Alumni News

Film fest to screen grads’ thriller

Thu, 10/26/2023 - 00:03

Film professor Mike Stasko (BA 2002) is excited that the Windsor International Film Festival will screen a feature he produced alongside a number of other grads, including director Nick Shields (BA 1995).

The psychological thriller Depraved Mind will hit the Chrysler Theatre in the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 27. It depicts a serial killer struggling with amnesia in a prison hospital. When a criminal psychologist helps him recover his memories, he must confront the harrowing truth buried deep in his psyche.

“We had so many UWindsor alumni working on this film,” Stasko says. “Teaming up with everyone at (Shields’ company) Suede Productions was an absolute joy and has elevated everyone’s game for sure.”

Depraved Mind has already played at film festivals across North America and picked up awards including:

  • Best foreign film, Bare Bones International Film Festival
  • Best feature, Motor City Nightmares Film Festival
  • Best of the Fest, Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival

Shields says the story will keep audiences on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

“It’s a story of psychological suspense, exploring the darkest depths of the human psyche,” he says. “I can’t wait for audiences to experience it.”

Find tickets on the Windsor International Film Festival website.

Mike StaskoNick ShieldsAlumniAcademic Area: Arts, Humanities and Social SciencesCommunications, Media & Film

HK alumnus mastermind behind Oilers’ ticket sales

Wed, 10/11/2023 - 00:43

UWindsor alumnus Blake Blondeel (MHK 2018) has one of the most enviable jobs in Canadian sports.

The former Lancer men’s hockey captain manages ticket sales for the Edmonton Oilers, who play their regular-season opener against the Vancouver Canucks tonight. In his role, Blondeel gets to use National Hockey League greats Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as secret weapons.

“We can say we have two of the best players in the world,” Blondeel said of how his marketing team approaches ticket sales.

“If we win the Cup, my job gets easier,” he says with a chuckle.

Blondeel joined the Oilers Entertainment Group in April, with just one game remaining in the regular season. The franchise’s playoff berth was secure and expectations were at a fever pitch. McDavid has again been named the most valuable player in the NHL with his third consecutive Hart Memorial Trophy win, and excitement for the coming season is high.

Blondeel also manages ticket sales for the Western Hockey League’s Oil Kings, which won the league championship in 2022.

“Part of my job is creating FOMO,” said Blondeel, using the acronym for fear of missing out. “It’s about creating a customer journey to drive ticket sales.”

His own journey into his dream career was one of determination and grit.


After graduating in 2018, Blondeel was working as a supervisor at an aluminum extrusion manufacturer in Chatham. He was thankful to have found the factory job through a former hockey coach, but he knew he was wasting his education in sport management and leadership.

Blondeel had noticed as he looked for work in his field that many of the openings were out in Alberta. He would apply, but not get offers.

“I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t there in person, so I took a leap of faith. I packed my bags and moved out west.”

His first interview was with the Calgary Flames. As impressed with his gumption as his credentials, the team hired him as a ticket sales executive.

“I worked at a mall for three weeks before I landed a job with the Flames.”

The transition into a ticket sales management job with the Oilers was natural. With the Flames organization, he was selling season tickets, group packages, and premium experiences. With the Oilers and Oil Kings, he comes up with campaigns and sales strategies for the ticket sales team, and coaches them on sales tactics.

Blondeel looks back at his time at the University of Windsor with great affection. While here, he was president of the Lancer Student-Athlete Committee and performed lots of volunteer work both on and off campus.

As part of his internship program, he worked with the Canadian Olympic Committee. He built the organization’s blog page for One Team, which promotes LGBTQ+ inclusion and respect in schools and in sport across the country. His master’s research was on such social inclusion initiatives in sport.

“My time in Windsor allowed me to grow as a person, as a leader, and as an academic. I have a lot of people to thank for that.”

His passion has always been hockey.

“I always figured if I can’t play in the NHL, I want to be involved in some way… I’m very grateful for what the sport provided me and the relationships I’ve been able to build.”

Growing up in Tilbury, he started his junior hockey career with the Dresden Kings. He played for the Chatham Maroons before joining the Lancers where he captained the team for three of his five seasons and was an Academic All-Canadian and received the captain’s trophy in his final season.

“I really did enjoy my time in Windsor,” he said. But, he added, he’s loving his life out west, too.

“I still play hockey, but I’ve taken on other activities.” He’s an avid runner who also likes camping and hiking. With his trusty Australian shepherd Ollie at his side, he runs up hills and mountains in anticipation for one day competing in an IronMan Triathlon.

“Life is good and I still have so much more I want to achieve.”

—Sarah Sacheli

Blake BlondeelAlumniAcademic Area: Graduate StudiesHuman Kinetics

Boating show smooth sailing for grad

Fri, 10/06/2023 - 00:27

Boating is one of the most popular recreational activities in North America, but it has been “tragically underserved” from an entertainment perspective, says Steven Bull (BComm 2005).

To fill the gap, his production company Bullitage Media created Water Ways, which just began its second season of weekly broadcast on Global TV.

The show celebrates the boating lifestyle, Bull says: “from destinations to the latest and greatest watercraft to incredible stories from those who make their lives in, on, and around the water.”

He credits his UWindsor experience with helping to launch his career.

“My time at Windsor was truly formative,” Bull says. “The marketing foundation laid down by my professors at Odette have underscored the business realities of partners and sponsors and helped me start and grow a small business.”

Plus, a stint writing for the alumni magazine View inspired him to pursue a career in journalism which included several years at CBC Windsor.

He repays that debt by dedicating the 10th of 13 episodes, “Canada’s South Coast,” to Windsor-Essex. Bull, who also hosts, said the challenge is to balance showcasing a region’s offerings for those planning a trip while being interesting for those with no intention of ever visiting.

