Board of Governors Award of Distinction
The Board of Governors Award of Distinction is the College's highest tribute to individuals or groups within our community. This pestigious award was established in 2004, to honour those individuals with exceptional commitment to supporting higher education for the people of our region.
2016 Board of Governors Award of Distinction Recipient: Michael O'Connor
Michael O'Connor served as a member of the GPRC Board of Governors starting in 2002 and became board chair in 2008. O'Connor moved to Grande Prairie in 1973 initially working at Proctor and Gamble. In 1978 he pursued a career in the construction industry. In 1985 he established Mike O'Connor Construction and in 1993 joined with Cliff Turner to launch what’s now known as TurCon Construction Group.
All the while O'Connor has been active in the community as a volunteer with numerous community groups including Grande Prairie Live Theatre, Camp Tamarack, Alberta Wine Education Society, Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce, Alberta Chambers of Commerce, Swan City Rotary Club, Crystal Centre Advisory Committee and the Christ Church Anglican vestry.
Download Nomination Form
Through this award, the Board of Governors will honour individuals whose actions have made exceptional contributions to our community and to the advancement of higher education.
In particular, the nominee must be known to:
- Promote goodwill between the College and the community.
- Further the aims of the College in creating partnerships - social, cultural or economic.
- Provide services above self and one's employment, which involves contribution of personal time and effort to benefit others.
- Demonstrate a willingness to assist the College in advancing education for our region.
This competition is open to groups and/or individuals in Alberta including non-alumni members of the public, alumni of GPRC, and members of the College academic and support staff. Posthumous nominations may be considered. The Board of Governors will select the recipient at an in-camera meeting. Further nomination and eligibility information may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Board of Governors.
Where do I deliver my nomination?
Please send your nominations by mail to the Office of the Board of Governors, 10726-106 St, Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4, or via email to the GPRC Board of Governors.
Award of Distinction Honourees
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2015: Chris Andersen
Chris Andersen is a long time resident of Grande Prairie and is the former General Manager for CANFOR. He is actively involved in the Swan City Rotary Club and is a philanthropist and supporter of numerous Community projects. Chris has been a special guest at GPRC Business classes, for discussions on the topics of citizenship and philanthropy. Chris is the founder of an international Foundation that provides support to the people of Ethiopia.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2014: Fred & Ruth Estlin
Fred and Ruth Estlin are well-known for their support of a wide variety of community activities throughout the Peace Region, and for their passion for advanced education and cultural opportunities. Since 1975, the Estlins have had a close relationship with the College. Fred has taught a variety of courses over the years, while Ruth has been enrolled in a Fine Arts course almost every semester since 1979! Today Fred continues his College involvement as a volunteer for the Centre for Research & Innovation, working with local inventors to help further their projects. Ruth has continually expressed her appreciation through volunteering her efforts to help organize events such as the President’s Ball. In January of 1996, Fred assumed the mantle of Chair, Board of Governors for Grande Prairie Regional College, serving in that capacity for six years. During his tenure he and Ruth came to fully understand the need to support the College, and have made many gifts to the College over the years. As Diamond Legacy donors in the Planned Giving program of Grande Prairie Regional College, they have decided to make a lasting contribution to the College which has been a big part of their lives over the years.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2013: Fletcher Bootle
Fletcher Bootle has long been known for his service to our community and to our College. He has served two terms as Chair, GPRC Board of Governors, has served on the GPRC Alumni Foundation Board, and supports the Bootle Family Bursary Fund at GPRC. He is an active Rotarian, who has held many posts and is a multiple recipient of Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest honour. He continues a long involvement with the Grande Prairie United Way Campaign, which he Co-Chaired with wife Diane in 1999, then serving as Board Chair for some five years. Fletcher's community involvement demonstrates an ongoing commitment to youth. He is a Board Advisor to the Grande Prairie Youth Emergency Shelter Society, is serving a second 3-year term on the Board of Directors for Careers The Next Generation, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honours including the Alberta Centennial Medal 2005.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2012: Elizabeth (Beth) Sheehan
