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Honorary Degree Recipient and Emeritus Award

Spring 2021 Honorary Degree 

The awarding of an honorary degree is recognition by SAIT of distinguished achievement in business, arts or public service provincially, nationally or internationally. We are proud each year to shine light on accomplished professionals and passionate citizens.

Tom Sampson

Tom Sampson

Tom Sampson retired as the Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) in November 2020 after a 35-year career in public service. Throughout those 35 years, Tom dedicated his life to keeping citizens safe, well-informed and protected.

Tom graduated from SAIT in 1985 from the Emergency Medical Technology program and worked in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the next 24 years. Tom also spent five years as Executive Officer and Deputy Chief of the Calgary Fire Department where he built CEMA into the Canadian leader in emergency management. In 2015 he became the Chief of CEMA and continued to push the boundaries of emergency management despite the challenges faced by many different disasters. 

Tom has left an incredible legacy across the province. He has led and mentored teams in many of Canada’s most complex responses. As a Commander of Canada Task Force 2, the team has become a national leader in Heavy Urban Search and Rescue.

Tom’s effectiveness as a compassionate leader built him a reputation of excellence in his field across Alberta and Canada. In 2015, he was a recipient of the Meritorious Service Decoration from the Governor General. This award recognizes individuals who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brought honour to their community or to Canada.

Whether it was the debilitating major snow storms we experience in Calgary, the devastating floods of 2013, the fight against COVID-19, Tom has worked tirelessly to keep Albertans safe. Tom’s legacy of leadership will continue to shape and influence public service. 

“The two great loves in my life are my family and public service... I am fortunate to have spent my career serving citizens.”  -Tom Sampson

Spring 2021 Emeritus Award

Karen Graham

Karen Graham

SAIT is honoured to present Karen Graham with Emeritus status recognizing her tremendous service to SAIT and our students for more than 20 years.

Karen started as a Work Experience Coordinator, helping IT students find practicums and jobs. She retired in May 2021 from the role of Academic Chair in the School of Information and Communications Technologies.

Known as someone who championed access to education for students, Karen made it a priority to support new Canadians, students working full time and needing more flexible courses, and underrepresented groups looking to reskill.

During her time at SAIT, she led the institution’s IT Fast Track programming and initiated programs like Business Intelligence, Web Developer and a unique collaboration with partners called Edge Up, that trained displaced oil and gas professionals for careers in tech.

Karen focused on making connections in industry to better our programs and ensure students had the tools and real-life experiences to set them up for success.

As a lifelong learner herself, Karen earned her Bachelor of Science and a Master’s in Education during her time at SAIT.


"Hold the belief that you can achieve something even in the darkest moments. The only trick is to be persistent and consistent with a humble heart."

Ning Jia, Business Administration ‘12

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