Okanagan College News 2008

Records 1 to 10 of 58
Discover the secrets of creating a successful workplace

Okanagan College Media Release - Dec. 12, 2008

The workplace today is a dynamic and complex environment. Members of a generation are linked by experiences shared during their formative years. These shared experiences contribute to the creation of shared values, attitudes and behaviours.

The challenge for leaders and employees alike is to create an organizational climate that fosters understanding and trust that improves morale and productivity among all the generations.

Okanagan College’s department of Continuing Studies has created a new series to help tackle these challenges. Workplace Success runs on Thursdays from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. from Feb. 5-26, 2009.

In this interactive series, instructor Angela Holland will address strategies for communication, motivation, change, mentorship and retention for each generation. These insights can lead your business in the right direction towards a more stable, effective and empowering workplace, says Holland.

For more information on the Workplace Success series or to register for any Continuing Studies program call the office 250-862-5480 or register online at: www.okanagan.bc.ca/csreg

Learn the management skills supervisors count on

Okanagan College Media Release - Dec. 11, 2008

Management in today’s organizations is under increasing expectations to produce more tangible results with less resources, support and personnel. Maximizing the personal effectiveness of people at all levels of the organization is critical to the bottom line and to a healthy work environment.

Okanagan College is offering a 12-day certificate program to equip supervisors with the necessary skills and tools needed to be an effective manager. The course is designed to ensure hands-on management training that is immediately useful on the job. The instructor, Dianne Keer, has over 20 years of experience as a group facilitator and training consultant.

The popular certificate has been offered at Okanagan College for over 15 years, educating hundreds of managers, and has received the support of local business leaders including Rob Crawford, manager of Learning and Development at Kelowna Flightcraft.

“We run a company where effective time, employee and project management is integral to the success of our business,” said Crawford. “Recognizing that our supervisors required additional skills to enhance their leadership skills, we turned to Okanagan College. They offered the Management Skills for Supervisors certificate programs in-house to our employees and used information and exercises that were relevant to our employees. As a result of this training, our supervisors have immediately been able to implement strategies to improve their jobs as well as made recommendations towards efficiencies. I would recommend this program to any company.”

The Management Skills for Supervisors certificate program is being offered Tuesday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. over three months in three seminars: Interpersonal Skills for Supervisors, February 17 – 20, Team Building, March 17 – 20, and Performance Management Skills, April 21 – 24. Each course is $689.50 and registration is being accepted by calling 250.862-5480, on line at www.okanagan.bc.ca/csreg or by emailing lbauer@okanagan.bc.ca for more information.

Take time to create a healthy lifestyle

Okanagan College Media Release - Dec. 11, 2008

Okanagan College is promoting healthy lifestyles by offering four new programs that focus on health and wellness. These new programs promote the importance of regular exercise, healthy diet, weight control, stress management and the benefits of an active lifestyle, says Lorrie Bauer, Program Administrator.

The four new courses found in the personal interest section of the Continuing Studies winter brochure are: Being Fit over Fifty, which covers the benefits of being physically active and the strategies to use to slow the aging process down; W.O.W. - Women on Weights, a women’s only program that introduces the participant to the weight room and provides an introductory weight training routine; Rise and Shine Tai Chi, a class that emphasizes complete relaxation and meditation in motion, and Common Self Defence for Women, a personal safety and self defence class with simple-to-learn, effective and proven self defence techniques.

“These new courses clearly help identify that healthy living is about how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally and that maintaining good health is essential to our well being and quality of life,” says Bauer.

Being Fit over Fifty is offered Thursdays, Jan. 8 to Feb. 12, 8:30 to 9:45 a.m.

W.O.W.–Women on Weights is offered Thursdays, Feb. 19 to March 12, 8:30 to 9:45 a.m.

Rise and Shine Tai Chi is offered Tuesdays, Jan. 20 to Feb. 24, 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Common Self Defence is offered Tuesdays, March 3 to 24, 8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

For more information or to register for these healthy lifestyle programs drop by the Continuing Studies Kelowna office at 1000 KLO Road, call 250.862-5480, or register online at www.okanagan.bc.ca/csreg.

College accounting team earns trip to national business competition finals

Okanagan College Media Release - Dec.2, 2008

Two aspiring accountants will put their education and training to the test when they take on the top five university accounting teams from across Canada at the final round of the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) at Queen’s University in January.

Fourth-year Okanagan School of Business students Magnus Aaserud and Sandeep Bahniwal will be the only college students represented in the final round, an honour they earned after placing among the top six teams in the preliminary round last month.

The competition, which will celebrate its 31st anniversary this year, is regarded as Canada’s premier national undergraduate business competition. A select group of universities (that has included Okanagan College since 2006) are invited to compete in preliminary rounds in seven categories: accounting, business policy, ethics, debating, finance, labour arbitration, marketing, and management of information systems.

The top six finalists in each category attend the final competition, which is held at Queen’s from Jan. 9-11, 2009.

Aaserud and Bahniwal were selected to compete in the preliminary round of the accounting portion of I.C.B.C. by Okanagan School of Business professors Derek Cook and Randy Newton, who also serve as coaches to the team.

For Aaserud and Bahniwal, the final round of competition will test their focus and time management skills. They will be presented with an accounting case to analyze, will be put into seclusion, and given five hours to put together a power point presentation. Unable to leave the room, Aaserud and Bahniwal will draw upon their knowledge and expertise in accounting to successfully present solutions to their case before presenting to the judges.

The duo exudes confidence and says their education has prepared them well for the competition, which Bahniwal plans on winning.

“We are the only college to participate alongside 27 universities and that shows that you don’t have to go to a big name university to get a good education,” said Aaserud. “Our achievement helps to put Okanagan College on the map and shows that although we are only a little college in the interior of BC, we are up there with the big guys.”

Cook will accompany the duo to the final competition, where he will offer his support to the students as they take on teams from Memorial University, Saint Mary’s University, Simon Fraser University, the University of Manitoba and the University of Western Ontario.

“Randy and I will spend the next few weeks working with Magnus and Sandeep to help prepare them for the competition,” explained Cook. “At this point we can’t teach them to analyze an accounting case - and we don’t need to - they have learned all they need to know from their years of experience in the Okanagan School of Business. What we’ll be focusing on is making sure they are well prepared to have impact when they present to a panel of CEOs and business leaders.”

Bahniwal credits professor availability as one of the main reasons for student success at the Okanagan School of Business.

“The program is really good but where Okanagan College takes the cake is the professor interaction,” said Bahniwal. “I could knock on any prof’s door and they are available to help me anytime. That is the advantage – they give you that extra bit of knowledge that you wouldn’t get at a big university.”

Cook happens to agree.

“Our accounting program is well-known and respected in the Okanagan and our grads get jobs,” said Cook. “But achieving success at this level demonstrates that not only are our students successful in our region, they are on par with the best from across the country.”

Pay it Forward giving drive launches annual campaign

Okanagan College Media Release - Nov.26, 2008

Now in its third year, Okanagan College’s Pay it Forward challenge, a giving drive aimed at helping local community organizations during the holiday season, is accepting donations at campuses in Salmon Arm and Kelowna.

The campaign began three years ago after Okanagan College Kelowna business student Sarah Comba was motivated to make a difference in her community. Inspired by a concept taken from Catherine Hyde’s book “Pay it Forward,” Comba partnered with the Okanagan College Alumni Association to build on the concept of promoting a chain-reaction of single acts of kindness.

