Management students pay it forward with Kazakoff Scholarship

The University of Lethbridge community has a proud tradition of providing financial support for students in the pursuit of their educational goals. And, once in a while, these students take an opportunity to pay it forward to others who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence.

One such opportunity was taken by Faculty of Management alumni Kelly Kennedy (BMgt '08), Lee Spracklin (BMgt '08) and Christine Odney (BMgt '08). The three former members of the JDC West business competition team were looking for a way to make use of surplus team funds and came up with the idea to support current students, all the while honouring the contribution of an outstanding professor.

Alumnus Kelly Kennedy is one of the former students behind the establishment of a new Faculty of Management scholarship program.

The Dan Kazakoff Award in Student Leadership was established shortly thereafter to recognize exceptional leadership as demonstrated through community and campus involvement.

Kazakoff is the director of Theory Into Practice Programs in the Faculty of Management. He is also known for his involvement with the Small Business Institute and, most notably, his work with students in the Integrated Management Experience class. He is both proud and humbled by the establishment of an award in his name.

“I was very surprised, honoured and touched to hear about the award,” says Kazakoff. “To me it was the greatest honour I could ever achieve. I have gained so much from the students I’ve interacted with and am constantly astonished at the creativity and work ethic so many have.  I have also come to realize that if you provide a high performance culture for students they can achieve so much.  Seeing how many students grow in their personal and professional development makes me very happy and proud of what we do in the Faculty of Management.”

With characteristic humour, Kazakoff adds, “I was also very happy the award did not have ‘memorial’ in the title.”

Kennedy says the project began simply, with he and his friends trying to find a way to honour a professor and mentor who had greatly impacted their U of L experience.

“The ball got rolling when I sent a message to my friends Lee, Christine and a few others asking if they would like to work on this concept as a team. Dan gave so much of his time and energy to his students that we thought we needed to give back to him and the Faculty of Management in some way.”

Odney and Spracklin got on board quickly to help make the idea a reality.

Dan Kazakoff is well known on campus for the extra work he does with students in the JDC West program.

“Dan has been inspiring students a long time and it did not take any convincing that this would be a fantastic way to say thanks and hopefully continue to pay the inspiration forward," says Odney. "JDC West is about striving for our best and contributing to community and that’s what we wanted the extra funds to accomplish.”

“The financial burden of getting an education is a struggle for many students,” adds Spracklin. “This award will hopefully encourage students to go beyond the minimum course requirements to make a difference for themselves, their school and their community.”

Kelly, Odney and Spracklin credit a number of people on campus with helping to push the award through the administrative approval process, including Chris Horbachewski (VP Advancement), Murray Lindsay (former Dean of Management), Kathy MacFarlane (Manager, Development Programs) and Anita Ryder (Management Financial Analyst).

“Support for the award on campus was incredibly strong,” says Kennedy.

Kazakoff says it is inspiring to see his former students recognize the value of the education they received while at the U of L, and to take that knowledge and apply it to help the next generation.

“My best ‘gift’ would be that no matter what they do in their lives, they will always be part of a community and maybe through their activities with me, they realize how their efforts can make a positive difference in whatever community they choose to be a part of," he says. "I hope deserving students will be honoured to receive this award and they will aspire to be change agents in whatever they do.”

The $1,500 award is disbursed annually to a full-time bachelor of management student with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and a demonstrated record of service.

Read about the first three Kazakoff Award Recipients here.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Dan Kazakoff Award for Student Leadership, or any other award, is asked to contact the office of University Advancement at 403-329-2582 | or visit