2010 News

November 2010


Nearly a decade of service as President of the Okanagan College Foundation has come to a close for Steve Tuck, but his commitment to post-secondary education and supporting students is not waning.

Tuck retired on Wednesday from his role as the first and – to date – only President of the Foundation, which has grown to boast an endowment of more than $7 million, and a record of giving out more than $1 million annually in scholarships and bursaries to students.

He is being replaced by Penticton’s Jim Henderson, who moves from his role as Vice-President of the Foundation. Henderson has been a member of the Foundation Board of Directors since 2004 and has also been leading the $5 million fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technology and Renewable Energy Conservation in Penticton.

Tuck said his passion for supporting students comes from many sources, but credits the support he was given when he was pursuing higher education as a major driver.

“My life wouldn’t be what it is today if others hadn’t offered the support that enabled me to pursue post-secondary education,” said Tuck. “And over my many years of experience in philanthropy, that story has been repeated time and again by students helped by the Foundation and the donors whose contributions make it what it is.

“Helping make those educational and life-transforming dreams a reality is one of the noblest things I can think of.”

When he’s not working on behalf of students and donors with the Foundation, or helping with other charities such as Sunshine Dream Lift for Kids, and the Agur Lake Camp Society, Tuck is the Publisher of Forever Young Magazine.

He will continue in a titled role with the Foundation - that of President Emeritus.

“This is to acknowledge Steve’s great and abiding service to the Foundation, and his expressed interest in continuing to help with the stewardship and fundraising efforts we undertake,” said Henderson.

“Steve has played a pivotal role in bringing the Foundation to this stage of its development,” observed Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “His commitment, his energy, and his passion have helped the Foundation through some teething and transition challenges. What makes Steve’s commitment even more meaningful is that it goes well beyond just being a part of the Foundation - he and his wife Terry have made their own donations to the Foundation in support of students.”

“Although I know that pride can be one of the worst sins, nevertheless, I take great pride in what we have accomplished,” said Tuck. “I say it because the credit needs to go to a whole variety of people; to those who have served on the Board of the Foundation, but especially to the donors.

“An example of the strength of our Foundation is that over the past three years, when other Foundations have had to cut back on what they’ve given out, we’ve managed to increase our disbursements.”

Three new vice presidents were named at the Foundation’s Board of Directors meeting: Frank Richter is the new Vice President Finance, Lorraine McGrath is the new Vice President Fundraising and Marketing and Jim Cookson is the Vice President Governance. (McGrath is an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College, while Cookson is a Distinguished Alumnus.)

November 2010


Peters Bros. Construction Ltd. is helping pave the way to improved access to post-secondary education in the South Okanagan and Similkameen with a $50,000 donation to support Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.


“We know that sustainability is as much about creating access to education as it is about being environmentally responsible,” says Joe Cuzzocrea, President and General Manager of Peters Bros. “We see Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence as something that aligns closely with our goals of supporting the communities we serve, promoting environmental responsibility and pursuing excellence and giving students a closer-to-home education opportunity.”


Peters Bros. Construction Ltd. is a leading paving firm in British Columbia. It is a privately owned and operated company with its head office in Penticton and serves the entire province.


Peters Bros. Construction Ltd. has four plants in Penticton, Kelowna, Merritt, and Williams Lake. The firm is a leading a hot-in-place asphalt recycler that can recycle 100 per cent of the road being replaced.


“Peters Bros. is a well-known company with a reputation for innovation and excellence,” note Yasmin and Rick Thorpe, who are honourary co-chairs of the $5-million fund-raising campaign for the $28-million Centre of Excellence, being conducted by the Okanagan College Foundation. “Their support is another signal of how much this building means to the corporate community in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. They see the value of investing in the means to create the skilled workforce that we’ll need to watch our economy grow and prosper.”


The campaign has exceeded $2 million.


October 2010


Windsor Plywood Oct 2010A $20,000 donation to Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence is an important example of Windsor Plywood’s long-time commitment to building the community, according to Doug Sudchak, the owner and manager of the Windsor Plywood Penticton franchise.


