medical clinics. Margaret has served on the boards of many community and educational organizations and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, which she and her husband, retired surgeon Dr. Tom Casey, together received in 2002 for their more than 35 years of dedicated service to the community. Since receiving her medical degree from Dalhousie in 1968, Margaret has remained connected to the university and the Faculty of Medicine serving as the School’s Director of Admissions from 1995 to 2001. Today, she is a generous donor and dedicated volunteer, currently serving as President of the Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association.


Dr. John Christie, DDS’71

2006 A. Gordon Archibald Award recipient John has been delivering inspired dental education to scores of students since the 1970’s and has provided leadership to Dalhousie through the Faculty of Dentistry Alumni Relations Committee, the Admissions Committee, the Part-Time Faculty Advisory Committee, the Advisory committee on the appointment of a Chair for the Department of Paediatric and Community Dentistry, and the Dean’s Search Committee. In 1983, John was instrumental in establishing an alumni recognition process to honor outstanding alumni of the Faculty. He is a generous donor to the University and encourages others to match his level of giving. About John, Dean David Precious says, “Dr. Christie has demonstrated diligence, patience and excellence as an educator. Additionally he has been an extremely vocal proponent of alumni supporting their alma mater.” Outside of Dal, John has a thriving practice in Bedford, NS, and contributes to the community through the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum, the Cerebral Palsy Association, the Canadian Diabetic Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters Nova Scotia.

Earlier Winners


  • Bob Parkin, BScPharm’51, MD’56
  • Sheri Price, BScN’92, MN’01
  • Joel Jacobson, BComm’63


  • Ron Gilkie, BSc/DipEng’60, BEng’62, MEng’64
  • Peter Doig, BA’51, BComm’53
  • Women’s Division of the Dalhousie Alumni Association, est. 1909


  • Diane Bell, BSc’84
  • Robert Anderson, MD’54, PGM’59
  • Judi Rice, BPE’75


  • Hon. J. James Kinley, BSc’46, DipEng’46, BEng’48, DEng’95
  • Joan Gilroy, BA’56, MSW’58
  • Edwin Harris, BComm’54, LLB’58


  • Donna Curry, BSc’62, MD’67
  • Doug Reid, BComm’82


  • Elaine Gordon, DDS’69
  • Frank Lovely, DDS’59
  • Rod MacLennan, BSc’60, LLD98


  • Wes Campbell, DipEng’61, BEng’62, LLB’66
  • Bernadette Macdonald, LLB’78
  • Fred Fountain, LLB’74


  • Peggy Weld
  • Doug Eisner
  • Stewart McInnes


  • Rand Matheson
  • Zilpha Linkletter
  • Struan Robertson


  • George Cooper


  • George Piercey


  • Reuben Cohen


  • Mona Campbell


  • John Lindsay


  • Margaret Godsoe


  • George Thompson


  • A. Gordon Archibald