Blaine Thacker Memorial Award established to support graduate students conducting agricultural research

The life and legacy of Dr. Blaine Thacker (LLD ’06) and his spirit of giving to community are at the heart of a new endowed scholarship at the University of Lethbridge that will support graduate students conducting agricultural research.

Blaine Thacker, pictured here receiving his honorary degree in 2006, was a lifelong learner and ULethbridge advocate.

The Blaine Thacker Memorial Award will assist students who are conducting research related to agriculture in either a Master of Arts or Master of Science program. Thacker, a former lawyer, Member of Parliament and one-time ULethbridge Board of Governors Chair (1974-78), had strong ties to the agricultural sector throughout his life.

“Blaine’s life and legacy are marked by his kindness, generosity and a willingness to help others,” says Kathy Greenwood, ULethbridge vice-president (external relations). “He believed wholeheartedly in the value of education and the doors it opens and was always a staunch backer of the University of Lethbridge. That his family would create this award in his memory is testament to that commitment and a wonderful gift to future generations of students.”

Thacker was born in Taber and raised on a farm near Burdett. Historically, his family were miners, but given the danger of the occupation, they decided to move to rural Alberta and run a farm. His ties to the farming community continued into his education, as Thacker attended Olds Agricultural College. He then made his way to the University of Alberta, where he obtained his BSc in Agriculture.

Thacker then turned his sights to law school and began his career as a lawyer with Virtue and Co., later becoming a partner in the firm. He was an admirer of Peter Lougheed, who sparked his interest in politics when he was at the University of Alberta. In 1979, Thacker ran for Member of Parliament with the Progressive Conservative Party and was elected, serving in that capacity until 1993. After four terms in office, he returned to the law profession and was appointed Queen's Counsel. In 2006, the University presented Thacker with an honorary Doctor of Laws.

“His love of learning was a constant throughout his career, and even in retirement he continued to work and further education,” adds Greenwood. “He connected with World University Services to teach in Vietnam, where he spent several semesters teaching English to law professors and students as well as Comparative Law at Can Tho University.

The Blaine Thacker Memorial Award was created to represent Blaine’s values, his ties to community and agriculture and his lifelong love of learning. The award has a fundraising goal of $25,000, which will create an endowed scholarship for students. The value of the award will be $1,000 and will be established in perpetuity in Thacker's name once the fundraising goal is met. All donations are greatly appreciated.

For more on the award, see this feature story, or donate now.