The donation is a welcome signal of how a locally owned and operated company is supporting the community and the importance it attaches to sustainability in building practices, according to Jim Henderson, Vice-President of the Okanagan College Foundation and the man spearheading a $5-million fundraising campaign for the Centre.


“Windsor Plywood has been in Penticton for more than 35 years and we know the role that Okanagan College has played here. With expanded trades training and the new programs that the Centre of Excellence will bring, we know it is going to be an even more important part of the community,” says Doug Sudchak. “We are really pleased to be able to offer this support as acknowledgement of that.”


“Over the years we’ve provided builders and homeowners with many of the materials that have gone into building this community. You could say that this donation for the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation is doing the same thing.”


The $28-million Centre of Excellence promises to be one of the continent’s greenest buildings when it is complete in March, 2011. Federal and provincial investment, through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, is being supplemented by donations from the community to make the 70,000-square-foot structure a reality.


“This is an investment in the future,” says Henderson. “We know that the Centre will create jobs and benefit companies in our region for years to come.”

October 2010


A donation of pine boards from Gorman Bros. Lumber to Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence is driving home the messages of sustainability and stimulus.

A truck left Gorman’s in West Kelowna this morning carrying a donated shipment of tongue-and-groove pine boards to Penticton for the College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

“This wood comes from beetle-infested forests in the Okanagan,” explained Ross Gorman, one of the founders of Gorman Bros. “It meets the specific requirements of the College’s ambitious efforts to create one of North America’s greenest buildings, and we’re proud to support that.”

“Our company and employees share a significant belief in sustainable forest practices,” says Gorman Sales Manager Cameron Cook. “Being able to put excellent value-added product into a Centre of Excellence is a terrific fit. Helping the College meet the Living Building Challenge is especially meaningful to all of us at Gorman’s.”

“This lumber carries a very positive message,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “One of the valley’s best-known family firms is stepping up to support the Centre of Excellence at a time when we know things aren’t particularly rosy in the forest industry. This connection also points to how the local economy and local firms benefit from the investment being made in this building, in post-secondary education, and in sustainability. These are local resources being put to use, creating work for the area’s employees.”

When the federal and provincial governments announced funding for the $28-million Centre of Excellence in April 2009 under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, it was as part of the joint stimulus plan intended to spur sputtering regional economies. It’s estimated the project – due to be complete in March 2011 -will create 180 jobs.

“Support from Gorman’s is very much appreciated,” says Jim Henderson, who heads the Okanagan College Foundation’s $5-million fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence. “Collectively, we’re showing the world that this is a project that can draw the entire region together to make it happen. We’re demonstrating that environmental and economic sustainability can go hand-in-hand to create long-term capacity for education and training.”

Ross Gorman was named an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College in 2007 for the commitment he and Gorman Bros. have shown to the College through donations and scholarships and for the support demonstrated for the community.

October 2010


Ramada Coast Kettle Oct 2010Three local businesses demonstrated their commitment to social responsibility today as they announced support for Penticton students and Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technology and Renewable Energy Conservation.


Management from the Ramada Inn & Suites, Coast Penticton and Kettle Valley Station Pub presented Okanagan College with $50,000 to create student study space in the new $28-million building, which is on schedule to open this spring.


“Penticton is a close-knit community and what is good for our young people is also good for the community,” explained Gordon Ferguson, General Manager of the Ramada Inn & Suites and Coast Penticton. “Our contribution to the Centre of Excellence will go toward creating useful study space for students as they pursue their educational goals.”

Several students from Okanagan College were in attendance at the announcement and had the opportunity to express their gratitude toward each of the businesses and their owners, Janice and Robin Agur. The donation was accepted by Steve Tuck, president of the Okanagan College Foundation.


“We have had a long and productive relationship with the Agur family and the businesses they operate here in Penticton,” explained Tuck. “They are strong partners and friends of Okanagan College and their commitment to this community and its students is admirable. We are grateful for their continued support and value the services they extend to students, employees and community members.”


“Today’s contribution combined with the $66,000 raised over the years through the Ramada’s annual wine auction brings the total level of support for Okanagan College to $116,000,” said Martin Lewis, Director of Food and Beverage and shareholder for the Ramada and Kettle Valley Station Pub. “Our staff has been committed to supporting education and we are proud to be a part of the College’s growth and success.”