Now an Okanagan College alumna, Comba is continuing to lead the campaign, which aims to collect a variety of useful items, food and clothing for a range of non-profit organizations in Salmon Arm and Kelowna.

“The Alumni Association is proud to partner for a third year with Sarah to carry on the important initiative that she started,” said Kara Kazimer, President of the Alumni Association. “We will be drawing on support from our students and staff and encourage members of the greater community to get involved and donate what they can.”

Donations of clean and gently used warm winter clothing for adults and children, non-perishable food items, small gifts for children under 13 years, disposable baby diapers, unused toiletries, household items, books and cash donations are being accepted at Okanagan College campuses in Kelowna and Salmon Arm up until Dec. 10. For those who donate items during the morning of the last day of the drive, student volunteers will serve hot chocolate, coffee and snacks.

Charities and community organizations in Kelowna that will receive donations include: Kelowna Gospel Mission, Kelowna Women’s Shelter, Kelowna Food Bank, Kelowna Drop-In Centre and the Arthritis Society. In Salmon Arm donations will be made to the Salvation Army, SPCA and Okanagan College students who require assistance.

TD Bank strengthens access to business education with a $125,000 donation to Okanagan College

TD Bank Financial Group today announced its $125,000 donation to Okanagan College.   TD’s partnership with Okanagan College will provide financial support to business administration students by way of bursaries.

“Providing access to post-secondary education is a top priority for TD. Our goal is to make a difference in our communities and that’s why we’ve partnered with Okanagan College,” said Jane Russell, Senior Vice President, Business Banking, TD Canada Trust.  “The establishment of the TD Bank Financial Group Bursaries program at Okanagan College will help ensure the current generation of students receive access to the best education and training possible.”

“We recognize there are opportunities for TD to fund any number of educational institutions, organizations, or charities, and we are honoured to accept this donation from TD Bank Financial Group,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Their continued support of local students demonstrates TD’s social and corporate values and commitment to playing a role in the education and training of the future leaders of the region.”

Over the next five years, TD Bank Financial Group bursaries will be distributed to students at a rate of $25,000 per year. Annually, 23 awards of $1,000 will be awarded to Business Administration students plus two awards of $1,000, which will be disbursed to students who are entering full- or part-time study in the Office Administration program (Applied Business Technology or Legal Secretary) at any campus of Okanagan College. 

Students eligible for the bursaries include those who have completed one or more years of full- or part-time study in the Business Administration program (diploma, degree or certificate) at any campus of Okanagan College and who are returning the following September for a subsequent year of full- or part-time study.

“This donation from TD Bank Financial Group marks the second time in just five years this organization has come forward with a financial gift that will help change the lives of a great number of students,” said Steve Tuck, President of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We are extremely grateful for TD’s support and are proud to partner with such a generous organization.”

To find out more about the TD Bank Financial Group Bursaries visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca or call (250) 762-5445 ext. 4775.

Former Okanagan College president, who remembers tenure as best six years of his life, dies at age 87
Okanagan College Media Release

ronfinalFlags are at half-staff today at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus as staff mourn the loss of the one of the institution’s well-respected leaders, Ron Jeffels, who died on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the age of 87.

Jeffels led Okanagan College as president from 1975-80. He is remembered by former Okanagan College president Bill Bowering (1988-97) as someone who brought a great sense of joviality and camaraderie to the workplace and raised the profile of Okanagan College in the region through his strength as a dynamic speaker.

“We are saddened by the news of Ron Jeffels’ passing and express our sincere sympathies to his wife Maebrette, daughter Trixie and grandchildren,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Ron played a great role in the history of Okanagan College and will be deeply missed by those who had the pleasure of working alongside him.”

Jeffels came to Okanagan College in 1975 from the University of Victoria, where he held the position of registrar and later, dean of Student and College Affairs. Jeffels had a celebrated career in the military, where, in his own words, he was shaped by his military experience.

“You come second as an officer,” said Jeffels. “You don’t count and the men do, so you do everything to ensure that they are clothed, housed, fed, happy, looked after and so on. I brought that with me when I came back to civilian life. I looked at running the College as a military operation. I made a point of drifting around the office, greeting the staff early in the morning, seeing how they were, comforting them if necessary.”

That sense of leadership was well remembered by colleague and former registrar of Okanagan College, Trevor Braem, who was hired by Jeffels in 1978. Braem worked for Jeffels for five years and the two maintained a strong personal friendship after Jeffels left Okanagan College to become president of the Open Learning Institute.

“Ron was a colourful character and a very dynamic and eloquent speaker,” remembered Braem. “He was very student-oriented and made some great achievements at Okanagan College during his tenure as president. Ron worked hard to bring about the Library in Kelowna as well as the Student Services Centre.

“What I valued about him most though, was that he treated people very, very well. Ron had an incredible capacity to remember people’s names and he would take the time to thank his staff, and everyone around him, personally by name for the work they did. He administered with flair and lots of panache – he was a very classy man.”

Jeffels earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta, and a Bachelor of Education and Master’s degree from Cambridge University. Throughout his career and even after retiring, Jeffels held close ties with several post-secondary institutions.

His first job in education was as an associate professor of French language and literature at UBC. He went on to work for a time as assistant to UBC President John Barfoot Macdonald. In that role he helped author the Macdonald Report on Higher Education in British Columbia and a Plan for the Future. After working at the University of Victoria, Okanagan College and the Open Learning Institute, Jeffels retired but continued writing and taught creative writing at Douglas College.

When reflecting on his time at Okanagan College, Jeffels recalled the experience fondly. “I was fairly well known by people in the college system and they attracted me there,” said Jeffels. “I always wanted to be the president of something and in those days the salary was attractive, I liked the Valley and I liked the people. It was the happiest six years of my life.

“My idea in education is never to spend too long in one institution. One of the things I’m proud of is the relationship I established with students. I’ve never forgotten the headlines in the student newspaper when I left. It said, ‘Jeffels resigns; who can possibly replace him?’”

A memorial service will be held on Friday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. at Boal Chapel:
1505 Lillooet Road
North Vancouver, BC
(604) 980-3451

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Maebrette & Ron Jeffels Scholarship or the Lions Gate Foundation.
Record number of students compete for chance to represent Canada in World RoboCup Games

Okanagan College Media Release - Nov. 19, 2008

Students from across the region with a keen interest in science and technology will test their problem-solving and team building skills when they gather at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Friday morning to compete in the third annual Western Canada RoboCup Junior.

Hosted by Okanagan College, Western Canada RoboCup Junior is an internationally accredited educational competition which includes teams of students ranging from Grade one to Grade 12 working to develop solutions to one of three specific challenges (soccer, rescue and dance) using robots.

This year will mark the third annual Western Canada RoboCup Junior – a record number of students have signed up for the event, which will draw close to 100 elementary, middle, and secondary students from schools such as Kelowna Senior Secondary, Anne McClymont Elementary, and Peachland Elementary, to name a few.

“In our third offering of RoboCup Junior we are finding the appetite for the competition is greater than in previous years,” said Nadir Ould-Khessal, professor of Electronic Engineering Technology at the College and Chair of RoboCup Junior.

The events get underway at 9:30 a.m. in the College’s Pit area with the soccer and rescue challenges. In soccer, teams comprised of two autonomous mobile robots track a special light-emitting ball in an enclosed field and attempt to score goals. In rescue, robots follow a course, negotiate uneven terrain and identify victims within re-created disaster scenarios.

