bcomm class 1997

By Emma Sutro

Dalhousie’s BComm Class of 1997 celebrated its 25-year reunion by making the largest ever class gift to the Faculty of Management, and establishing a scholarship that will empower future business leaders.

“The Bachelor of Commerce Class of 1997 is generous, engaged, and a lot of fun,” says Brian Collins (BComm’97). With a record-breaking class donation and a successful 25-year reunion wrapped up, it is an apt description of his classmates.

For Collins, the idea to fundraise for a large class project and hold a reunion was hatched in 2020, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many, he experienced isolation that came with restrictions to social gatherings and decided to reach out to his classmates to gauge their interest in starting a class project. Their interest, it turned out, was very high. The classmates he connected with were keen to do something that would have a tangible impact on students in the Bachelor of Commerce program, which had been so meaningful to them and launched their own careers.

Within the first 48 hours, the Class of 1997 had already committed over $80,000 to the project. To date, they have collectively raised more than $170,000 for the BComm Class of 1997 Scholarship, making it the largest class gift in the Faculty of Management’s more than 100-year history.

Collins credits this project’s success to the lasting connections his classmates formed at Dalhousie, and to the hard work of the other fundraising committee members, Bevin Arnason, Jeff Doucette, Brock Johnston and Kate Walsh.

“When we set out to fundraise and plan the reunion, we were pleased to discover that we had current contact information for approximately 80% our classmates,” he says. “Once the fundraising committee compared notes, we realized that each person was plugged into different groups, and collectively we had maintained strong connections with our classmates over the years.”

The BComm Class of 1997 Scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time in 2023, will be endowed in perpetuity.  When fully funded to its goal of $300,000, it will cover 100% of tuition each year for an upper-year Bachelor of Commerce student from an underrepresented group who has demonstrated strong academic and leadership qualities.

“The Class of 1997 believes in Dalhousie students and their potential,” says Kim Brooks, Dean of the Faculty of Management. “Imagine being the recipient of this scholarship — to know that you have a network of alumni who are rooting for you even before you graduate!”

Gathering to celebrate

During the 2022 Canada Day long weekend, more than 30 members of the Class of 1997 attended their reunion in Halifax and celebrated their fundraising success. The last time many of them had been together was in 2007 for their 10-year reunion.

On the first afternoon of the reunion, they attended a reception at the Rowe School of Business building on Dalhousie’s campus to honour their exceptional class project. The rest of the reunion offered plenty of opportunities to reconnect with classmates, Dalhousie, and Halifax — with family-friendly daytime activities, dinners, and after-dinner socials each night culminating in visits to Pizza Corner. Collins notes there is a strong appetite among the class to hold more frequent reunions, and they are already looking forward to their 30-year reunion in 2027.

For Bachelor of Commerce students, Collins offers a piece of advice that has served him well over his 25-year career: keep in touch with your classmates.

“You never know where people are going to end up, and how you can work together in the future, whether it’s in your career or for philanthropic projects like the BComm Class of 1997 Scholarship,” he says. “It’s important to maintain those connections, and keep your networks as strong and as vital as they can possibly be.”

It’s a practice that has served the Class of 1997 well, and will benefit Dalhousie commerce students for years to come.

Video Feature: Members of the BComm Class of 1997 share what inspired them to give back