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Two University community members awarded prestigious 2020 Saskatchewan Order of Merit

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 9, 2020 10:00 a.m.

The Saskatchewan Order of Merit recognizes individuals who demonstrate a high level of excellence and achievement in any field, who improve the social, cultural and economic well-being of the province and its residents.
The Saskatchewan Order of Merit recognizes individuals who demonstrate a high level of excellence and achievement in any field, who improve the social, cultural and economic well-being of the province and its residents. Photo: courtesy of the Government of Saskatchewan

On Friday, June 5, Saskatchewan's Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Russ Mirasty, announced the recipients of the 2020 Saskatchewan Order of Merit. Two of those named are important members of the University of Regina community. Pamela Klein is the chancellor of the University and a former vice-chair of the Board of Governors. Dr. Gordon Asmundson is a registered doctoral psychologist, professor of psychology, director of the Anxiety and Illness Behaviour Lab, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Chancellor Pamela Klein says
receiving the Saskatchewan Order
of Merit “a deeply appreciated
honour.” Photo: U of R Photography

Klein, president of the Phoenix Group, one of Saskatchewan's leading advertising and communications firms, is the University of Regina's ninth chancellor. She has a long history of community service with a number of organizations and agencies including, Paul J. Hill School of Business, Camp Circle O’ Friends, Amakon Foundation, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Sask Film, Hospitals of Regina Foundation, North Central Family Centre, and Heritage Regina.

“I was speechless,” says Klein upon hearing the news of her appointment. “I was reflective on the magnitude of the honour. I have read about and know many of the recipients both past and present. Their achievements have been highly motivating personally and have clearly shaped our province. It is an unanticipated and deeply appreciated honour for doing what I value in my life and being able to do it in Saskatchewan. I am proud that my family is so much part of this. Truly, it takes a community of support to realize opportunities such as this.”

Klein is the founder of Power of Pink, an event to benefit breast health that has raised $750,000. She is also an inductee in the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame and recipient of the Canada 150 Medal for philanthropic contributions, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation. Klein is a role model for women entrepreneurs and community leaders and has lived and worked across Canada and around the world. She earned her bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Regina in 1980 and went on to attain her master’s in Educational Psychology at the University of Manitoba in 1982. Klein is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Regina with research interest in digital communication and neuroscience.

“When you look at the Saskatchewan Order of Merit recipients I take great pride in the University of Regina Alumni who hold this distinguished honour,” states Klein. “There are honorary degree recipients, past chancellors, past board chairs, researchers, artists and business leaders. In particular, this year’s recipient, renowned psychologist, Dr. Gordon Asmundson. I cannot overstate the honour this holds in my heart.”

Asmundson has published more than 350 peer-reviewed journal articles, 70 book chapters, and 8 books. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received the Canadian Psychological Association Donald O. Hebb Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Science of Psychology. Among the other awards he has received is the CPA Traumatic Stress Section Award for Excellence in Psychology of Traumatic Stress and Canadian Pain Society Distinguished Career Award.

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Saskatchewan Order of Merit
recipient Dr. Gordon Asmundson
says of the honour, “I am truly
humbled, expressing how this feels
is beyond words.”
Photo: U of R Photography

“I am thrilled and very much appreciate the honour of being appointed to the Saskatchewan Order of Merit,” says Asmundson. “It has been satisfying to have had the good fortune to give back to the Province which has offered me so many opportunities throughout my life. It is personally gratifying to know that others view my work as being important enough to warrant such recognition.”  

Asmundson was recently awarded a $399,700 federal grant for his study, COVID-19: The Role of Psychological Factors in the Spreading of Disease, Discrimination, and Distress. The funding was part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Canadian 2019 COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, development editor of Clinical Psychology Review and serves on the editorial boards for nine other journals. His research and clinical interests are in assessment and basic mechanisms of fear, the anxiety and related disorders, and chronic pain, and the association of these with each other, maladaptive coping, and disability. He received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Manitoba in 1991 and in 2005-2006 trained as a Beck Scholar at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research in Philadelphia.

“This recognition would not be possible,” adds Asmundson, “without the collective effort and support from my colleagues, students, mentors, my university, funders, family, and those who nominated me and wrote letters on my behalf. As such, I share this recognition with each and every one of them.” 

Established in 1985, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit is a prestigious recognition of excellence, achievement and contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of the province and its residents. The Order recognizes individuals who have made their mark in such areas as the arts, agriculture, business and industry, community leadership, the occupations or professions, public service, research, and volunteer service. It takes precedence over all other provincial honours and awards. Among past recipients is Joe Fafard, Sandra Schmirler and Tommy Douglas. Klein and Asmundson will receive their Order of Merit when the province removes its gathering guidelines. 

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