Alumni Award Recipient delivers chapel message (video)

Larry Plenert CMBC 66)
Larry Plenert CMBC 66)

Lawyer, teacher, coach, musician, Olympic athlete – Larry Plenert (CMBC ’78) has worn many hats. His 6’6” frame and prowess on the volleyball court earned him a spot on Canada’s national volleyball team starting in 1973, which led to competing in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. After a short stint teaching, Plenert finished his Bachelor of Theology and then moved on to law school. Plenert practiced law in Abbotsford, B.C. for 27 years. Since 2008, he has worked as an adjudicator of claims of serious physical or sexual abuse by former students of Indian Residential Schools. He lives in Fort Langley, B.C.

Events News Releases

Plans for Fall Festival 2011 Announced

Exciting Weekend of Activities Slated for September 30 to October 1

CMU invites the public to experience two exciting days on campus and get a taste of university life during its Fall Festival 2011, being held September 30 and October 1 at 500 Shaftesbury Boulevard, Winnipeg.

“Fall Festival – replacing CMU’s traditional Homecoming – affords a wonderful opportunity to connect with our university community and participate in variety of exciting events.  Come, visit our campus, experience our faculty in action, glimpse the vibrant student life at CMU, and share in the program, vision, and potential of our university,” says Vice President External Terry Schellenberg.  “Everyone – students, alumni, friends, donors, community members – is welcome to be part of a renewed weekend that will connect and inspire.”

The weekend opens Friday with a celebration to honour CMU’s 2011 Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award winner Ray Dirks along with winners of the 2011 Blazer Distinguished Alumni awards, Lois Coleman Neufeld (MBBC ’80), Judith Klassen Neufeld (CMBC ’97), David Loewen (MBBC ’61), and Robert Wedel (CMBC ’69).

Following the award presentations, guests gather at 7:30 p.m. to explore the issue of human rights in an evening presentation of words and music.  CMU offers a thought-provoking lecture for the public, entitled “It’s Not Only about You” by faculty member Paul Doerksen, followed by a response from faculty member John Derksen. Woven into the presentation will be music of the Quartet for the End of Time, by Olivier Messiaen.

Visitors with an interest in athletics can watch the exhibition volleyball games in the Loewen Athletic Centre from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday.

Activities on Saturday get underway with the challenging MennoCross bike races, 11 to 5 pm. Racers ride a course that twists and turns around CMU’s north campus.  In addition to the competitive class, there are races for beginner and intermediate riders as well as kids. Registration details are available online.

Alumni reunions take place in the afternoon, as well as an alumni choir rehearsal for the evening performances.

Beginning at 3 p.m., a variety of activities get underway, with games, a children’s “bouncy house,” dunk tank, and a pie auction included in the festival’s offerings.  Visitors – and especially parents of students – may be interested in taking tours of CMU’s student residences and campus buildings and grounds.

Of particular interest to guests, from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., will be the presentation of five short “Faculty Samplers” in two time slots.  The “samplers” will offer a taste of the passion and expertise of CMU’s faculty. Dietrich Bartel presents Music as Wellness; Gordon Zerbe’s sampler is Walking the Streets of Paul’s Philippi, Virtually; Candice Viddal offers A Hymn to God’s Glory:  Physics and the Spiritual Dimension; Tim Rogalsky presents Logic Unlocks Pauline Puzzles! Mathematics as a key to understanding the letters of Paul; and a workshop presentation by David Balzer explores The Art of Communicating in Church and Society or why I think our storytelling should be ‘pathetic.’

CMU invites guests to stay for a free BBQ supper followed by an evening celebration service at 7 p.m. featuring the wonderful voices of CMU Alumni and Student choirs conducted by faculty members Janet Brenneman and Rudy Schellenberg, along with student sharing and a short address by CMU’s President, Gerald Gerbrandt.

CMU’s full weekend schedule can be viewed online at  and on our Facebook Page Canadian Mennonite University, Fall Festival tab. You can also follow CMU_Alumni on Twitter.

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is a Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, offering four Baccalaureate degrees with majors in a wide variety of areas. CMU offers programs in arts and sciences, as business, communications, peace and conflict transformation studies, music, music therapy, theology, and church ministries.  CMU also offers Master of Arts degrees in Theological Studies and in Christian Ministry.

Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CMU has over 1,700 students at its Shaftesbury Campus in Southwest Winnipeg, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship program.

CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

For CMU information, contact:
Nadine Kampen,
Communications & Marketing Director
Tel. 204.487.3300 Ext. 621

For event information, contact:
Eleonore Braun, CMU Alumni Coordinator
Tel. 204.487.3300 Ext. 605
500 Shaftesbury Blvd.
Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

General News News Releases

Inaugural Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award to Altona Citizen Ted Friesen

CMU award recognizes lifetime of achievement and service

ted friesen
ted friesen

For release September 28, 2010

CMU presented its inaugural Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award on September 25, 2010 naming Altona citizen Ted Friesen as the first recipient. The award recognizes distinguished achievement and service within the broader community or church, through business, leadership, artistic, political, or volunteer contributions. Presentation of the award was held in conjunction with CMU’s President’s Dinner during annual Homecoming Events.

“I am pleased to announce the Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award and feel privileged to introduce its inaugural recipient, Ted Friesen,” said CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt to a full house in CMU’s Great Hall.

Retired businessman Ted E. Friesen, together with his two brothers, further developed D.W. Friesen & Sons (now Friesens Corporation) into a major business, fully employee owned, and serving the community in significant ways. Throughout his career, Friesen has been an active participant in Mennonite Central Committee, the Canadian Conference of Mennonites, and Eden Mental Health. He also served as the Secretary and President of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada for 28 years (1968 – 1996) and it was during this period that the three-volume Mennonites in Canada was published. A lifelong resident of Altona, Friesen is a founding member of the Altona Mennonite Church.

“I am very grateful for the honour bestowed on me on this occasion by CMU,” said Ted Friesen in accepting the award. “That feeling is also accompanied by a sense of humility when I remember colleagues and co-workers in the various organizations that I have been associated with in the past who would be as worthy if not more worthy for achievements in the area of our mutual work. So, as a survivor, I also accept this award remembering their contributions.”

Friesen began working with his father’s business at the age of 16, Gerbrandt said, noting that today, nearly 75 years later, Ted Friesen still walks across town to the company office, in summer and in winter. “Over the 35 years that Ted and his two brothers, Dave and Ray, led the business, they grew it into one of the premier, most technologically sophisticated printing companies in North America,” said Gerbrandt. “Ted, like his father and brothers, believed that a business should serve its community, and Friesens has modelled that commitment.”

Friesens Corporation has grown into a company of international status and prints for such organizations as National Geographic and major American universities. Not only is it the largest employer in Altona, said Gerbrandt, the employees actually own the company in a unique employee ownership structure

Gerbrandt noted that, besides being an outstanding businessman, Ted Friesen is a churchman and an involved community citizen. “Ted grew up in the Altona Bergthaler Church, and remained active there for many years. Later, he became a founding member of Altona Mennonite, where he and Linie remain active. As a young man, he became involved with the Board of Christian Service of the Canadian Conference,” said Gerbrandt, “and in 1964 he was on the first executive of MCC Canada, helping to establish MCC’s office in Ottawa in 1970.” His involvement with MCC developed his conviction that Mennonites in Canada needed their history told, said Gerbrandt, which led to the establishment of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada in 1968,

“I worked in two communities,” Friesen commented, “the local one, which is the Altona community; and the community of Canada, on the board level of Mennonite Central Committee and the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada and other organizations. When I look at all of these today, I am amazed at how they have grown from humble beginnings and have reached a position that is making a significant impact today, in today’s society, both in the Mennonite and in the larger community. I rejoice that past efforts have been blessed beyond all expectations.”

Gerbrandt further noted Ted’s passion for quality classical music, observing that Ted and Linie raised their family to appreciate fine music and today remain regular attendees at concerts. “Many a young musician has been encouraged through support from Ted and Linie,” said Gerbrandt.

Gerbrandt expressed the appreciation and gratitude of the CMU community for Ted Friesen’s lifelong service to the community: “Thank you, Ted Friesen.”

“I want to give tribute to my good wife Linie and my family who have been very, very supportive all the way. And, in closing,” said Friesen, “I simply want to say with JS Bach, Soli deo Gloria – to God be the Glory.”

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is a Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, offering undergraduate degrees in arts and science, business and organizational administration, communications and media, peace and conflict resolution studies, music and music therapy, theology, and church ministries, as well as graduate degrees in Theological Studies and Christian ministry. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CMU has over 1,800 students at its Shaftesbury Campus in Southwest Winnipeg, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship school. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Media contact:
Nadine Kampen, CMU Communications & Marketing Director;
204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 2N2