The dance competition begins at 2 p.m. in the College’s lecture theatre. Teams competing in dance perform with their robots in choreographed routines set to music and will be judged in a range of areas including robot programming, design, costume, use of stage and entertainment value.

Ould-Khessal has been involved with the International RoboCup Federation for the past 12 years both as a team leader and participant. He designed teams while teaching at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore and later at VAASA University of Applied Science in Finland. His involvement stems from a belief that the games are an excellent way to promote learning in a challenging and creative environment.

“RoboCup is a project that integrates many technologies at the same time,” said Ould-Khessal. “Students have to develop skill in construction, programming and most importantly, problem-solving. We stress education over competition. That is why the three challenges remain the same from year to year – so students can build on their previous success.

“Internationally, the RoboCup Games are a highly technical event. The goal of the RoboCup project is to develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can compete, and win, a game of soccer against the human world champion team by 2050.”

Whether that can be done or not remains to be seen. Winning students in Friday’s Western Canada competition will qualify to represent Canada in the World RoboCup Games in Graz, Austria from June 29 – July 5, 2009.

Major sponsors of the event include the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), the Okanagan Science & Technology Council (OSTEC), UPS Always On and Signalink.

For more information about Western Canada RoboCup Junior, visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/robocup. To find out more about RoboCup International, visit: www.robocup.org.

Okanagan College students benefit from American Express, Wine Festivals Society partnership

Okanagan College Media Release

Amex Oct small

(L to R) Yasmin Kara, Kathy Butler,
and Gary Reynolds: a partnership
that will benefit students

The proof is in the purchases - students in Okanagan College’s wine, food and hospitality courses will benefit from a program that took place during the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival in May this year.

Recently, American Express’s Vice-President Sales, Global Commercial Card, Yasmin Kara, presented Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation, with a cheque for $5,000 that was raised through a partnership between the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, American Express, and the Okanagan College Foundation.

Through the month of May, including the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival (May 1 - 10, 2008), $3 from every American Express transaction at participating wineries was collected to go toward helping students and supporting the wine, food and hospitality courses at the School of Business at Okanagan College.

The program’s goal - $5,000 – was achieved.

"This was a tremendous program, giving our Cardmembers and wineries the opportunity to support the development of the wine, restaurant and tourism industries in the Okanagan," said Kara.

American Express and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society have worked together on other projects, but this was a first where the co-operation was aimed to directly benefit students and programs at Okanagan College.

"This partnership will pay real dividends for our members,” said Gary Reynolds, President of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society and the owner of Lake Breeze Vineyards in Naramata. "The School of Business at Okanagan College and its graduates have important roles to play training future team members for all areas of our wineries. Our society, its members, American Express and the College are investing in the future."

In 2006, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society created a new award program for students in the College’s advanced culinary arts diploma program.

“We’re pleased that the Wine Festivals Society and American Express have chosen to support students and programs through partnership with the Okanagan College Foundation,” said Steve Tuck, President of the Okanagan College Foundation.

About the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society:

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society now has 87 member wineries and over 45 tourism operators that work collaboratively to bring the world to Okanagan Wine Country. The society organizes four annual Okanagan Wine Festivals and pursues a high profile marketing strategy to attract wine tourists on a year round basis. The 10-day Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is the oldest of the four festivals and is consistently awarded the designation of "Top 100 Events in North America." Its success has led to the establishment of the 10-day Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, the iconic five-day Icewine Festival held in January at Sun Peaks Resort north of Kamloops, B.C. and the intimate two-day Okanagan Summer Wine Festival at Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon.

About American Express:

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Canada Inc. and Amex Bank of Canada. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Business Travel, Travel Services Network and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express Cards in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs more than 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast.

College to welcome record number of exhibitors at 27th annual Career Fair

Okanagan College Media Release - Oct. 24, 2008

The Interior’s largest career fair will bring more than 130 exhibitors, programs and services to Kelowna on Sunday, Nov. 2 for Okanagan College’s 27th annual Career Fair. The College will open its doors to the public from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. for this free event.

A variety of events will take place throughout the course of the day giving participants an opportunity to find out about potential careers, speak to recruiting employers, and learn how to put their education to work. Participants can also explore the campus and watch demonstrations varying from ice carving in the Culinary Arts department, to a mock crime scene investigation in the Chemistry lab, to a live demonstration of the Kelowna Fire Department’s Ladder Truck.

For those thinking about getting a post-secondary education, Career Fair will offer two valuable seminars, one for adults considering going back to school and the other for parents of students who plan on attending a post-secondary institution in B.C.

New to Career Fair this year is the Adult Learner Seminar, which will take place in the College’s lecture theatre at 11 a.m. This seminar is for anyone who has been out of school for at least one year and is considering enrolling at Okanagan College. Participants will learn about the admissions process, upgrading, distance education, the Okanagan School of Business and how to finance a post-secondary education.

College Prep 101 for Parents will take place at 1 p.m. in the College’s lecture theatre. This two-hour seminar delivers important information about the post-secondary process, the admissions process, student services and financial aid and awards.

“Career Fair 2008 is shaping up to be the biggest event of its kind in the region,” said Katie Bowyer, Career Fair organizer. “Whether people are interested in learning about job options for today or planning for the future, Career Fair 2008 offers people a chance to meet a wide range of employers and find out how their interests, education and career goals can mesh.”

To view the schedule of events for Career Fair 2008 or to view all exhibitors, visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/careerfair.

Four new members for Okanagan College Board of Governors

Okanagan College Media Release

Two new members have been appointed to the Okanagan College Board of Governors by the Provincial Government and two new student members will be joining the body this fall.

The Province recently appointed Loretta Swite, a Councillor with the Westbank First Nation and an Okanagan College alumna, to the Board for a year. Yvonne Pinder, a former Vice-President of Finance at Okanagan College and former Chief Financial Officer of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology as well as a former Director of Integrated Financial Services at Saskatchewan Health, will also serve for a year. Their terms end in September, 2009.

Swite graduated from Okanagan College’s Civil Engineering Technology program in 2001. She has served as the Chair of School District 23’s Aboriginal Education Committee since 2003.

Recent student elections to the Board of Governors resulted in two acclamations: Jason Manning, a Civil Engineering Technology student, and Zhen Zhou, a Business Administration degree student.

The Province also reappointed Brian Hughes, of Penticton, to another three years on the Board, ending in 2012.

“Loretta and Yvonne will bring valuable perspective and experience to our deliberations,” said Janet Shaw, Chair of the Board of Governors. “We’re looking forward to Jason and Zhen joining us as well to bring their insights to bear on our decisions.”

Swite, Pinder, Zhou, and Manning join Shaw, Vice-Chair Lance Kayfish, Michael Conlin, Bill Cooke, Rick Gee, Hughes, Paul Johnson, Jane Lister and Angelika March on the Board. The Board’s next business meeting is Nov. 25, 2008.

Okanagan College to host Conference on Community Sustainability in a Changing Global Environment
Okanagan College Media Release

Four renowned experts on the topics of community sustainability, environmentalism and climate change will address a range of local and global issues on Oct. 24 and 25 when Okanagan College and Willis Associates present the Conference on Community Sustainability in a Changing Global Environment at the Kalamalka Campus Lecture Theatre.

The two-day conference is part of Okanagan College’s annual Speakers’ Series, which will bring together students, professors, the general public and the business community to hear national and international experts weigh in on critical issues for the public.

The first session will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24 with presentations from John Robinson, a professor from the Institute of Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, and Bruce Sampson, an international environmental consultant.

