Donor Profile | Spring 2022

Leading by Example: Two Trailblazers who always put students first

Two nursing students adjust an IV lab in nursing simulation lab

Dr. Darlene Steven's influence is still felt in Lakehead's corridors and classrooms. The former nursing professor, who passed away in 2014, continues to change Lakehead and Northwestern Ontario for the better.

"Darlene was spirited, effervescent, and generous to a fault," says her friend Stephen Hessian. "Her true passion, though, was that all students should receive a quality education and achieve their potential, including those in financial need."

Known for his own generosity as a Lakehead donor, Stephen is also a Fellow of the University who served as a member of Lakehead's Board of Governors for 15 years, including as board chair. In addition, Stephen is the trustee of Dr. Sabah Mansour's estate – a distinguished Lakehead electrical engineering professor and Darlene's husband.

Lakehead quickly became home for Darlene and Sabah. Darlene earned a BA and a nursing degree at the Thunder Bay campus in 1977 before going west to complete her education, where she met Sabah. She returned to Lakehead in 1988 and became the first School of Nursing professor with a PhD.

She immediately began transforming the program.

"Darlene was energetic and very student focused," says retired nursing professor and researcher, Rhonda Kirk-Gardner. It was through Darlene's leadership that Lakehead's Master of Public Health program was created.

She also expanded the School of Nursing's activities. "She had a thirst for research at a time when limited nursing research was being conducted," Rhonda says.

After Darlene's passing in 2014, Sabah created the Dr. Darlene M. Steven Scholarship in Nursing to continue her powerful health care legacy.

In her obituary Sabah noted: "Darlene's dedication to the fight against cancer and to cardiac care was a driving force in Northwestern Ontario receiving much needed equipment including the Mobile Breast Screening Unit."

Nursing student adjust IV bag while instructor looks on.

The Dr. Darlene M. Steven Scholarship in Nursing and the new Dr. Darlene Steven Master of Nursing Award are helping train Northwestern Ontario health care professionals.

Like his wife, Sabah made Lakehead a better place. He oversaw a transformational shift in the Faculty of Engineering from a purely theoretical focus to a combination of theoretical learning and applied research. As the electrical engineering chair from 1995 to 2013, Sabah championed the development of an interdisciplinary Master of Science in Control Engineering and a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

"Dr. Sabah Mansour was a true engineer!" says former Lakehead president, Dr. Bob Rosehart. "He was also very much a student's professor. Some time ago when I was chairing the board of a high-tech company, a new board member turned out to be a successful electrical engineering grad from the eighties. He immediately told me about Sabah's positive impact on his engineering education."
Stephen agrees with this assessment. "Sabah was kind, gentle, and he had a boundless desire for students to prosper."

Become Part of a Lasting Legacy

Through Sabah's generosity, Lakehead has established the new Dr. Darlene Steven Master of Nursing Award and the Dr. Sabah Y. Mansour Scholarship in Electrical Engineering – ensuring that we can continue to help students and celebrate the lives of two people who are changing the lives of many.

If you'd like to give students a better future, like Darlene and Sabah, please contact Philanthropy Director Kathryn Davidson at or 807-343-8010 Ext. 8476.

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