Ron Mathison MBT Graduate Scholarship: a legacy to honour a colleague envisioned by an MBT alumna reaches new heights

An effective mentor can have a lasting positive impact.

Author

Andrea Chidley, Cumming School of Medicine

An effective mentor can have a lasting positive impact. For Sabiha Zaman, an alumna and an instructor of the Master of the Biomedical Technology (MBT) program, Dr. Ron Mathison, PhD was a great mentor, a collaborator and a colleague when she first joined the MBT program in 2010 as a staff member. She quickly realized that Mathison was not only an inspiration for her but also for the MBT students and alumni. He was a champion for the program and very involved in developing and improving the business courses and curriculum. The MBT program bridges the gap between science and the corporate world. Zaman saw that Mathison truly believed in the MBT program and enjoyed the creative entrepreneurial journey the students took when creating their hypothetical company for the businesses pitches at the end of program.  

“Ron was always passionate about using students’ feedback to improve the courses and the MBT program," says Zaman. "He always made an effort to attend MBT events to get to know the students and help foster a sense of community. He had a great positive outlook to life and valued student success."

With Mathison’s sudden passing, Zaman envisioned a scholarship in his name would be a great way to recognize Mathison’s contributions to the MBT program. Zaman, having served on the Medicine Alumni Advisory Council, got in touch with the Director, Dr. Elisabeth Woolner and Leigh Hurst from the Alumni Engagement Office. They helped her get in touch with some key individuals at the Cumming School of Medicine who helped jumpstart the process and brainstorm some ideas for fundraising. They also introduced her to Andrea Ostergard from Fund Development who walked her through the process of starting a scholarship. Based on the data analytics provided by fund development, Zaman’s initial fundraising goal was to raise $6000 and to create a 3-year scholarship.

Zaman reached out to Mathison’s wife Heather to let her know about the scholarship. She expressed that this would be a great way to acknowledge and celebrate Mathison's passion for science and students. She said, “Ron really wanted to help students understand the process of biotech company formation, having gone through that himself and learning on the fly. He encouraged students in the MBT program to look at a process or product and understand how to get it out into the market. He understood that it required energy and money to get that done.”

Zaman then reached out to all of Mathison’s colleagues, the MBT alumni and the students. She found many of those associated with the program were well aware of Mathison’s impact.

 “Ron was a long-standing and valued member of the department of physiology and pharmacology. He was clearly committed to providing students with the best possible education experience. Students found Mathison to be personable and approachable, and an outstanding mentor who was ready to listen to concerns. Ron was a strong advocate of the MBT program and contributed significantly to its success,” says Wally McNaughton, PhD, and professor and head, department of physiology and pharmacology.

To date, Zaman has surpassed her original goal and had already raised $40,140. Zaman’s original goal of a term-limited scholarship was now enough funds for an endowment.

 “The Ronald Mathison MBT scholarship will encourage and reward excellence in business plan development and communication among students in the MBT program. It will serve as a fitting legacy for Dr. Mathison’s many contributions to the academic and corporate worlds that he loved so well, and worked so hard to bring together,” says Dr. Randal Johnston, PhD and former director of MBT program.

“Dr. Mathison loved training and mentoring the MBT students through the commercialization process and looked forward to the business pitches at the end of the year. As a former colleague and an alumna of the MBT program, I see great value for the students interested in biotechnology and entrepreneurship to be supported by this scholarship.” says Zaman.

This scholarship is also special as it is the first program specific award for the MBT program, which has been in existence since 2000. Each year, Zaman presents the MBT roadmap to provide the new students with the historical context of the MBT program and acknowledge all individuals who are part of the MBT success story including Mathison and his dedication to this program. “We are all stories and I am so delighted that Dr. Ron Mathison’s story will continue with this endowment and the MBT students will continue to benefit from his contributions.” says Zaman. 

To contribute and to learn more about the scholarship, please visit:

https://netcommunity.ucalgary.ca/medicine/rondmathison

 

Image of Sabiha Zaman (Photo credit: Philip Quade)

Image of Ron Mathison (provided by Heather)

Sabiha Zaman - Ron Mathison

Sabiha Zaman - Ron Mathison