Beny award creates opportunity

The late photographer, painter and designer Dr. Roloff Beny (LLD '72) recognized that the choices he made in the present could have impact upon the future. By establishing the Roloff Beny Foundation Photographic Award in Fine Arts, Beny created a lasting legacy that is still benefiting U of L students today – more than two decades after his passing.

To recognize individuals like Beny who have made or will make planned gifts, the University established the Fiat Lux Legacy Society, and on May 20, 2009, society members were invited to an appreciation tea. As part of the program, Corinne Thiessen Hepher, the 2008 recipient of the Roloff Beny award, shared her personal experience about the impact of donor-funded awards.

Thiessen Hepher, who grew up in a family of seven, always felt her parents supported her interest in the arts, but at the same time, post-secondary education was an unaffordable luxury – leaving the full cost of a university education on Thiessen Hepher's shoulders.

As Thiessen Hepher recalls, she was reluctant to apply for the Roloff Beny award, feeling that she either wouldn't qualify or that her work was insufficient. However, one her professors persuaded her to put her name forward.

"That encouragement was the beginning of a significant impact on my education," Thiessen Hepher says.

Receiving the prestigious, $5,000 award enabled Thiessen Hepher to purchase much-needed photography equipment, including a digital camera, lens and tripod, and it afforded her the opportunity to travel to Vancouver and Montreal to stage two performance pieces: Woman with Monkey on Back, Vancouver and Rue St Remi, Montreal. The money also supplemented her tuition expenses the following semester.

While the award undeniably helped remove financial barriers, it was equally significant in confirming Thiessen Hepher's work as an artist, and in giving her the confidence to continue. After an eight-year educational journey, Thiessen Hepher proudly donned a cap and gown and convocated this spring.

"I have nothing but sincere gratitude for donors such as Roloff Beny who generously leave legacy gifts so students can pursue art in education, bettering their artistic practice as a result," Thiessen Hepher says. "Contributions and efforts that assist students financially are absolutely life changing and in many instances, imperative to completing a degree."

For more information about how you can leave your legacy for future students, call Kathy MacFarlane at 403-317-2838 or visit