The Centre of Excellence is on budget and scheduled for completion in 2011 at a cost of $28-million. It is aiming to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge – the highest designation for sustainable building in North America, and one that has not yet been achieved.


The Federal and Provincial governments supported the Centre of Excellence initiative with $23-million in funding, $13-million and $9.1-million respectively, through their Knowledge Infrastructure Program.

September 2010


Jordy Koenig 2010For the fourth year in a row TELUS has awarded $5,000 to three of Okanagan College’s top performing Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology (NTEn) students through the Jordy Koenig TELUS Scholarship, bringing TELUS’ total contribution to Okanagan College students to $20,000.


Scholarships were presented on Wednesday in front of the largest classes of first and second year NTEn programs Okanagan College has ever seen. Troy Berg was awarded $2,500, Jeffrey Nishi earned $1,500 and Colin MacDonald accepted the award for $1,000.


The scholarship was developed in 2007 to support students who successfully complete the first year of the program on a full-time basis and enter the second and final year of NTEn. Named after one of TELUS’ own employees, Jordy Koenig, the scholarship is aimed at supporting students and more closely connecting students to employers, while helping to bridge the gap between education and industry.


Koenig, a communications and networking technologist with 30 years of service at TELUS, took a personal interest in students in the College’s NTEn program in early 2003 and has since contributed countless hours of his time working with students over the past years.


Driven by the belief that industry and training should be closely linked, Koenig spearheaded an initiative that brought NTEn students to the TELUS facility in Kelowna to gain a practical perspective on their future industry. The success of the partnership resulted in Jordy’s appointment to the College’s Program Advisory Council, a position he has held since 2004.


Taking an interest in students enrolled in NTEn has been a valuable investment for TELUS. Since they began offering the scholarship in 2007, they have hired 5 out of the 12 scholarship winners. In total, TELUS currently employs 22 graduates of Okanagan College’s NTEn program.


“In offering the Jordy Koenig TELUS Scholarship we have been able to achieve two important goals,” explained Mitch Galloway, Director of Network Assurance for the BC Interior and Island. “We are helping to ensure the existence of a solid pool of highly skilled potential employees for TELUS and we’ve been able to recognize and honour the contributions of one of our most dedicated and valued employees.”

September 2010


REFBCStudents who attend Okanagan College in Penticton will benefit from new classroom space dedicated to studies in sustainable building practices thanks, in part, to a generous donation of $100,000 from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.


The grant was announced this afternoon at the Penticton campus by Karin Kirkpatrick, CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of BC.


“Our Board has been impressed by the vision of Okanagan College and its leadership team in their pursuit of innovation and in their commitment to creating learning resources for living building technology in the Centre of Excellence,” said Kirkpatrick.


“Supporting this building and the programming that will develop as a result of the new space was a natural fit for our organization. Land use knowledge, sustainability and conservation are the driving forces behind everything we do as we seek to provide leadership in land use and work to align resources in this province.”


The six-figure donation was received by Rick and Yasmin Thorpe, Honorary Co-Chairs of the Centre of Excellence Fundraising Campaign and Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.


“This donation pushes the campaign total over the $1.78 million mark,” said Thorpe. “With support from community-minded organizations like the Real Estate Foundation of BC we are making steady progress in reaching the campaign’s $5-million goal.”


“It is extremely satisfying to watch as two organizations working in quite different sectors come together to pursue common goals and values such as sustainable development, conservation and education,” said Hamilton. “The key factor in this partnership is the Real Estate Foundation of BC’s strong leadership, generosity and their commitment to land use knowledge and responsible practices.”


The Real Estate Foundation of BC is a non-profit corporation that was established in 1985. Throughout the past two decades it has distributed more than $55.8 million in communities throughout BC. In the year 2009 alone, 57 grants totalling $1.48 million were approved by the Board of Governors.


The Centre of Excellence is on budget and scheduled for completion in 2011 at a cost of $28-million. It is aiming to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge – the highest designation for sustainable building in North America, and one that has not yet been achieved.