Robinson will speak about climate change issues and share some of the work he and his institute are engaging in on the issue of trying to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation in broader strategies of social change for sustainability.

Sampson will review three global challenges: energy, climate, and ecosystems, and will touch on his experiences with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the approach leading businesses are taking to address these issues.

The second day of the conference will kick off on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 9 a.m. with a presentation by Tim Lesiuk, Climate Change Secretariat for the BC Government. Lesiuk will discuss various approaches to sustainability in the face of climate change that might be especially effective in communities struggling with these issues, independent of the struggle in larger urban environments.

The final speaker for the conference will be Richard Hebda of the Royal BC Museum and the University of Victoria. Hebda, an internationally acclaimed specialist in the field of climate change, will focus on what communities can do to alter best practices so that they address the complex issues of climate change.

Following Hebda’s presentation, a roundtable discussion with all four speakers will take place.

Tickets for the conference are $50 for both sessions and $30 for one session for the general public. The conference is offering a special rate of $5/ticket for post-secondary students.

Seating is limited and tickets can be purchased at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka Campus, The Vernon Chamber Of Commerce and The Bean Scene
Well-known Okanagan developer steps forward to help business students

Okanagan College Media Release

One of the Central Okanagan’s best-known developers and businessmen is adding a new entry to his resume: entrepreneur-in-residence for Okanagan College’s School of Business.

Ed Hall, co-president of Canadian Adult Communities and CEO of Regency Retirement Resorts, has accepted the volunteer challenge of helping provide real-world perspective to the 1,400 students enrolled in the College’s Business Administration programs.

Ed Hall

“We’re more than pleased that Ed has accepted our invitation to bring his experience, insight and education to our program,” said Dr. Jayne Brooks, Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business. “He has a sterling reputation as a thoughtful, ethical and successful businessman who has helped shape the face of our valley.”

Hall, through his partnerships in Regency Resorts and Canadian Adult Communities, has been involved in building several retirement resorts and communities, accounting for about 2,500 dwelling units in the region. Regency Retirement Resorts owns and operates more than 500 dwelling units in the Kelowna area, targeted at the seniors market. The include Sandalwood, Missionwood and Westwood Retirement Resort.

“I was contemplating how I might contribute to the development of young entrepreneurs and businesspeople when I was approached by the College with this opportunity,” said Hall. “The School’s focus on entrepreneurialism, small- to medium-sized enterprises as well as its reputation and track record of working in and with the community all led me to accept.

“I’ve already met some of the professors and students and am looking forward to the challenge.”

Hall has a Masters of Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Calgary.

He is the College’s second entrepreneur-in-residence. The first, another well-known area businessman, was Bill Redmond, who founded and headed HRI Foods before the Okanagan company was bought by SYSCO Foods in 2001.

What is it that an entrepreneur-in-residence does?

“That’s a great question because each individual who takes on the role will get to decide how it is answered,” explained Associate Dean of Business Barry McGillivray, who brought the concept to the Okanagan.

“We know that Ed will be speaking to some classes and that he will be available to students who want to talk to him about their future in business, but from our experience with Bill, we know the role can – and will – be much more. The advice and insights these individuals can offer to students is invaluable and our students are quick to take advantage of opportunities such as this when it is afforded them.

“It’s another example of the opportunities for our students to make real connections between their business education and the communities they will be working in.”

Award-winning journalist to headline College’s Free Media event

Okanagan College Media Release    

Okanagan College students and staff from the department of Communications will host a weeklong media education and awareness event, Free Media, from Tuesday, Sept. 30 until Saturday, Oct. 4 that will feature a keynote presentation by award-winning journalist, filmmaker and University of Washington digital media professor, Hanson Hosein.

Hanson Hosein
Hosein’s professional experience includes fieldwork as a journalist for CBC, MSNBC.com, and NBC Nightly News, where he won an Emmy for his work on “The Fall of Kosovo.”

His film Independent America: The Two-Lane Search for Mom & Pop was an early exercise in the use of digital technology in storytelling and ongoing interaction with its audience. Self-produced and self-financed while living in Kelowna BC, the award-winning documentary has also been featured by Yahoo!, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Variety, ABC News, National Public Radio, and has been broadcast by NHK Japan, SBS Australia and the Sundance Channel.

Hosein will give a series of keynote addresses on Friday, Oct. 3. The first will take place in Vernon at the Kalamalka campus lecture theatre at 11 a.m. Later that day he will address students, staff and community members in Kelowna at the Kelowna campus lecture theatre at 6:30 p.m. Prior to Hosein’s keynote address in Kelowna, Okanagan College’s multimedia club will launch its new zine, OC Zine (www.oczine.net) with a party that starts at 5 p.m. in the Kelowna campus greenspace.

Open air documentary film screenings will take place in the Kelowna campus courtyard at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2. All events are free, all ages, and open to the public.

The event will offer a forum for mainstream and independent media professionals, including an esteemed collection of journalists, writers, broadcasters, artists, activists and publishers, to engage with the public on issues related to the media and how it contributes, or not, to a free and democratic society.

Free Media will conclude on Saturday with two panel discussions including: Media and Culture and Media and Democracy. For more information about the event, contact Sharon Josephson at 762-5445 ext. 2237 or email sjosephson@okanagan.bc.ca.

Minister announces loan program for Jamaican students

Okanagan College Media Release - Aug. 25, 2008

KELOWNA, B.C., Canada – The Hon. Pearnel Charles, Jamaica’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, today announced a new $200,000 loan program for Jamaican students attending Okanagan College.

Under the program the students in need can borrow the funds that will allow them to attend the College and are expected to repay it as quickly as possible. The fund is being financed by the Jamaican Government. Charles made the announcement at the College, where a growing number of students from Jamaica are pursuing trades and academic education.

“This is a new program for us, and one inspired by the tremendous success that our students are having at the College and in finding employment afterward,” he said. “Okanagan College has established a one-of-a-kind relationship with our Government and with all the Colleges in Jamaica. In effect, what Okanagan College has done has helped shape government policy in this regard.”

A hundred or more Jamaican students are expected to attend Okanagan College this fall in regular academic and vocational programs, while as many as 400 more Jamaicans are expected to participate in a unique program that combines work experience and College trades training. The program prepares the participants to challenge the exams to attain Canadian Red Seal Certification as journey tradespeople.

“Our relations with Jamaica continue to strengthen,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “This is a relatively young initiative in terms of international partnerships, but through industry involvement in British Columbia, partnerships with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, and determination on both sides, we have created marvelous opportunities for students and for skilled workers from Jamaica.”

Charles also announced that Jamaican colleges will soon begin teaching Okanagan College’s Practical Nursing curriculum, to prepare Jamaican students to come to work in Canada and qualify to write the Licensed Practical Nurse exam in British Columbia.

As many as 400 Jamaicans may be studying the College’s curriculum in their own country as early as this fall, he said.

College, SD 67 to partner with Habitat for Humanity

Okanagan College Media Release

The innovative trades training program that pairs residential construction students with hands-on learning through the building of a home, will break new ground early next year in Penticton when Okanagan College’s Home for Learning program joins forces with Habitat for Humanity’s South Okanagan chapter.

The program sees students with little or no experience in the construction trades undergo 6-8 weeks of classroom training before stepping onto a construction site where they work as a team to build a home from the ground up.

The 2009 Home for Learning project will be the third home built by Okanagan College in the South Okanagan. Previous projects included a Built Green BC designated home in Summerland, a series of not-for-profit projects in Cawston and a second residence in Summerland, which is nearing completion.