“In Windsor there’s so much to choose from it was hard to narrow it down,” he says, “but we feature kayaking near Point Pelee on Lake Erie, a sunset cruise on the Detroit River, a guided pontoon trip to Peche Island, and Sea-Doo rental and fishing guides on Lake St. Clair.”

He notes the program goes beyond travel and tourism.

“Anything in, on, or around the water fits the bill,” says Bull.

He spoke with UWindsor researchers and toured the Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre facility in LaSalle.

“The work the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research does is beneficial to everyone in the Great Lakes Basin, especially those who want to enjoy the healthy and clean waters,” he says.

The program airs in Ontario on Global Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Episode 10 is slated for Nov. 25.

Episode 3, airing Oct. 7, stars a special guest — popular science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“I reached out to Dr. Tyson’s team telling them about the show and asking if he would be willing to give 20 minutes of his time to talk about the science of boating,” says Bull. “Not only did he agree to participate, he spent a few hours with us cruising the waters by the Statue of Liberty, which meant enough content to fill an episode.”

Other highlights of the season include attending North America’s oldest sporting event, the Royal St. John’s Regatta in Newfoundland; cruising the historic Canal du Midi in southern France; and a 1400 km journey from Toronto to New York through the Bay of Quinte, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain, and the Hudson River.

Steven BullAlumniAcademic Area: Business

Former dean’s book imparts leadership lessons to children

Tue, 09/26/2023 - 00:21

UWindsor alumnus Jim Weese (BHK 1980, MHK 1983) has been a hockey player, a leadership expert, a guest speaker, a university professor, and a senior academic leader.

The birth of his granddaughter Riley seven months ago inspired him to add another title to his CV: children’s author.

Dr. Weese, former dean of the UWindsor Faculty of Human Kinetics, has recently released The Grandpa Rules: Essential Lessons for Success in Life and Leadership. It’s an illustrated storybook written to inspire children to set goals and to persevere to overcome hardships. It’s a tapestry of what he teaches in his leadership courses and what he has learned through his 65 years of living life.

“Rylee was the impetus for this book,” he said. “I thought, what would I want her to know.”

Weese is a professor of leadership and sport management at the University of Western Ontario. His first book, The 5C Leader: Exceptional Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Times, is used in leadership courses. His second textbook, The Leadership Lifecycle: How to Prepare, How to Excel, and When (and How) to Effectively Exit, will hit bookstands in a few days.

“Writing a children’s book was a different experience,” Weese said.

He said he turned to his friend Paulette Bourgeois, creator of Franklin the Turtle and author of the Franklin series of children’s books, for guidance on how to write from a child’s point of view. UWindsor alum Duncan Lam (MBA 2020), who has authored several children’s books himself, also provided helpful advice.

In his book, Weese reflects on his own childhood, growing up in Dresden, Ont., and the close relationship he had with his Grandpa Smith. He drew inspiration from his mother and in-laws and the impact they’ve had on his two children’s lives.

In the book’s acknowledgments, Weese gives a nod to UWindsor kinesiology professor and friend Wayne Marino, whose mantra, “Do your best, be a good sport, and have fun,” influenced Weese’s philosophy.

“I have always used this mantra in working with children in youth sports and summer camps, and I also incorporated it into the lessons that Grandpa Sherwood offers in this book.”

The book offers children 10 rules for success in life and is informed by the latest thinking in leadership. There are blank pages at the back titled, “Other rules” that grandparents, parents, or even children themselves can use to personalize the book.

The book’s illustrator is Western student Kayla MacInnes. While the grandpa in the book looks uncannily like Weese, the children depicted come from diverse cultures.

Weese is directing proceeds from The Grandpa Rules to four charities: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Junior Achievement, the YMCA’s Strong Kids program, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

He said he hopes the book raises lots of money and helps launch MacInnes’ career.

But foremost, he hopes his book inspires children: “I hope it inspires them to dream big.”

Weese is planning a reading in Windsor; watch for details from the University of Windsor Alumni Association as arrangements are finalized.

—Sarah Sacheli

Jim WeeseWayne MarinoDuncan LamAlumniAcademic Area: Human Kinetics

Homecoming events to welcome Black alumni

Mon, 09/18/2023 - 00:51

The inaugural Black Alumni Weekend, with events running Sept. 22 to 24, will kick off UWindsor Alumni Week.

This is an excellent opportunity for the University to foster an even deeper sense of belonging for our Black alumni,” says Marium Tolson-Murtty (BA 1996, B.Ed 2003, M.Ed 2008), director of anti-racism organizational change in the Office of the Vice-President, People, Equity, and Inclusion and a member of the informal UWindsor Black Alumni and Planning Committee.

The weekend will open Friday with the Back in Black: Black Homecoming Weekend Networking Mixer starting at 6:30 p.m. in the student centre commons. All black attire is encouraged — RSVP required to attend.

The Black to the Future panel discussion and mini-summit will take place Saturday in the Odette Building. Breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m. with the formal program running from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Again, those intending to join must RSVP.

Saturday night starting at 8 p.m., food, drinks, and music are on offer at the Saila Vibes restaurant and bar, 110 Chatham St. West, site of the Black Homecoming Party.

Self-guided tours of the campus, Sandwich Town, and the McDougall Street Corridor are available, as well as the alumni tailgate party and Lancer football game. wTo find details on these activities, additional gathering opportunities, and a list of on-campus partners, visit the event website.

“This is an exciting time for the University of Windsor as we continue to transform the campus by creating safer, more inclusive spaces where faculty, students, staff, and alumni feel that this is truly a place they belong,” Tolson-Murtty says.

The Alumni Week website lists events Sept. 22 to 29.

Marium Tolson-MurttyUniversity of Windsor Alumni AssociationAlumni