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St. Albert businessman earns university distinction

By: Susan Jones

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 06:00 am

HIGHER LEARNING – Jim Hole learned this week that he will be honoured with the UAlberta Advocate Award.
HIGHER LEARNING – Jim Hole learned this week that he will be honoured with the UAlberta Advocate Award.

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Family connections have always been important to Jim Hole, but this week, as it was announced that he will be honoured with the UAlberta Advocate Award, he couldn’t help but pay tribute to his parents, Lois and Ted Hole, but also to his paternal grandmother.

“My grandmother on my dad’s side was from England. I believe she was a seamstress and never had the opportunity to go to university. But somehow she instilled in all of her children and grandchildren that education was critical,” Jim Hole said.

Every one of Grandma Hole’s nine children graduated from the University of Alberta, and when they did, their photos were proudly displayed in her home. Jim Hole still remembers puzzling over the graduation gowns depicted in the photos.

“My earliest memories are of going to my grandparents’ house in Edmonton and seeing the photos of all her nine children in their funny gowns. Their graduation photos were on the wall from the oldest to the youngest,” he recalled.

Jim Hole followed in his father Ted’s footsteps and earned his own degree in agriculture in 1979. He also followed his father’s example of volunteering as a University alumni member.

This is the second year the UAlberta Advocate Award will be presented. It recognizes a person (or team) who contributes personally to the university experience or makes life better for faculty, staff or students. Nominees typically are people who give of their time, expertise and passion to advance the University of Alberta and higher education. Through their work with the university, they enhance the reputation and raise the profile of the university and strengthen its connection to the community.

In 2001 Hole began working closely with the university, when he was recruited to the alumni council as representative from the agriculture faculty. He served for three years as alumni council president, including during the university’s centenary year in 2008. He was named honorary centenary co-chair with president Samarasekera and served on both the university senate and the Board of Governors. Presently he serves on the Campus Open Spaces Master Plan committee.

“Jim Hole is a passionate and relentless advocate for the University of Alberta, following in the footsteps of his family. He has partnered with the university as a builder, participant and supporter, giving generously of his time, talents and resources,” said university communications associate, Beverly Betkowski.

All this volunteer work at the university was a responsibility that Hole took to heart, in addition to his work as a co-owner of Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens.

“The University of Alberta did so much to broaden my own knowledge, not just in the sciences but in knowledge of the world. I believe it’s so important for people to go back to the campus to reconnect. When you go back and reconnect at homecomings, or as a volunteer, you get to see and talk to all those sharp students again. It becomes a new education and you are in that university buzz again,” he said.

He is proud of the ongoing accomplishments at the university and believes alumni should continue to support their alma mater. In that way, he said, the entire community is strengthened.

“The University of Alberta’s impact is on Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the world. What is learned there impacts all our lives every day whether it’s medical research, research on the environment, or nutrition or obesity research or ways to find water for Africa. If you support the University of Alberta, it helps you,” Hole said.

The UAlberta Advocate Award, will be presented May 13 at a noon hour ceremony at Edmonton city hall, and the public is invited.


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