Traditionally, the Home for Learning program partners with community and industry sponsors, building the home at a reduced cost before putting it on the market. The net proceeds from the sale of the home are reinvested in the program, providing scholarships for trades students and purchasing new tools and equipment.

The 2009 South Okanagan Home for Learning will not be sold at the end of the project – it already has an owner -- Maria Cox -- a single mother of two who is also an Okanagan College alumna.

Cox was selected as the recipient of the Habitat for Humanity project after a lengthy process, explained Florence Barton, Chairperson of Habitat for Humanity South Okanagan.

“This project is going to be a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Barton. “Maria’s family is in need of an affordable home and through this community partnership, we are going to be able to build an environmentally sustainable home that Maria will buy at Habitat’s cost to build it. In exchange for doing 500 hours of work for Habitat, Maria will get an interest-free mortgage.”

The 2009 South Okanagan Home for Learning will include one other major partner, School District 67 Okanagan Skaha. As has been the case with previous projects, students from within the school district have the option of taking the program through the provincial ACE IT program, which allows students to earn technical training credit for level one Carpentry at Okanagan College as part of their high school graduation program.

The home has been designed by local architect Cal Meiklejohn and a lot has been selected. The lot is currently pending approval by the City of Penticton. Students in the program will be instructed by Okanagan College faculty while receiving overall project management from Habitat for Humanity board member and former building inspector, Ken Kunka.

“The project is going to do a lot of good for our community,” said Barton. “Since Habitat's mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty this partnership is a perfect fit. Maria and her family are going to have a great new place to call home and my hope is that the young people who work on the house also learn the importance of contributing to the community through volunteerism.

The joint project with Okanagan College will be the second home built by Habitat for Humanity South Okanagan. The organization was established in the region in 2004 when it began building its first home.

To find out more about the Home for Learning project visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca or call 250-492-4305. For more information about Habitat for Humanity visit: www.habitatsouthokanagan.ca.

College, CBC Radio One to host: The Changing Face of Kelowna – Are we Ready?

Okanagan College Media Release - Sept. 23, 2008

A panel of representatives from the fields of education, business, media, service agencies and the City of Kelowna will participate in a groundbreaking forum to increase public awareness, understanding and dialogue about cultural diversity, multiculturalism and racism at a forum hosted by CBC Radio One on Thursday, Sept. 25 from 12 – 2 p.m. at Okanagan College.

The project, The Changing Face of Kelowna – Are we Ready?, is a joint initiative conceptualized by the Intercultural Society of the Central Okanagan (ISCO) along with partners: the Economic Development Commission (EDC), Okanagan College, UBCO, SD #23 and Kelowna Community Resources (KCR).

The panel discussion will highlight key findings from the working committee’s three-month study, which utilized focus groups to determine areas of strength and weaknesses within the city’s infrastructure and how Kelowna is managing issues related to cultural diversity.

The discussion will be moderated by CBC Radio’s Marion Barschel and will feature Sharon Shepherd, Mayor of Kelowna, Carlos Teixeira, UBC Okanagan, Woody Cross, Economic Development Commission and Joyce Brinkenhoff and Cyril Moore, of ISCO.

“The goal of the forum is to share the findings of our report with the community and to take it one step further,” explained Joyce Brinkenhoff, Co-president of ISCO. “We know there are some things we are doing very well in Kelowna and we know there are some areas that require some attention. By bringing together some of our community’s decision-makers and those with expert knowledge in the areas of diversity and multiculturalism we will be in a position to further this dialogue, engage members of the community and formulate an action plan.”

The first hour of the forum will consist of a panel discussion; the second hour will be comprised of breakout sessions led by additional facilitators. The public’s input and participation is encouraged. Those wishing to attend the forum should arrive at the College’s Pit in the Student Services Building for the noon start.

Funding for The Changing Face of Kelowna - Are we Ready? was provided through a Heritage Canada grant.

Enrolment grows at Okanagan College

Okanagan College Media Release - Sept. 23, 2008

For the third year in a row, enrolment at Okanagan College has grown with 5,229 students arriving to take programs at the College’s campuses this month.

That’s an increase of 3.4 per cent from the previous September.

“These numbers point toward another good year for the College,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “We have exceeded our own and government’s expectation for the past three years and this snapshot of our fall enrolment suggests that we will once again meet and exceed government targets.”

The September enrolment picture tells just part of the story at the College. There are programs and courses that start throughout the year and the calculation of how many students are served by the institution isn’t made until after the end of the fiscal year (March 31).

For the 2007-08 fiscal year, for instance, the College educated the equivalent of 7,166 full-time students (including 473 international students). That was 103 per cent of the provincial government target. The year prior, it had educated the equivalent of 5,826 full-time students, 112 per cent of the provincial target.

“Those numbers are significant but not nearly as important as the students we’re serving and the obvious demand for our programs and services,” said Hamilton.

One of the program areas that has grown significantly since the new Okanagan College opened its doors in 2005 is the university transfer arts program. Students can take the first two years of their undergraduate degree in arts or sciences at Okanagan College and then transfer to a university to complete their degree. They can also now choose to transfer to Okanagan College’s business administration degree program.

In 2005, there were 790 students taking the associate of arts degree program, which is offered at each of the four campuses. This year, there are 1,055 students registered in the program: an increase of 33.5 per cent over three years. As well, Okanagan College has introduced new arts diploma programs in Writing and Publishing, Media and Cultural Studies and Criminal and Social Justice: 87 students are registered in those three programs this year.

September’s enrolment growth was largest at the Kelowna campus. Student numbers there grew by 179 – or about five per cent over last year. Penticton grew by about 1.5 per cent to 475 students, while Salmon Arm grew by 2.4 per cent to 339 students. Vernon’s student headcount remained steady compared to last year, with 646 students, but the number of course registrations grew by almost 12 per cent.

The breakdowns for campuses and course registrations are below (2007 figures are indicated in brackets):






339 (331)

646 (646)

3677 (3498)

475 (468)


1255 (1370)

3120 (2982)

14954 ((14669)

1780 (1599)

There are 92 students enrolled in distance education, taking a total of 584 courses.

The numbers cited above include 468 international students, which is an increase of more than 24 per cent above last September’s enrolment of 376.

Gary Geddes arrives as 2008 Mackie Lake House, Okanagan College Writer-in-Residence

Okanagan College Media Release

geddesOne of Canada’s most renowned writers, Gary Geddes, will take up residency in The Mackie House as the 2008 Writer-in-Residence this September.

Geddes will give a public reading of some of his work on Monday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Room D212 at the Kalamalka Campus of Okanagan College. The reading will serve to introduce Geddes to the community as he assumes his role as Writer-in-Residence. The reading is free of charge and members of the community are invited to attend.

As Writer-In-Residence at The Mackie House, Geddes will join the esteemed company of the first six writers who began this tradition with Okanagan College and The Mackie House: Ron Ayling, Dennis Cooley, David Pitt-Brooke and Christine McPhee, Robert Kroetsch and Dawne McCance. Kalamalka Press has published each of these writers and their books can be ordered online by going to www.kalwriters.com.