Beth Sheehan established the first Regional Home and School Association in the South Peace, and was regional director for several years. She also edited the Alberta Home & School News from 1964-1965. Her lifetime involvement in the communities of the South Peace has been extensive, and her research, writing and photographic skills are a consistent thread throughout. Beth Sheehan is well-known as the author and/or contributor to several of the regional history books published in the area. Her collection of historical information and photographs has become an important component of the South Peace Regional Archives. Elizabeth Sheehan continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of educational and cultural events in the area, and is a particular friend to GPRC as generous donor and alumna. She was among the first students of the College when it was established, as an adult student in the general arts.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2011: Vi Sunohara
Vi Sunohara is widely known as a “Trailblazer” and was listed among Alberta’s 50 most influential people in 2005. A chemist who worked at El Dorado Nuclear, she could not get a mortgage in 1961 because she was a woman. Vi decided to do something about it and became one of the first female construction contractors. She has served on the boards of Grande Prairie Regional College (2003 - 2009), Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce and as a regional director of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta. Vi was also active in Grande Prairie’s Rotary Club, the annual girl’s hockey school, Peace Region Employ-Ability Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Community Association for the Homeless and the Canadian Orthopedic Association. She is well known for her contributions to improve the financial status of women, encouraging young women entering the workforce and working to help them achieve their aspirations.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2010: Kay & Mae Trellé
Kay and Mae Trellé, have devoted their lives to higher learning. Kay Trellé achieved the equivalent of a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and continued to add to his knowledge throughout a career which included work on the Poseidon Missile, the Cruise Missile, and the Moon Buggy which was used on the first moon landing. Kay concluded his career as a Professional Engineer in the Triumf particle physics laboratory which served three universities: University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and University of Alberta. Mae Trellé, throughout her career as a nurse, regularly added post-graduate study to her nursing certification, including a study of midwifery in Scotland, and a later specialization in OR Management.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2009: William (Bill) & Margaret Bowes
The names Margaret and Bill Bowes are synonymous with Community in Grande Prairie. This couple has been integral to the development and support of our community – from school to college, from cleaners to newspapers to real estate, in music festivals, church and Rotary – their mark is everywhere. In 1995 the Bowes Family Crystal Gardens was opened in conjunction with the Canada Games Arena, an enduring part of the Bowes legacy to our community. They have several generations of neighbours and friends and students and employees and fellow community members who have benefited for over 50 years from the energy and dedication of this remarkable couple. The Bowes’ have a long record of generous donations to the College, and served as Honorary Chairs of the President’s Ball 2004. Margaret is a tireless volunteer in the College every spring during the Music Festival.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2007-2008: Paul J. Evaskevich
Paul J. Evaskevich has earned numerous awards and recognitions for his contribtuions to his community. At Grande Prairie Reigonal College, he served on the Board of Governors and is a founder and Past Chair of the GPRC Foundation. The Paul Evaskevich Valedictorian Award was established at GPRC in 1985, and continues to annually honour a student who has demonstrated academic merit, and who has made a contribution to college life. Grande Prairie Regional College has been greatly honoured and supported by the generosity of Paul and Coreen Evaskevich. In 2005, the couple served as honourary chairs of the GPRC President’s Ball.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2006: Lyle D. Carlstrom
Lyle D. Carlstrom is a Grande Prairie lawyer and an alumnus of GPRC who is closely involved with advanced education and countless other community activities to strengthen the social fabric of our region. Lyle Carlstrom is vocal about the importance of post-secondary education in general, and about the benefits of a College in the Peace Country in particular. He served several years as Chair of the GPRC Alumni Foundation Board of Directors, and has contributed generously of his time and resources in support of Grande Prairie Regional College.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2005: Charles Leslie (Les) Longmate
Les Longmate is a successful business entrepreneur who has served on numerous committees and community organizations to improve life for the citizens of our region. Mr. Longmate was an Alderman of the City of Grande Prairie, sat on the GPRC Foundation Board of Directors and the Grande Prairie Public Library Board, the Police Commission. He is a staunch Rotarian, and has supported countless fundraising and community events. His profound sense of community is widely recognized, and honoured by this award.
Board of Governors Award of Distinction 2004: Clem and Muriel Collins
Clem and Muriel Collins were the inaugural recipients of the Award of Distinction in February 2004. The Collins’ have always been tremendous supporters of Grande Prairie Regional College. Muriel Collins served as Chair of the College Board of Governors and Clem Collins has served as Chair of the Grande Prairie Regional College Foundation. They did this because of a deep commitment to our community, and a passionate belief in the benefits of post-secondary education, particularly for the people residing in the northern part of this province.