A dedicated board member and volunteer who has devoted countless hours of service to Brandon University will receive the prestigious Apex Award from the Brandon University Foundation.
Jeff Cristall, who says his earliest memories of BU were lending a hand as a kid from the sidelines for the then-College Caps football squad in the 1960s, most recently served three consecutive terms on the BU Foundation board, including as President of the BU Foundation from 2015–17.
The BU Foundation is responsible for fundraising on behalf of Brandon University, and of stewarding the resulting endowments and donated funds. Disbursements through the BU Foundation power research, facility and equipment upgrades, library resources, and last year, more than $1.8 million in scholarships and bursaries.
“We know the impact that charitable giving has, and we know how meaningful that donor support is, both to the donors and also especially to our students,” said Dwight Conroy, the current President of the BU Foundation. “During Jeff’s time on the board, his commitment helped us nearly double the Foundation’s total assets, which will continue to pay direct dividends to students forever.”
The Apex Award is the BU Foundation’s top honour, and is given only when a deserving candidate is found. It recognizes outstanding leadership and service to the BU Foundation.
Cristall’s time at the BU Foundation is only the latest in a long series of roles he has served at BU.
“My first position was assistant to the waterboy at College Caps football games in the 1960s. Coach Doug Steeves lived down the street and I tagged along with him to some games,” Cristall recalls. “Next I remember was playing the national anthem in the school band at the sod turning for the then-new Brodie science building.”
Sitting outside his mother Ellie’s office, as she finished work in the Original Building, made for an easy transition after high school when he enrolled at BU.
“That was when the fun really began. I was on student council, residence council, and science council — and once in a while made it to class.,” he said. “While at BU I worked as the student trainer for the hockey team for a while, and also in the computer room feeding punch cards through the then-modern computer we had.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 1978, Cristall went on to become an accountant, but he didn’t leave BU behind. Instead, he joined the BU Board of Governors as a representative of the BU Alumni Association, from about 1989 to 1995, where he had a front-row seat to one of the more momentous renovations in Brandon’s history.
“The most memorable thing was working with then-President Dennis Anderson as he talked the politicians into giving us enough cash to keep the exterior of Clark Hall and the Original Building intact. I can’t think of what would have happened if that did not work,” Cristall said.
After serving on numerous planning committees and working groups, Cristall then joined the Brandon University Foundation, where he says he was very fortunate to serve on the presidential selection committee who chose the current President.
“One of the most important aims of Brandon University is to inspire in all our graduates a genuine devotion to and engagement with one’s community, and I can think of no better example of this than the one displayed by Jeff Cristall,” said that current President, David Docherty. “I remember he was the very first person to respond to our call to help replenish the student emergency fund when the pandemic first hit.
“His passion is incredible — we count ourselves lucky that he has chosen to give so much of his time and efforts back to the service of Brandon University.”
Cristall’s Apex Award, which was approved by the BU Foundation at its AGM earlier this year, was presented to him privately, with the hopes that a larger celebration can be held in the future, when Covid considerations fade.
“Through all my time at BU I was so pleased to work with and meet people from all aspects and areas of BU,” Cristall said. “The faculty and staff and students of BU make it such a very special place. The people who I met from all areas of the University show us how we can see things from a different viewpoint and still agree on a great result.”
- Brandon University
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