The Federal and Provincial governments supported the Centre of Excellence initiative with $23-million in funding, $13-million and $9.1-million respectively, through their Knowledge Infrastructure Program.


For more information: www.okanagan.bc.ca/centreofexcellence.

July 2010


Fortis July 2010FortisBC is supporting the establishment of Penticton’s new Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation with a $50,000 donation to create dedicated classroom space for students entering the technologically challenging electrical apprenticeship program.

FortisBC Inc., a Canadian-owned electric utility with 14 field offices throughout the Southern Interior, has a longstanding relationship with Okanagan College since 1992.

John Walker, President and CEO of FortisBC and Terasen Gas Inc., made the announcement in Kelowna this morning in front of dozens of electrical apprentice students.

Over the years, the company has helped the Kelowna campus save more than 1.3 megawatts, or 5,808,839 kwh of energy — enough to power nearly 450 homes for a year. They’ve also provided more than $600,000 in energy efficiency rebates.

“We are proud to support Okanagan College in creating a sustainable building technologies and renewable energy conservation campus,” said Walker. “Our community investment strategy supports projects that promote electrical trades, literacy, leadership and safety.”

The company’s pledge of $50,000 establishes the FortisBC Electrical Apprenticeship Classroom.

“FortisBC is the latest of a host of organizations that have recognized the value in supporting the Centre of Excellence,” said Steve Tuck, president of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We have bee fortunate to partner with FortisBC in the past and this new development is a very real indication of their commitment to this region and its future.”

FortisBC’s contribution has helped push the Okanagan College Foundation’s fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence over the $1.52 million mark.

The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation is playing a pivotal role in shifting the perspective of Canada’s construction community, demonstrating that going “deep green” on an institutional project doesn’t mean having to pay a premium.

The Centre is being built with the investment of $22.5-million from both federal and provincial governments, along with a further $5-million from the Okanagan College Foundation and donors such as FortisBC.

June 2010


West Kelowna resident Danielle Hofer will have help pursuing her Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Okanagan College this fall, thanks to the generosity of former MLA Rick Thorpe and his wife Yasmin John-Thorpe.

Hofer is the 2010 recipient of the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship. The Mount Boucherie graduate was selected for the scholarship based on her academic standing, educational pursuits and outstanding community contributions.

The $2,500 scholarship was established to support students from the west side of Okanagan Lake, from Penticton to Killiney Beach, who enrol at Okanagan College in a range of studies including: business, viticulture, agriculture, engineering, tourism, trades, technologies, English or creative writing.

Hofer will attend Okanagan College this fall to study business. The Okanagan School of Business was especially appealing to Hofer because of the opportunities for students to work closely with community and in student organizations such as Students in Free Enterprise.

“I am very interested in social entrepreneurship and I know there are great opportunities to specialize in this field at Okanagan College,” said Hofer. “My ultimate goal would be to one day work for the Canadian Red Cross and use my business training to implement programs, systems and support for health care and education around the world.”

Hofer has already gained experience working abroad. She, along with classmates from Mount Boucherie, worked on a campaign to raise funds for a village in Kenya to provide better access to potable water, medical services and education. The 18-year-old traveled to Kenya this year to provide feet on the ground for the project.

“I am really very grateful to be receiving this scholarship,” said Hofer. “I plan on doing great things with my education and am thankful that Rick and Yasmin Thorpe see the potential in me.”


The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of the South Okanagan understands the importance of investing in the future. CHBA Presentation June 2010

That’s why the group recently announced a $10,000 donation to Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation along with an annual $3,000 contribution to fund awards for students enrolled in Residential Construction programs at the Penticton campus.

“Our board and members view this contribution to Okanagan College and its Centre of Excellence as an important investment in the future of our youth and of this region,” said Doug Carnegie, Treasurer of the CHBA South Okanagan and Commercial Account Manager for Valley First. “Investing in students and in the construction of the Centre of Excellence will deliver a large payback to our local economy.

“We will all benefit from this large expansion of Okanagan College. The Penticton campus will be able to offer a wide range of courses in Arts & Sciences, Health, Business and specialized trades. In addition to making education more affordable there will be more employment opportunities.”

