At its convocation ceremonies held in May 2006, Dalhousie Law School awarded, for the first time, the Dawn Russell Community Commitment Award. The previous year, Dawn Russell had stepped down as Dean of the Law School after serving in the position for ten years. Dean Russell enjoyed a successful law practice with Stewart McKelvey prior to her move to Dalhousie Law School.
At a gala reception and dinner held in June of 2005, Dean Russell was acknowledged by a number of university colleagues and members of the bench and bar for her contribution to the law school and broader service to the community. Many paying tribute to Dean Russell spoke of her unfailing dedication as evidenced by placing the interests of the law school ahead of personal interests on many occasions.
It was in this spirit of selflessness that the law school decided to create the Dawn Russell Community Commitment Award. The law school sought support for the project to enable a sufficient endowment to be created to ensure the prize could be awarded annually. Stewart McKelvey was one of a number of proud supporters who participated in the creation of the award.
To be considered for the prize, a student must have demonstrated a commitment to public service throughout their law school career and have expressed an intention to pursue a career path devoted to public service.
The first recipients of the Award were Eugene Kung of British Columbia and Emma Helpern, currently articling with Nova Scotia Legal Aid in Yarmouth. Mr. Kung and Ms. Helpern received congratulations from John Rogers and both wrote to express their thanks for Stewart McKelvey's role in helping create the award. In his letter to John Rogers, Mr. Kung wrote: "I would like to thank Stewart McKelvey for supporting this award and for supporting law graduates who aspire to a legal career in public service. I have personally found that the Award, with respect to both the recognition and the financial aspect, have proven instrumental in my securing an articling position with a public interest organization."
Stewart McKelvey also sponsors a number of other scholarships and awards directed towards law students at both UNB and Dalhousie.