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Queen’s remembers donor, alumnus Dennis Sharp

Dennis Sharp (Sc’60) is being remembered as a successful businessman and philanthropist who helped the next generation of Queen’s students by supporting various causes, including Gaels football and student health and wellness initiatives. 

Sharp, a former Gael football player and geological engineering graduate, passed away on July 31 in Montreal.

“Because of Dennis’ generosity, the lives of our students and their time at Queen’s has been greatly improved. His legacy is reflected in the kindness and care he gave to others,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. "His support helped ensure Queen’s could provide students with health and wellness services that have become even more essential over the last several years.“

Sharp was a long-time supporter of his alma mater, making gifts in support of the Queen’s Fund, the Gaels football team, and the Integrated Learning Centre in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. He was also a volunteer and advocate for the university with many of his colleagues and fellow alumni in Montreal and Western Canada.

In 2018, Sharp – together with his wife, Hélène Côté Sharp, and their family – gave a $5-million gift through the Côté Sharp Family Foundation to support student health and wellness at Queen’s. The Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre in Mitchell Hall is named in their honour.

“Wellness will continue to be an important issue with students for decades to come,” Sharp said at the time of the gift announcement in 2018. “The (Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre) will be there to help them address any needs that come up. Our hope is that it becomes an important part of the Queen’s campus.”

Sharp, originally from Hamilton, came to Queen’s because of the great reputation of the school’s engineering program and the university’s relatively small size. He remembered his time at Queen’s as among some of the best years of his life.

“It was a wonderful environment – a great place to make friends, and those friends have stayed with me to this day,” he once said. “As you advance your career, you’re always looking back on what is meaningful. For me, Queen’s became more and more meaningful as time went on, and I became a bigger and bigger booster of the university.”

Sharp was passionate about energy and technical innovation. He combined these with an ability to inspire, lead, and raise capital to build a number of “game-changing” companies in Western Canada, specifically CS Resources and UTS.

The innovative extractive technologies developed as a result of his vision have become commonplace in the upstream Canadian oil and gas sector. His business skills led him to serve on many boards, including EnCana Corporation, PanCanadian Petroleum Limited, and Azure Dynamics Corporation (a world leader in hybrid electric vehicles at the time). In 1996, Sharp was given a great honour in his industry when he was named governor and chairman of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

In 2003, he received the John B. Stirling Montreal Medal, the highest honour from the Queen’s Montreal Alumni Branch, for his contributions to the university and leadership in the Canadian business world.

“With his infectious laughter and boundless energy, it was a personal privilege to get to know Dennis,” said Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand (Artsci’94). “His devotion to family, Queen’s, and community set an example for all, and he will be deeply missed.”