Atkinson gift presents opportunity

After finishing his MBA, Courtney Atkinson came to Lethbridge in 2003 to interview for a position with the University of Lethbridge. At the time, he had never even heard of the city until shortly beforehand. But, as he recalls, after accepting a job in the registrar's office and moving across the country, it took only a short period of time for Lethbridge to feel like home.

"One of the great things I quickly came to appreciate about the U of L was the sense of community. Being a Maritimer, I hold that near and dear to my heart. To me the University felt like a big family who gave a lot back to the community, students and ultimately our society," says Atkinson.

After working for the U of L for six years in various managerial positions in the registrar's office and later HR, Atkinson felt it was time for a change. He shifted gears and started a completely new personal venture in real estate. Now, four years later, Atkinson has not only found his passion, but is also a successful businessperson, something he largely credits to his education and the time he spent working for the University.

"I started the most significant part of my professional career at the U of L and spent some pretty formative years there. It was a period of time where I really had the opportunity to grow and figure out who I was and what I wanted to do," says Atkinson. "I feel deeply indebted to the institution for what it has given me in terms of personal growth, training and professional opportunities."

As a way to express his gratitude, Atkinson made a $25,000 gift to a fund that supports professional development and training for staff, and provides start-up research funds for faculty.

"My vision is to give back to the university community in a way that helps others accomplish their professional goals," he says.

In thinking about the future, Atkinson also established the U of L as the beneficiary to one of his life insurance policies. This will eventually be added to the fund and enable the U of L to further his vision when he is no longer here.

"In my journey, I've really come to value education and how institutions of higher learning impact people's lives," says Atkinson. "The U of L has had such a positive impact on my life. This was an opportunity for me to say thanks to the institution and the people who helped me get to where I am while also helping others accomplish their goals."

This story first appeared in the November 2012 issue of the Legend. To view the full issue online, follow this link.