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Norm Beirnes’ enduring relationship with the U of R; six decades and going strong

Established in 2012, the Joan and Norman Beirnes Scholarship supports deserving Faculty of Science students.

Norman Beirnes BA’66, NA’69 has an almost 60-year connection to the University of Regina. He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus in 1966 with an Arts degree and earned a master’s in Arts in 1969. He went on to work at the University as a mathematics and statistics faculty member and retired in 1996.

“I taught for 26 years in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. I really enjoyed it,” Norm says.

He was named an assistant Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and served on the University of Regina Benefits Committee and the Faculty Association.

Norm’s wife, Joan Beirnes - who graduated from the U of R in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics - had a successful career with CIBC and eventually became manager of Human Resources for the Saskatchewan region until her retirement.

Joan Beirnes

In 2012, two years after Joan’s passing, Norm established the Joan and Norman Beirnes Scholarship. The $7,500 scholarship is awarded annually to a third or fourth year student enrolled in the Faculty of Science majoring in Pure Math, Applied Math and Statistics, or Actuarial Science.

“Joan and I discussed the scholarship before she passed,” says Norm. “We thought we should give something back to society for all the good fortunes that society has brought to us. Rather than spending money on travelling in my waning years, I’m giving it away,” says the 89-year-old with a chuckle.

Norman makes it a point to meet every recipient of the Joan and Norman Beirnes Scholarship. Without exception, Norm is always amazed by the students he meets.

“I am always impressed,” he says of meeting the recipients. “They’re good students and the only thing I want back from them is to meet them.”

Norm Beirnes

Norm intends to top up the scholarship every year and has made provisions in his will to support the scholarship in perpetuity. His donations do not come in the form of cheques or credit card, but rather he chooses to give securities.

“If you have stocks you can donate them in-kind and avoid paying the capital gains tax,” Norm explains.

Norm’s long association with the University has created a soft spot in his heart for his alma mater.

“The University is a very important part of the community. If you go back years ago all we had was Regina College which offered one or two years of study then you had to go up to Saskatoon to finish off your degree. It’s really important that we have something here to cater to southern Saskatchewan. We have a lot of really good programs here.”

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