With a strong focus on environmental sustainability and innovation in construction, the Centre of Excellence project aligns well with the value and goals of the CHBA South Okanagan, said Carnegie. The CHBA’s Built Green program is also aimed at reducing the building trades’ environmental impact. Carnegie points to new innovative trades training programs, such as the College’s new geothermal technician, as another way the College is addressing industry change and progress.

“We recognize the value of the support and strong partnership we have built with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of the South Okanagan,” explained Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “Their recent contributions will have an impact on the success of the Centre of Excellence and will be felt on a very personal level by the students who will receive the new CHBA South Okanagan Bursary.”

Students who are residents of the South Okanagan and Similkameen and are enrolled on a full-time basis at the Penticton campus in either the Residential Construction or Carpentry Level One apprenticeship programs will be eligible to apply for the bursary. The recipient will be determined based on a combination of academic achievement and financial need and the bursary may be split to assist more than one student per year.

“Our members are always looking for well-trained employees and we are aware that not every student is able to meet the financial challenges that come along with post-secondary training,” explained Carnegie. “It is our hope that the CHBA South Okanagan Bursary will assist students in achieving their goals and will further develop the strength of our work force and skilled tradespeople.”

The Centre of Excellence is being built with the investment of $22.5-million from both federal and provincial governments, along with a further $5-million from the Okanagan College Foundation and donors such as CHBA South Okanagan. 


March 2010



A $150,000 donation from the BC Wine Information Society has pushed the $5M Centre of Excellence fundraising campaign over the $1.4 million mark. The Society announced its gift at a special celebration today.

“This is an extraordinary gift from an extraordinary group of people,” according to Okanagan College president, Jim Hamilton. “The Society has proven once again that they are committed to doing what is best for the community. Their donation will go a long way in supporting our students by creating study spaces, recreational facilities and providing the latest in equipment and technology.”


BC Wine Information Society Board President, Keith Bevington, says the Society’s donation reflects the importance it places on the College and in particular, what the Centre of Excellence will bring to the area.

"The Centre of Excellence will increase the opportunities for more people to study and stay in the area. The College’s viticulture program has already proven to be an enormous asset and the new programs offered through the Centre will benefit even more businesses.”

Established in 1996, the Society operates the VQA Wine Shop, the first VQA store in BC, located in the Penticton & Wine Country Visitors Information Centre and returns the profits to the community for wine education and awareness. It also promotes BC wines and wine tourism in the Okanagan. In 2006, the Society established two College awards and today it presented its Bursary Award, given to a full time student entering the Viticulture Certificate Program at the Penticton campus, to Nick Thompson of Penticton. Its Scholarship Fund is awarded to a student who has completed their studies in the Winery Assistant Certificate Program at the Penticton campus.

The Society’s donation to the Centre of Excellence fundraising campaign will help create more opportunities for more students through expanded and new programs. The additional space provided through the Centre opens the door for more than 500 new students to study and train in the South Okanagan while surrounded by the encouragement and support of family and friends. It is anticipated that when they graduate, most will continue living in the area, boosting the economy and increasing business opportunities.

Centre of Excellence fundraising campaign chair, Jim Henderson, calls the Centre a showcase and says it already has boosted the area’s profile.

"Our fundraising campaign is aimed at the latest technology that will take the Centre to the next level in green construction, energy conservation and sustainability,” said Henderson. “Our graduates will be job ready for the marketplace and will use their education to build and create new business opportunities in fields that are becoming increasingly important in our world.”

The Centre of Excellence is on budget and scheduled for completion in 2011 at a cost of $28 million. The Federal and Provincial governments supported the initiative with $23 million in funding, $13 million and $9.1 million respectively, through their Knowledge Infrastructure Program. The College has committed to raising the remaining $5 million through its fundraising campaign.

With one year left in the fundraising campaign, the eleven-member Centre of Excellence campaign executive committee is aggressively seeking donations to hit the $5M total. For more information and to donate visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/centreofexcellence or call 1-888-650-6968.


telus_logoIn support of TELUS' philosophy to “give where we live,” TELUS will give $100 to the Okanagan College's Centre of Excellence for every new TELUS TV customer in Penticton, Summerland, Naramata and Okanagan Falls. 