Geddes’ writing career has spanned four decades of work and, aside from editing two of the most popular poetry anthologies in the country – “20th Century Poetry & Poetics” and “15 Canadian Poets X 3” -- Geddes has written a powerful and significant body of original work including these books: “Letter Of The Master Of Horse,” “War And Other Measures,” “The Acid Test,” “The Terracotta Army,” “No Easy Exit,” “Sailing Home: A Journey Through Time, Place & Memory,” “The Kingdom Of Ten Thousand Things: An Impossible Journey From Kabul to Chiapas,” and, most recently, “Falseworks,” a book of poems about the collapse of the Second Narrows bridge in 1958, which was short-listed for The George Ryga Award and contributed to Geddes being awarded the 2008 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

“George Woodcock once described Geddes as Canada’s best political poet,” said John Lent, Regional Dean of Okanagan College, “and I think that in his own quiet way, alongside the work of Tom Wayman and Milton Acorn, that’s a very accurate statement still.”

Lent went on to say that having Geddes here as Writer-in-Residence will be exciting for writers in Vernon and Kelowna, and especially for students enrolled in Okanagan College’s new two-year Diploma In Writing & Publishing, offered in Vernon at the Kalamalka Campus of Okanagan College.

Take the memorable pictures you’ve dreamed of

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s department of Continuing Studies is offering the opportunity to learn digital photography from nationally recognized writer and photographer, Bruce Kemp. Kemp will teach the fundamentals of digital photography as he explores all of the factors that make a pleasing picture. This course is geared toward both DSLR and point-and-shoot camera users.

The boot camp format starts out by teaching participants how to make the camera work for the photographer. Participants will discover how to take command of the camera by learning what the menu can do with speed, file types and sizes, program modes, light and color.

On Saturday get out of the classroom and discover how to use your digital camera in the field on assignment through Kelowna’s Cultural District and the Mission Creek Greenway. On Sunday, under Bruce’s guidance, participants will be given valuable feedback on their work and areas where improvement or corrections can be made.

“The best way to learn how to use a digital camera is by going out and practicing under the eye of someone who can act as a mentor and can answer questions as they pop up,” explained Kemp.

This new course runs in Kelowna on Friday, Sept. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information or to register for Digital Boot Camp or any other course, drop by the Continuing Studies Kelowna office at 1000 KLO Road, call 862-5480, or register online at www.okanagan.bc.ca/csreg.

Add some interest to your fall garden

Okanagan College Media Release - Sept. 3, 2008

Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies is offering three new gardening courses to help you enhance your garden’s appearance. If you want to add some exceptional fall colour to your garden, look no further than these three new courses.

Grazyna Manturzyk, a master in horticultural therapy, will be at Okanagan College on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., to teach Flowering Bulbs in the Garden. This short course teaches participants how to achieve a bulb paradise and introduces a myriad of colorful and exotic bulbs.

Later that afternoon, from 1 to 3 p.m., Grazyna will provide instruction on how to design and plant new varieties of fall and spring flowers in, Perennials with Pizzaz.

On Wednesday, Sept. 10 from 7 – 10 p.m., find out what makes orchids unique and successful in Introduction to Orchids and their Culture. Okanagan College’s Gary Schwartz will introduce the orchid family, some species that grow naturally in the wild and those that are commonly found around Kelowna.

For more information or to register for these gardening workshops, or any other course, drop by the Continuing Studies Kelowna office at 1000 KLO Road, call 250.862-5480, or register online at www.okanagan.bc.ca/csreg.

Phone Difficulties August 12, 2008 - Kelowna
9 a.m., Aug. 12, 2008: Telephone equipment issues at our Kelowna campus mean callers hoping to reach the campus will only get a busy signal at this point. We hope to have the problem fixed within hours, but in the interim, those who need to reach Okanagan College can call either our Penticton (250.492.4305), Vernon (250.545.7291) or Salmon Arm switchboards (250.832.2126) and staff there will assist. If you know the name individual you are trying to reach, you can also attempt to connect via e-mail. Our online staff directory can provide e-mail addresses.
Thanks for your patience.
College offers housing link to connect students and landlords

Okanagan College media release - July 15, 2008

Okanagan College is encouraging landlords and anyone with accommodation for rent in the South Okanagan to turn to a new link on their website in an effort to make it easier for students to find suitable housing this fall.

The College has added a link on its website that will allow landlords to post their available accommodation to the network of students who frequent the College’s website. Also new to the site are links to local housing boards including BC Classified.

"With the rental market continuing to be tight in the South Okanagan we are looking for ways to make it easier for students to connect with landlords," explained Donna Lomas, Regional Dean of Okanagan College. "We have a growing number of unique programs that are only offered at our campus and that tends to draw students from out of town. Those students need to find appropriate accommodation so we are trying to make the housing search a little bit easier for our students.

"We definitely feel the housing crunch in the late summer and early fall with the start of many new programs," said Lomas. "However, landlords should be aware that we have a variety of different start dates throughout the year, including August 11, when a number of our trades programs begin. We also have an increase in the number of international students attending the College who are looking for accommodation."

Noting that the College does not inspect the sites, Lomas went on to mention that the housing listed on the site is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis and is not Okanagan College sanctioned housing.

Anyone with a suite, room, apartment or motel room/rate available for rent can visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/regions/South_Okanagan_Similkameen_Region.html  and follow the link to Student Housing or contact the Penticton campus at 250-492-4305.

College-bound graduates receive support from Thorpe & Friends scholarship
Okanagan College Media Release

Two Okanagan students will have an easier time financing their college education this fall after being selected as recipients of the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship. 

Mount Boucherie Secondary graduate Matthew Swank accepted a cheque from Thorpe, Okanagan-Westside MLA, for $2,500 that will be used to pay for the costs of attending the Okanagan School of Business in Kelowna this September.

Swank plans on pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the College, his first choice for business school.

“I wanted to go to college that was close to home and I have heard really good things about Okanagan College,” said Swank. “I’ve known that I wanted to study business since I was six years old.”

David Addison was the second recipient of the $2,500 scholarship funded by the Thorpe’s, he graduated from Princess Margaret Secondary this spring and will pursue as Associate Degree of Science at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus this fall. Addison’s long-term plans include completing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering.

"Rick and I are pleased to be able to assist our young students in pursuing their dreams and studies here in the Okanagan," said Yasmin John-Thorpe.

The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe & Friends Scholarship Fund 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.

Recipients are selected based on a combination of financial need, academic standing, leadership potential and demonstration of contribution to their community.

College students generate nearly $20,000 for earthquake relief
Okanagan College Media Release

Less than one month after a group of international and domestic students from Okanagan College joined forces to raise funds for victims of the May 12 earthquake that rocked China’s Sichuan Province the students met with the Canadian Red Cross to deliver a cheque for $10,000.

A pledge by the federal government to match funds raised by individuals up until June 23 will result in nearly $20,000 being delivered to the relief effort due to the College students’ campaign. 

The group of students approached the Red Cross after their initial two weeks of fundraising yielded better than expected results. Setting up donation boxes with information about the earthquake relief at busy areas around Kelowna including the Kelowna Farmer’s Market and Costco, the students were surprised by the reception they received from the public.

Zhen Zhou is one of the College students that led the campaign. The fourth-year business student was shocked by the kindness demonstrated by individuals and some local businesses. She was a part of the group that tallied the funds raised for the Canadian Red Cross.

“We had no idea how much money we had raised until we saw how much cash came out of our donation boxes,” explained Zhou. “It was powerful to see the cash and cheques people donated. It really shows how a little bit of love from everyone can result in a huge amount.”

The largest donation received by the group was from the Mad Mango Café. The popular downtown Kelowna eatery gave the students $500. The Dragon King restaurant nearly matched that amount.

Okanagan College students aren’t the only group raising money for the earthquake relief campaign, explained the Canadian Red Cross’ Michelle Wesley, but they are the group that has raised the most so far.

