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University of Regina to recognize Arthur Opseth, Frank Flaman and Linda Rankin with honorary degrees

News Release Release Date: June 5, 2013 9:30 a.m.

The University of Regina is bestowing the highest honour it offers to engineering professor Emiritus Arthur Opseth; entrepreneur and philanthropist, Frank Flaman; and, Linda Rankin, founding president of the Women’s Television Network. The three are set to receive honorary degrees at the University of Regina's 39th annual spring convocation to be held on June 5-7, 2012, at the Conexus Arts Centre in Regina, beginning at 2:00 p.m. daily. The honorary degrees will be conferred by University Chancellor Dr. William F. Ready, Q.C.

Professor Emeritus Arthur Opseth hadn’t considered a career in teaching before being approached to teach by a former Engineering professor in 1974. Opseth was working at the Saskatchewan Government Computer Centre at the time, but joined the newly formed Faculty of Engineering at the University of Regina because there was something about teaching that appealed to him. From 1974 to 2012, Opseth estimates he taught more than 5,000 students in 12 different courses at the U of R.

Opseth joined the Faculty full-time in 1977, and at different times served as acting assistant dean, assistant dean and acting dean. He received the University’s Inspiring Teacher Award in 1997. Opseth retired from full-time teaching in 2001, spent two years managing special projects for the Faculty, and then taught as a sessional lecturer until 2012.

Opseth grew up on the family farm near Hagen, south of Prince Albert, where he had many opportunities to exercise his aptitude for mechanical engineering. By age 13 he was the chief equipment mechanic on the farm.

Opseth attended a one-room school near Hagen, Sask. and then a two-room school in the town before completing Grade 12 at a high school in Outlook. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. Opseth worked for a year at the National Research Council and then two years with a firm of consulting engineers in Montreal, modifying armoured vehicles for the Canadian Army. In 1964 he moved to Regina to work on computer programming and systems design at the provincial government’s Computer Centre. It was the largest computer in the province at the time, with a whopping 64k of memory.

In addition to his academic duties, Opseth has served as president and in various other roles with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS), and is currently the APEGS representative to the U of R senate. He has also served as a volunteer with several sporting and cultural organizations in Regina and area. 

Frank Flaman credits his parents and growing up on the farm near Southey for giving him a good foundation in life. The farm was also his launching pad for the various businesses that bear the family name. Not content with just farming, and not willing to spend his winters curling, in 1959 Flaman discovered that he could make money renting out farm equipment to his neighbours and buying grain bins in bulk, and selling the ones he didn’t need to other farmers.

Flaman and his wife Bernice raised 10 children, three sons and seven daughters, while they developed the business, offering a wider range of agricultural equipment and expanding across Saskatchewan and into Alberta. In the 1990s, Flaman diversified into Flaman Fitness, where he saw a market waiting to be tapped. At the time, some people openly questioned the move, but the company is now the largest retailer of fitness equipment in western Canada.

Today the Flaman Group of Companies owns 10 retail locations and has close to 100 rental dealerships across western Canada and the United States. Frank Flaman now focuses his business skills on philanthropy, managing more than $1 million a year distributed to charities through the foundation that bears his name. Now living in Edmonton, Flaman supports some local and national charitable organizations through his foundation, but most of its emphasis is on providing the basic necessities of life to people in the Third World. This includes providing funds and manpower to charities including World Vision, Change for Children, Operation Eye Sight and the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity.

Flaman say he would prefer to stay out of the limelight, but he’s willing to speak out and state his belief that the world would be a better place if everyone shared more of the gifts they have.

Linda Rankin says attending the University of Regina was an easy choice since everyone in her family also attended, and her mother taught English to international students on campus. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, Rankin literally flipped a coin to decide whether she would move east or west from Regina. The toss led her east where she would go on to make great contributions to Canada’s telecommunications industry.

After a stint working on freelance contracts in Toronto, and then with Bell Canada in Ottawa, Rankin joined Telesat Canada, which was formed in 1969 as the country’s national satellite service. While there she moved the organization from an engineering-dominated operation to a much larger sales and marketing-oriented business. Rankin received the first Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Satellite Users Association for her role in developing satellite communications, and a Gemini award for her role in bringing to air the first HDTV broadcast in Canada. After Telesat, Rankin became the founding president of Women’s Television Network (WTN), the world’s first specialty channel for, by and about women.

Rankin continued to forge ahead in the area of satellite broadcasting. A broadcast licence for the Green Channel was granted in 2001, but for now, the digital channel is limited to over-the-internet transmission at www.ecology.com. Rankin is also vice-president, Corporate Development, for a company that is developing FreeHD, a more flexible alternative to the way providers currently offer HD movies and other programming.

Rankin’s life journey has also been influenced by two near-death experiences. In the early 1990s she received a bone marrow transplant to overcome B-cell lymphoma. She also struggled through a six-month period of illness in 2012.

In 2004, Rankin was recognized by the University with a Distinguished Alumni award in the business and professional category.

 

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