Alumnus, Politics’74 Economics’74
Arthur Peltomaa is an individual who embodies both sides of the brain.
One side of his brain is engaged in law and philanthropy. After becoming an accomplished corporate lawyer, Art so appreciated the life-changing opportunity he’d received at Brock that he wanted to enhance the experience for generations of students to come. So he paid forward his gratitude to Brock by generously giving to the beautiful, student-friendly Matheson Learning Commons — and asked that it be named for his favourite professor: “Bill Matheson was to me and others a mentor and source of inspiration and encouragement.”
His generous gift is a symbolic gesture of his educational experience at Brock and also provides present and future students with a learning environment to pursue their own educational dreams.
“Much of what I have been able to achieve in life I can trace back to Brock and to the people who taught me here. They taught me how to think, not what to think. That’s an important distinction.”
After earning his BA from Brock in 1974, Art attended Osgoode Hall Law School where he earned his Master of Laws. Today he’s a partner in the Toronto office of the law firm Bennett Jones LLP.
The other side of Art’s brain is focused on family and culture.
He’s a dad who can be found at pool sides and ice rinks, proudly encouraging his son’s development as a hockey goalie and his daughter as a figure skater and swimmer, among other activities.
He also has a passion for architecture and sculpture, has undertaken a number of building design projects and has sculpted in a range of materials, including wood, stone, clay and concrete.
Marilyn I. Walker
A collective gasp, followed by cheers and a thunderous and prolonged standing ovation, greeted an announcement on Nov. 5, 2008 that philanthropist and fibre artist Marilyn Walker was personally donating $15 million to Brock University’s School of Fine and Performing Arts to ensure every student has an opportunity to express their creativity.
It was the largest gift ever received by Brock University or made in the Niagara region.
Brock has renamed its school the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, with a facility likely to be built in downtown St. Catharines. The renaming is in tribute to the donor’s reputation as an internationally recognized fibre artist, teacher, author and philanthropist. Marilyn is also an active supporter of the arts and arts education across Canada, and at Brock University in particular.
“It is through participating in cultural events that we enjoy the benefits of what I like to call intellectual therapy,” said Marilyn at the event. “Arts, heritage, and culture give a community its character and vibrancy. They make a community an attractive place to live, work, and play.”
In recognition of her many achievements and her enduring friendship with Brock, Marilyn received an honorary doctorate at the 2008 Fall Convocation.
As a fibre artist, Marilyn is a pioneer, both in terms of technique and in teaching others about the history of quilts and how they have emerged as an important consideration in the art world.
Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Marilyn lectured and taught at guilds across Canada and the U.S. She curated the first Canadian Contemporary Quilt competition and her achievements have been recognized with many awards, including the Canadian Historical Association Award of Merit for her book, Ontario’s Heritage Quilts.
Marilyn’s also a community leader and committed arts advocate whose thoughtful leadership and heartfelt dedication has created positive change in Niagara. She is a devoted volunteer and supporter of local arts and was awarded a Mayor’s Patron of the Arts Award in 2007 by the City of St. Catharines for her noteworthy contributions.
Marilyn has worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the St. Catharines chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, and has been enormously important in sustaining the St. Catharines Area Arts Council, Bethlehem Place and Women’s Place. She also played an instrumental role in the revitalization of Rodman Hall Arts Centre.
Alumnus, Physical Education’90 and Computer Science’90
Denis Dyack made his first video game as a Brock undergraduate student. It was a sign of things to come.
Today, Denis heads up Silicon Knights, the darling of the high-stakes video gaming industry and a major player in the revitalization of downtown St. Catharines and Niagara.
The entrepreneur, who received bachelor degrees in physical education and computer science in 1990, was on track to join the ranks of physical education teachers. Outside the classroom he competed as a Badger varsity wrestler and learned a good life lesson.
“Wrestling is a tough sport. I learned that when you lose, you get beat up,” he says.
His athletic credentials also include becoming a full-contact Canadian taekwondo champion.
Silicon Knights has developed a number of well-known games, most recently “Too Human” for an Xbox 360 trilogy. The company recently partnered with Brock University, Niagara College, the City of St. Catharines and the Niagara Economic Development Corp. to form nGen, a project designed foster the development of an interactive media industry in St. Catharines.
Denis says most of his employees are from Niagara, with an average age of 25.
"I'm always looking for people who have a long-term interest in staying in the Niagara area," said the St. Catharines native. "I plan to remain here because of all it has to offer."