“TELUS believes in the importance of community. I, along with all of our team members in the Penticton and South Okanagan area, am so pleased to support the Okanagan College Foundation with a gift of $100 in the name of every new TELUS TV customer in the area,” said Steve Jenkins, TELUS General Manager. “TELUS team members are proud to enable important community infrastructure projects that benefit the communities where they live, work and serve.” 

"We're excited that TELUS has chosen to support the Centre of Excellence through its campaign in the South Okanagan," says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. "The commitment of TELUS and its employees to the communities they serve is well-known. They have been recognized internationally by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for their philanthropic leadership, with the 2010 Freeman Philanthropic Services Award. Their choice of this project as a beneficiary shows how committed they are to education and sustainability."

The Okanagan College's new Centre of Excellence, a LEED certified building, will increase the college's capacity and will teach sustainable construction and energy conservation.

This new $100 gift in the name of every new TELUS TV customer in support of Okanagan College's new Centre of Excellence begins today and will run for one full year.

TELUS TV offers over 400 channels, including 40 in High Definition (HD); an HD Personal Video Recorder (PVR) allowing you to record, pause and replay live TV and Pay Per View, so you can order live events from the comfort of your couch. TELUS TV also offers onscreen Call Display right on your TV and time shifting so that there are more chances to catch your favourite programs outside your local time zone.

TELUS began offering TELUS Satellite TV in June 2009. TELUS Satellite TV service complements TELUS' IP-based TV service by expanding the availability of TELUS home bundles including TELUS TV, Home Phone and High Speed Internet to more than 90 per cent of households across British Columbia and Alberta.

To order TELUS TV or for more information, go to telus.com/tv or call 310-MYTV (6988).

February 2010



Two prominent citizens of the South Okanagan are adding their support to the fundraising campaign for Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation in Penticton.


Yasmin and Rick Thorpe have a long association with Okanagan College and will serve as Honorary Campaign Co-Chairs of the $5-million fundraising campaign for the Centre of Excellence.


“I’m thrilled,” says Okanagan College Foundation President Steve Tuck. “Yasmin and Rick are tremendous supporters of the College and post-secondary education in the Okanagan. They’ve helped make higher learning a reality for many students in our region through their scholarship program.”


“I know the respect they have earned from the residents of the South Okanagan and British Columbians,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Their presence will significantly benefit our fund-raising and help make the Centre of Excellence a reality in Penticton.”


“Rick and I are strong advocates of Okanagan College and we are committed to working with the citizens, businesses and the communities of the South Okanagan to make the new Centre of Excellence a reality,” says Yasmin.


Yasmin is very active in several programs focused on writing and literacy in the South Okanagan. As a co-founder of the volunteer organization, the Penticton Writers and Publishers, she was instrumental in organizing an annual week-long BC Youth Write Camp and is also very involved in the South Okanagan’s Raise-a-Reader program.


Rick served for 13 years as an MLA and Cabinet Minister in the South Okanagan, retiring in the spring of 2009.


In 2005, Rick and Yasmin, in partnership with Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan, established a $250,000 scholarship fund. To date, 28 students from the Okanagan have received $2,500 first-year scholarships (for a total of $70,000).


“Yasmin and Rick have been sincere and valuable friends to the College as it has developed,” says Jim Henderson, who is spearheading the volunteer fundraising committee in the South Okanagan. “Their decision to help with our fundraising efforts is a welcomed boost.”

January 2010


The campaign to establish Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation received its largest donation to date with the announcement of a $135,000 commitment from RBC.


RBC’s contribution will help realize the Okanagan College Foundation’s $5 million capital fundraising campaign to finance the development of the $28 million Centre of Excellence in Penticton, which is being designed and built to meet one of the most demanding set of environmental standards, the Living Building Challenge.


“It is exciting to be a part of such a unique and inspiring project,” said Karen Borring-Olsen, Regional Vice President RBC Royal Bank. “RBC is pleased to join the growing network of community-minded donors, both citizens and corporations, who share a vision for education, innovation and sustainable growth in the Okanagan.”


