UPEI celebrates four distinguished and inspiring alumni

Evening fêted Heather Morrison, Stephen Smith, Joel Ward, and Todd MacLean
Friday, August 5, 2016
Heather Morrison, Joel Ward, Todd Maclean, Stephen Smith

As part of UPEI’s Reunion Weekend 2016, the University of Prince Edward Island celebrated four of its own with Distinguished and Young Inspiring Alumni awards. Heather Morrison (BSc ’91) and Stephen Smith (BBA ’82) were recognized with Distinguished Alumni awards. Joel Ward (BA ’06) and Todd MacLean (BA ’01) were named Distinguished Young Alumni.

As part of the evening, Ward was further celebrated by retiring his jersey to the rafters of the MacLauchlan Arena.

“I never thought something like this could ever occur,” said Ward as he received his award. “I’m really appreciative of where I came from. I’m a very proud alumni of the UPEI Panthers… I think one of the biggest accomplishments I have in hockey was getting my degree.”


Heather Morrison BSc ‘91

Dr. Heather G. Morrison was appointed Chief Public Health Officer in July 2007. A graduate of UPEI, Dr. Morrison was also Prince Edward Island’s first female Rhodes Scholar and the first UPEI alumni to receive this special honour. At Oxford University, she completed a Master’s and a Doctoral degree, majoring in Comparative Social Research and Social Policy, with a doctoral dissertation in health policy decision making.

Dr. Morrison returned to Canada for her medical training, graduating as a medical doctor from Dalhousie University, followed by specialist training in Public Health at the University of Toronto. Dr. Morrison chairs the Canadian Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health and has served in a variety of provincial roles. She was Acting Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness for PEI from April to mid-July 2016. Dr. Morrison has practiced medicine in Ontario, Saipan, and PEI, where she resides with her husband and four young children.

Stephen Smith BBA ‘82

Smith has held a number of leadership and executive management positions in the energy and construction services industries. He joined Flint Canada Inc. in 1982 and held various positions including VP Finance, VP Operations, Senior VP and President of Flint Canada Inc. In 2003, Smith became President of Flint Eurasia Ltd. and in 2004 co-founded STRIKE Energy Services Inc. In 2006, STRIKE Energy Services Inc. and Flint Eurasia Ltd. were reorganized under STRIKE Group Inc. with Smith as President and CEO. STRIKE Group Inc. has since partnered with TriWest Capital Partners and is now referred to as Strike Group, of which, Stephen remains President and CEO.

Smith holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Prince Edward Island. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant and has the Institute of Corporate Directors designation (ICD.D) from Rotman and Haskayne Business School.

He served on the Board of Directors of Flint Canada Inc., Flint Eurasia Ltd., Palomino Resources, and currently Strike Group and related companies. Smith has held various industry board and association memberships including Petroleum Services Association of Canada, Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, Alberta Construction Association, Canadian Heavy Oil Association and Chairman of the Leduc #1 Discovery Centre Advisory Board. He has been a Governor of the Canadian Executive Oilmen’s Association for several years, including Director of the Oilmen’s Business Forum held in Banff, Alberta each year.  He has also served as a director or advisor to several non-profit and community organizations. Stephen is currently a member of TEC Canada (The Executive Committee) and Past President of the Calgary Petroleum Club.

Strike is a leading energy service and construction company based in Calgary, Alberta, focused on servicing clients in the energy construction industry throughout the Western Canada. Canadian and employee-owned, with up to 1,200 employees in 15 locations in Western Canada, Strike provides exceptional service to an impressive list of well-known energy clients. Strike has been one of “Canada’s Best Managed Companies” for 10 years and was also an Alberta “Contractor of the Year” recipient.

Todd MacLean BA’ 01

Todd E. MacLean is a freelance journalist, published writer, editor, recording artist and music teacher from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

As a journalist, Todd has been a weekly newspaper columnist for the past 10 years, has been an environmental columnist on CBC Radio, a weekly entertainment commentator on CBC TV, and was awarded 2015 Media Person of the Year at the annual Music PEI Awards.

Playing saxophone/piano/guitar in several folk/rock/blues/jazz acts, MacLean is a highly sought-after accompanist on the PEI music scene, teaches more than 40 students in private weekly music lessons, and was voted Music Educator of the Year in 2010 and Musician of the Year in 2011 at the Music PEI Awards.

Since 2010, MacLean has worked as creator/Editor-in Chief on the book Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet – an anthology of responses from leading global thinkers on humanity's future on Earth, and featuring words by Jane Goodall, David Suzuki, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, The Dalai Lama, and many more. The book was published in October, 2014, and a US/UK edition has newly been published in October, 2015.

Joel Ward BA ‘06

Joel Ward was born in North York, Ontario to Cecilia, who worked as a nurse, and the late Randal Ward, who worked as an auto-mechanic. Both of his parents are immigrants from Barbados. Ward graduated from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute, located in Scarborough, Ontario, in 1998.

Following a successful Junior career with Owen Sound Attack, Ward played one season in the West Coast Hockey League before being recruited to play CIS hockey with the University of Prince Edward Island where he was a stand-out for the Panthers, earning Rookie of the Year and being named MVP three times.

After graduating in 2006 with a Sociology Degree, Ward was invited to the Minnesota Wild’s training camp where he ended up signing his first professional hockey contract that would see him play that season in the AHL with Wild affiliate Houston Aeros.

Ward’s breakout season came in 2008 when he signed with the Nashville Predators and scored in his first game with the club. He has been a mainstay in the NHL since, playing for the Washington Capitals from 2011–2015 and currently on a three-year contract with the San Jose Sharks, where he helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup finals this past season.

When Ward was 14, his father suffered a stroke while watching him play and died soon after. Coming from a working-class family and not always having the means to have the proper gear and equipment to play elite hockey, Ward could have easily let hockey and his dreams of playing in the NHL slip away. However, with the unwavering support of his family, and the help of his teammates and their parents, Ward stayed the course and pushed himself as a way to honour his father’s memory.

In 2009, Ward continued to show his tremendous leadership when he signed up with Big Brothers and became a brother to a 12-year-old named Malik Johnson—a troubled boy who grew up in a neighbourhood where drugs and shootings were common. He was expelled from school multiple times. He needed help. With Ward’s support, Johnson became the first member of his family to graduate from high school.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer
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