We think it is important to highlight interesting stories, milestones and achievements of our alumni. If you have a suggestion for the spotlight, please let us know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alumni Spotlight: Don Shilton (BSc '81)
For some people, retirement might mean slowing down. But not for Don Shilton (’81).
After a successful career in hospital administration that culminated in the role of president of St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener, Don’s ready to start the next leg of his journey. And it promises to be anything but a quiet ride.
Growing up, he remembers always wondering how things worked, an interest that brought him to Waterloo’s Science program. The huge campus was an eye-opener for the kid from a small Ontario town.
But one place, at least, was familiar. The community of St. Paul’s, where Don’s older brother was living, welcomed him in. And not long after arriving, Don met Carolyn, also a first-year student at St. Paul’s; they’ve now been together 41 years and recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary.
What does he remember most about residence life?
“Everyone’s doors were always open. You could drop in and chat with anyone, at any time. We got to know people so well.”
A solid foundation
After graduation, Don became a respiratory therapist and began working in a Hamilton hospital. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he became interested in the administrative side of medicine and completed an MBA at McMaster. He went on to progressively senior roles at St. Mary’s.
“I found that as I went up the career ladder, the combination of clinical and business expertise was very helpful in understanding the challenges hospitals were facing. Everything flowed form that solid foundation of science at Waterloo,” he says.
“I’m a competitive person (he played varsity volleyball at Waterloo) and I think that’s been reflected in my career. I encouraged the people who worked with me to make things better.”
At St. Mary’s, Don led campaigns that empowered staff to make improvements; as a result, St. Mary’s was named Canada’s safest and most efficient hospital in 2012.
“That’s the capstone of my work,” he says. “And I know St. Mary’s will continue to shine.”
With his passion for processes and continuous improvement, it’s not surprising that, in some ways, Don’s retirement looks similar to his career.
“Some people drift through retirement and let it happen to them. I want to be a bit more intentional,” he says.
He’s compiled a long checklist of things he’d like to accomplish – from golfing at St. Andrew’s in Scotland to visiting the Pyramids. Many of the items focus on acquiring new skills, like learning to play the piano or training for a marathon. That last one may come in handy for a particular “must-do” on his list.
“I want to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Although, you’d think I’d know better after working in a hospital,” he says, laughing.
“I can imagine standing in the street, waiting for the rockets that signal that the gates are open and the bulls are coming. The streets are cobblestoned and the old stone walls of the route are very high. They say the thundering of the bull’s hooves echoes everywhere and you feel like they’re right behind you all the way.”
He laughs again as he notes that several friends have suggested he make bull-running the very last item on his list… just in case.
As Don looks back on his career and forward to new adventures, he has a message for fellow St. Paul’s alumni.
Thank you for helping shape St. Paul’s culture. Carolyn and I benefited from that culture tremendously and, combined with what we learned at Waterloo, it contributed to our life together and our careers. We’re very proud of our time at St. Paul’s.
New Board Chair excited about St. Paul's future
“It’s not about me,” says Gary Foerster, newly appointed Chair of St. Paul’s Board of Governors. “It’s about St. Paul’s and its exciting future.”
Alumni Spotlight: Alison Gibbs (BMath '88)
Alison Gibbs (BMath '88) Associate Professor, Teaching Stream and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in Statistics at University of Toronto, was recently awarded a prestigious teaching award.
Alison was one of 10 professors from universities across Canada to be named a 2018 3M National Teaching Fellow by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is considered a very prestigious recognition of excellence in educational leadership and teaching. The award was founded in 1986 through a partnership between the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada, up to 10 Canadian academics annually are named fellows.
Alison is highly regarded by her students for being passionate about the study, and real-world applicability of statistics and is known by her colleagues for taking an innovative pedagogical and cross-disciplinary approach to her work.
Alison lived at St. Paul's in Fall 1983 and Spring 1984.
Remembering Andrea Fraser
Andrea Fraser lived at St. Paul's for several semesters in the early 1980's and died tragically shortly after graduating with a degree in kinesiology in October 1986.
Andrea's brother Graeme asked us to re-post this article originally published in the Applied Health Sciences News to You 50th Anniversary issue.
Graeme asks that St. Paul's alumni who remember Andrea visit the Remembering Andrea Fraser Facebook page to share photos or memories.
Donor Spotlight: Andrew Grimson (BASc '84)
You might say that Andrew Grimson cheers for the underdog.
As an administrator at two prestigious American business schools, he met bright, motivated students from all kinds of backgrounds. But there was one group that he admired most.
“The students that come from the middle of nowhere, the ones who do online or correspondence courses because they don't have those courses at their school, somewhere up in northern B.C. or Alberta or Ontario. The ones who start with a lot of strikes against them and who overcome them. That's who I want to enable,” he says.
And through a generous planned gift, shared between the University of Waterloo and St. Paul’s, Andrew and his wife Anne intend to do just that.
“Small, warm, inviting”
Like some of the students he hopes to help, Andrew grew up in a small town. He arrived in Waterloo from Saskatchewan in 1977 “with three suitcases, fresh off the prairies.”
He’d been attracted by the University of Waterloo’s engineering program and the chance to pay for his education through co-op. And knowing he was about to start an intense academic program, Andrew looked for a quiet, supportive environment to live in. He found it at St. Paul’s
“It was small, very warm and inviting,” he says.
Andrew remembers community dinners with fellow students, faculty and board members. And the time the residence prankster had his VW Beetle mysteriously entombed in snow, complete with memorial cross. Most of all, he remembers the friendships, many that continue today.
“St. Paul's was what got me through university,” he says. “It provided the comfort, the network, the support, the family.”
“It’s about having an impact”
After graduation, Andrew’s successful career in the plastics industry eventually led to an MBA at Tuck School of Business, followed by administrative positions there and at Harvard Business School. In 2017, Andrew retired, a situation “that lasted about two hours.” Today, he’s Executive Director of Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity, located near his home in Hanover, New Hampshire.
“I’ve been involved in volunteer activities for many years and retirement allows me to focus much of my time and energy to giving back.”
Andrew chose to give to St. Paul’s and Waterloo because he knows that “the money goes into equipment and it goes into the students and goes into the programs. This is how education should be done. This is how donations should be spent.”
He hopes other alumni will consider planned giving.
“Think about what had meaning to you [at school] and what you might want to contribute to.”
One of Andrew’s goals for his gift to St. Paul’s is to help Indigenous students apply the lessons and traditions of their culture to the business world.
“It'd be great to see in 20 years that young person who grew up on a reservation in northern Alberta running a multibillion-dollar, Indigenous-owned industry that's benefiting Canadians and people all around the world. And teaching wisdom, not just making money. I'd like to help find that student and get them on the right track to do that. That's the impact. That's the goal.”
If you’d like to follow Andrew’s lead and leave your own legacy at St. Paul’s, we invite you to get in touch to discuss the available options.