The vision of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame is that it exists ‘to develop young men and women to become purposeful leaders with virtuous character’; and it is exactly that focus which is at the core of what drives ND Board of Regents member Eleah Gallagher to so passionately and consistently give back to the school.
“I felt like it was a good school, that brought leadership development into every aspect of what it does, either in sports or in the classroom,” she says.
“They are all about teaching students, again and again, about character, giving them the opportunity to grow and develop in this safe and caring world out there, but at the same time challenging the student to take out of it what he or she puts in. I just really enjoyed my time there.”
Gallagher, 32, grew up on a farm near Wilcox, so it was a natural step for her to attend the school for four years, graduating in 2004. The daughter of a man with an engineering background, she then went on to take civil engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, with a focus on structural engineering and is now a partner JC Kenyon Engineering in Regina.
Mo Bundon’73, the chair of the Notre Dame Board of Regents and Vice-Chair of Harvard Developments Inc, knew of the talent and character of Gallagher and invited her to join the board in 2012.
According to her, it was not a hard sell.
“The school played a hugely important role in my life and my development,” says Gallagher, who is also a key member of Notre Dame’s facilities committee, “and so as an alumnus I think it is important to give back.
“I went down there a lot of times even before I joined the board, such as for graduation, and it is really neat to see how the students say how much the school impacted them, and how they thank their parents for sending them there. Giving back to it financially is also so important to me because I think it gives so much to students. The college puts out a lot in terms of providing bursary support to students to ensure anybody can come to Notre Dame, so it’s important to give so that anyone can have that experience.”
Gallagher notes that her favourite experience as a board member so far was on March 8, 2018 – International Women’s Day – when she was invited to be the keynote speaker at an event for the girls on campus. She fondly remembers speaking about her background, her passion for engineering, her faith, and her experience of being able to manage a life as a professional, and as a wife and mother.
As the school enters its 100-year anniversary celebrations, Gallagher finds it easy to pinpoint what matters most to her about the school.
“It is all about the people there,” she says.
“The staff, the faculty, their spirit of teamwork is just incredible. I think 100 years is a great accomplishment, in that it is 100 years of being a well-rounded place, focussing on the development of the mind, body, spirit, and it is really about shaping young men and women, to train them into well-rounded, contributing members of society.”