“The Okanagan College students have done an exceptional job and we were so pleased to be able to partner with them to ensure their funds go directly to the relief effort,” said Wesley. “We are proud of these students and commend them on their initiative.”

Civil Engineering Technology Grad plays key role in trestle restoration
Kevin Witzke’s path to the job of leader for the design of the redeveloped Myra Canyon trestles is one that has taken him from the classrooms of Okanagan College more than a quarter century ago, around the world as a Civil Engineering Technology graduate and finally to an undertaking that combined his education, experience, and his love of railways and history.

 KEvin Witzke 1
 KEVIN WITZKE - Class of '81
For the past four years, Witzke has been overseeing the design and rebuild of the historic trestles on the former Kettle Valley Railway, in his role with Earth Tech Canada Ltd.’s Kelowna office. They were destroyed in the catastrophic 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire, which consumed 239 homes and burned about 250 square kilometers of forest.

For Witzke, the concept of being involved in the reconstruction of those trestles was a temptation to great to resist.
After graduating from Civil Engineering Technology at Okanagan College in 1981, he had gone to work for the City of Revelstoke for three years. Then he joined CP Rail where he worked for three years with the department responsible for structures, such as trestles and bridges.

“I’ve always liked the railway,” says Witzke, who says his love of building things led him to enroll in the College’s engineering technologies department. In 1987 he moved to Kelowna and joined Reid Crowther, eventually becoming a partner in the firm. Reid Crowther became part of Earth Tech in 2000. In the past 21 years with the firm, Witzke’s job has taken him to China, Bangkok, Norway and Australia, as well as various parts of North America on project work.

On his office wall, there’s a photo of Witzke atop an elephant on his way to a jobsite in the far east.
“There have been no roadblocks along the way,” says Witzke, crediting the college’s credential with creating opportunities for a rich and rewarding career. “After I graduated high school in 1978 I went to UVic to take astronomy, but I came to the conclusion that it was a hobby, not a career for me. As a kid, I’d always liked to build things. When it rained, we’d build dams in ditches. So I decided to turn that interest into a career.”

The two-year Civil Engineering Technology diploma was the result, although when he enrolled it was into the Civil and Construction Technology program – the name changed part way through the program. (The college now offers five engineering technology programs: civil, network and telecommunications; electronic, mechanical as well as water quality and environmental.)
“Four or five people who graduated from the College’s civil program now work in our office,” says Witzke. And over the years, he has had the chance to work with several former instructors either as colleagues in the firm or as consultants.

This weekend, as the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society celebrates the grand re-opening of the historic portion of the KVR, Witzke will be on hand, recalling the challenges and successes of the past four years as contractors, colleagues and volunteers worked from both ends of the canyon to reconstruct an engineering marvel.

Beside seeing the trestles reborn, Witzke has also taken a great deal of pleasure in working with historian Maury Williams and anthropologist Richard Garvin and their students as they’ve researched the trestles and canyon.

“I’m a bit of a history buff and I like the railway, so they came together perfectly. We’re really privileged to have this opportunity.”

Myra Canyon Trestle invitation - June 22
The Myra Canyon Reconstruction Project Committee has announced that Sunday June 22, 2008 will mark the official re-opening of Myra Canyon and its 18 famed railway trestles and two tunnels with a special day long community celebration as part of the BC150 Years anniversary. The re-opening is of special interest staff at Okanagan College as three of our business students – Jillian Vieira, Daryl Dunstan and Byron Johnson, are managing the event marketing plan and execution of the event under the direction of Blair Baldwin, Professor in the School of Business. Their work started last September and has been an eight-month experience which has helped them apply many of their skills acquired while obtaining their degree. (Read our press release!)
There's another connection between Okanagan College and the Myra Canyon Trestles- Kevin Witzke, a Civil Engineering Technology grad from 1981, has been intimately involved with the project from (sorry for the pun!) the ground up. (Read our release below.)
You can get the details on the event itself at the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society website

BBA Grads take lead role in Trestle Celebration

At the heart of the community celebration on Sunday, June 22 to mark the reopening of the historic Myra Canyon trestles are three Okanagan College Business Administration graduates, whose involvement with the logistical challenge began as part of a course they were taking  on their way to their degrees.
Jillian Vieira, Byron Johnson and Daryl Dunstan all graduated on June 7 with Bachelor of Business Administration degrees from Okanagan College. Their credentials and education are  getting a real-world workout through their paid participation in the planning and execution of the official party on June 22.
The trio are working on the event marketing plan and the event itself under the direction of Blair Baldwin, a professor in the Okanagan College School of Business.
“Their work started last September and has been an eight-month experience which has helped them apply many of the skills they acquired while obtaining their degrees,” says Baldwin, who has been a dedicated volunteer in the Myra Canyon Trestle Restoration Society. The project started as part of their work in a sports and event marketing course, but when that wrapped up in December, 2007, the trio were hired by the society to carry forward the plan they had developed and recommended.
“It’s clear that it was the quality of the course project that resulted in them being hired,” says Baldwin.
“It’s been a great experience,” explains Vieira. “The best thing about the College’s Business Administration degree is it has been hands-on with a lot of practical and project experience. We’ve been able to put much of what we’ve learned to work on this initiative.”
Four years of work has gone into recreating the 18 trestles and the two tunnels that form the Myra Canyon portion of the old Kettle Valley Railway. The trestles and surrounding forest were ravaged by the Okanagan Mountain Park fire of 2003, which also destroyed 239 homes in Kelowna.
Myra Canyon is the jewel of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail – part of the Trans Canada Trail and also a key to the provincial Spirit of 2010 Trail network created by the Province of BC as a tool for community economic development and to promote adventure tourism for non-motorized users. It is also part of the Myra Bellevue Provincial Park managed by BC Parks. It spans a distance of roughly nine kilometers. The restoration of Myra Canyon was funded by 90 per cent through Canada’s Disaster Financial Assistance program and 10 per cent by the Province of B.C.
Full details for the community celebration can be found at www.myratrestles.com
“For all who were here for the fires in 2003, it has been an incredible journey that all associated with the reconstruction have traveled,” says Baldwin. “From the task of raising awareness and securing funding to the completion of the full reconstruction and restoration within five years of the fires that destroyed Myra Canyon, Sunday will mark a historic event for the Okanagan and I would encourage everyone to attend.”
Full details for the community celebration can be found at www.myratrestles.com

Graduation ceremonies celebrate student success
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College will acknowledge the accomplishments of more than 1,250 graduates at a series of Convocation and Commencement ceremonies this weekend.

The College will confer 457 degree and diploma credentials to students from a variety of programs during two Convocation ceremonies held on Saturday. A separate Commencement ceremony honouring the achievements of more than 800 Trades students will take place on Friday.

This weekend’s graduates are just some of the 1,337 Okanagan College students who have earned a credential so far during the 2007/08 academic year. Sixty-three Practical Nurses received credentials at previously held ceremonies; another 17 Practical Nurses will graduate at a ceremony in Vernon on June 16.

A Summer Convocation honouring diploma and certificate graduates from Health, Applied Business and Trades programs will confer more credentials on June 26, 2008.

“We are looking forward to celebrating the achievements of Okanagan College’s largest graduating class at ceremonies held this weekend,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We take a great deal of pride in the success of our students and are pleased to be able to share the experience with our students’ friends, families and supporters.”