The announcement of RBC’s donation was made this evening during the Olympic Torch Relay community event held in Kelowna. RBC is the presenting partner of the 2010 Torch Relay, which invited thousands of Canadians to participate in the relay through its carrythetorch.com campaign.


“We have been extremely fortunate to partner with a number of organizations that have taken the time to grasp just how important and groundbreaking this building will be for the Okanagan,” said John Walker, President & CEO, Fortis and Chair of the Okanagan College Foundation’s capital campaign. “The addition of RBC as our largest corporate donor is tremendous news for the campaign and for Okanagan College.”


For Okanagan College Board of Governors member Brian Hughes, news of the donation hit home – he is also a Vice President for RBC Dominion Securities in Penticton.


“I have the privilege of working with Okanagan College through the Board of Governors and know first-hand how much great work is being done by the College in the South Okanagan,” explained Hughes. “I take a great deal of pride in the fact that RBC is stepping up to support such an important project for the people and future of this region.”


The Centre of Excellence is funded by the Federal and Provincial governments, who provided $22.6 million through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, and the Okanagan College Foundation and its donors. The 6,622 square-metre facility is being heralded as one of the most innovative and environmentally sustainable buildings in the nation. It will more than double the size of the existing campus and will expand program and research opportunities for learners across the region.


To find out more about the Centre of Excellence, visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/centreofexcellence.

January 2010


Three years after her husband’s death, Ute Koessler made the difficult but emotionally rewarding decision to donate his tools to students at Okanagan College, despite being offered thousands of dollars for the valuable collection.

“The last thing Hermann said to me was ‘I have so much knowledge to give, I wish young people would want to be tradespeople,’” she said. “My husband was so skilled and willing to teach people, he was so proud to be a tradesperson. I know he would be honored to have his tools used by so many learning the trades.”

Koessler’s lifetime worth of tools, valued at more than $87,000, were hand delivered by his friend Mike Goodmurphy and his wife Ute, who took the time to speak to a group of entry-level Automotive Service Technician students at Okanagan College; telling them about Hermann’s life, his work and his passion for their chosen field.

A German immigrant, Hermann arrived in Montreal in 1969 with one heavy suitcase containing a few articles of clothing and his most prized possessions, his tools. A trained and experienced mechanic, possessing a meister brief from Germany, Hermann’s lack of English made his early years in Canada challenging. While others were paid $5 per hour, Herman earned just $2 for the same work.

Supervisors quickly took note of his mechanical aptitude and ability to fix nearly anything and Hermann was able to overcome his language barrier, rising through the ranks.

Hermann’s skills took him around the world; he and his wife eventually moved to the Okanagan and settled in Oyama. In 2001 a fire swept through the Koessler farm burning down Hermann’s workshop and collection of tools.

Insurance replaced Hermann’s tool set, which included grinders, drill presses, table saws, and hand tools – those new tools all now live at Okanagan College.  

In one of his last conversations with his wife, Hermann told Ute “Every day I have left is a gift, and I have only one regret, people don’t want to learn from my vast knowledge they just want me to do it for them.”

“If Hermann were here today,” said Ute, “he would give you apprentices this advice: take it easy, make it nice. There is no such thing as good enough - it either works or it doesn’t, tools don’t fix things, you do. Don’t be ashamed to be a tradesperson, it is a noble profession, tradespeople are extremely valuable, little to nothing runs without a tradesperson, and you will help so many people with your skills and knowledge.”

As per his wife’s wishes, Hermann’s tools have been distributed throughout the trades shops at Okanagan College. Some went to the RV Service Technician shop, others to Automotive Service Technician and some to Carpentry. Ute believes Hermann would have been most happy working in the RV department, where students learn a little bit of everything.

“We are honoured to accept Hermann Koessler’s tools,” said John Haller, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Okanagan College is a place of learning and a place where we promote the same passion and appreciation for the trades. We know the importance of providing skills and training to the next generation and are humbled to carry on his legacy.”

In addition to her generous donation of tools, Ute plans on establishing legacy scholarships at Okanagan College in her husband’s name to support students in the Women in Trades program and individuals coming through the Gateway to the Trades program.

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