The Trades Commencement begins Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. In the tradition of Commencement, students will be recognized for their accomplishments, top students in a variety of programs will receive awards and two industry speakers will address the graduates. More than 120 students will attend Friday’s ceremony, just a portion of the 800 students who completed entry-level or apprenticeship credentials over the course of the past year.

A morning Convocation ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m. for 141 degree and diploma graduates from a range of programs. An afternoon ceremony honouring 316 Business degree and diploma graduates will begin at 2 p.m.

Four Honorary Fellows will also be recognized at Saturday’s Convocation ceremonies. Brothers Syd, Dick and Rob Cannings will be honoured at the morning session while Jeannette Armstrong will receive the distinction during the afternoon ceremony. A third Honorary Fellow, Ken Harding, will be recognized at the Summer Convocation ceremony on June 26 at 7 p.m.

College grads recognize the power of the associate degree
Okanagan College Media Release

Kristin Burns will be one of 43 Okanagan College students graduating this weekend with an Associate Degree of Arts, the largest number of graduates to have the associate degree conferred in Okanagan College’s four-decade history.

Burns is an example of the growing awareness of the value of the associate degree, a credential that is offered at colleges across the province.

“We are seeing a shift in the number of students acquiring Associate Degree of Arts credentials and I think that is because people are beginning to be aware of the power of the associate degree,” explained Stan Chung, Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational programs.

“Arts students typically choose Okanagan College because of the size of the classes and the personal attention they receive from professors but now more and more students are also interested in having their college experience amount to a recognized credential.”

Associate degrees are unique in that they provide students with what is known as block transfer to university. Students receive full transfer credit for all 60 credits of their associate degree once they are accepted at a university.

For Burns, Saturday’s Convocation will mark the first step of what she hopes will be a long educational journey. She has been accepted for the fall semester at UBC-Okanagan and plans on earning a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English.

“My ultimate goal is to earn a doctorate and teach at the college or university level,” said Burns. “I had some incredible teachers at Okanagan College who really inspired me. John Lent was amazing and helped propel me toward creative writing.”

Mira Culen had a similar experience to Burns – she came to Okanagan College from Nelson and knew she wanted to study Arts but wanted to be able to take a variety of courses.  The Associate Degree of Arts program enabled her to get a taste of several disciplines before ultimately settling on English as her emphasis.

“I always knew I wanted to go into teaching but that was confirmed for me at the College,” said Culen. “My professors were amazing. Mary Ellen Holland inspired me to take my English further, Alix Hawley offered so much to each of my classes and Wilma van der Veen opened my eyes to the world and made me want to make a difference.”

Now home in Nelson for the summer, Culen plans on taking a year off before pursuing a Bachelor degree at either the University of Victoria or Simon Fraser University.

College apprentice earns gold at national Skills competition
Okanagan College Media Release

 Tyler Selzler & Jeff Francis
After winning a gold in the provincial Skills BC Competition, 23-year-old Okanagan College apprentice Tyler Selzler’s winning streak continued at the national Skills Canada Competition with another gold medal performance. Selzler won top honours in the Autobody Repair Competition, which took place in Calgary from May 25-28.

Selzler’s instructor, Jeff Francis, helped prepare him for the competition and traveled to Calgary to support and mentor him through the event.

"Tyler represented himself, his province and Okanagan College in an impressive display of speed and accuracy completing all of the timed tasks assigned in the competition,” said Francis. “He was the only competitor from all of the provinces and territories to do so. This young apprentice is a perfect example for any young person coming into this trade, he has an extremely bright future ahead of him."

Throughout the competition Selzler was given four tasks over two days. The biggest challenge was repairing the inner door shell and outer door skin of a vehicle without using filler. Selzler used a pick-and-filing approach, a repair technique that has become somewhat of a lost art due to new technology.

On day-two Selzler sectioned a rocker panel on a Honda Accord, conducted a one-hour frame analysis and completed a plastic repair on a bumper. 

While working at each task a panel of judges examined Selzler’s work throughout each stage. Francis served as support for Selzler but was unable to give him any advice during the competition. In fact, Selzler and Francis were not even allowed to speak during the lunch break to ensure Selzler’s work was all his own.

“They were very strict about that,” said Selzler. “It wouldn’t make that much difference anyway because the competition is more about skill than anything. Even if people were coached, they would still have to do the work themselves and that is the tough part. But just having Jeff there was great. His presence helped me out a lot.”
Selzler completed all three levels of his Automotive Collision Repair training at Okanagan College and now works at Springfield Autobody in Kelowna. For Selzler, repairing cars is not only a way of making a good living, it is also his passion – a passion he shares with his girlfriend who is also an Okanagan College apprentice.

Selzler admits to spending almost every hour of every day working on cars -- something that would prove to be a challenge for most relationships but luckily for Selzler, his girlfriend Jennifer Kennedy works at the same shop.

“Springfield Autobody is pretty big and she works on the paint side in automotive prep but we see each other at coffee breaks,” said Selzler.

The gold medal winners from Skills Canada qualify for the World Skills Championship but at age 23, Selzler will not make the age requirement, which cuts off above 22. Although a world title may not be in his future, Selzler looks forward to gaining more experience in his trade before one day opening up his own shop with Kennedy.

Okanagan College’s chair of the Collision Repair department, Chris Burns, said Selzler has been a model student through his apprenticeship training and is someone the entire department is very proud of. Burns also credited Francis for his efforts in training Okanagan College students to be some of the best in the province and across the country.

Since it began competing at the Collision Repair challenges at Skills competitions in 2000 Okanagan College has won 11 provincial medals (eight gold, two silver and one bronze) and six national medals (five gold and a silver).

“This is unprecedented in the Canadian Collision Repair competition and a record that we are very proud of,” said Burns.

Okanagan College’s Cailan Libby also competed at the national Skills Canada competition. He qualified for the Electrical Wiring competition after winning a gold at Skills BC in April. Although Libby did not finish in the top three in the country, he was presented with a workmanship award for his success at the competition.  

College students reach out to earthquake victims
Okanagan College Media Release

earthquake2The aftermath of the May 12 earthquake that rocked China’s southwestern Sichuan province left Okanagan College students feeling helpless. The quake, which registered an 8 on the Richter scale, has quickly become one of the worst national disasters to affect China in decades.

Last weekend a group of domestic and international students from Okanagan College came together to show their support for the victims and launched an impromptu fundraising campaign.

The group came up with the slogan ‘one world one family’ after feeling a deep sense of connection to the victims of the quake, despite living on the other side of the globe.

One of the leaders of the fundraising campaign, Yukai (Nick) Xu, came to the College in January 2008 to study English as a Second Language.

“We have been hearing lots of news about the victims of the earthquake and I wanted to do something for my country,” said Xu. “I am here in Canada at Okanagan College but I am Chinese and I wanted to do something within my power.”

The group of concerned Okanagan College students were joined by a few Chinese students from UBC Okanagan and with support from the College’s International Education department, set up information tables and donation boxes at Costco and the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market last Saturday.

Okanagan College Business student Zhen Zhou has been a driving force behind the campaign. Originally from Shandong province, Zhou has been at Okanagan College for four years and felt compelled to contribute to victims of the quake.

“Our slogan is ‘one world one family’ because we believe our love can change everything,” said Zhou.

Zhou and her fellow students have been touched by the generosity of Canadians who have given to support the cause.

“On Saturday we were at the Kelowna Farmer’s Market and a 70-year-old woman donated $50 to our fund,” said Zhou. “She told us that the money was from her pension but it was really from her heart. We were very moved by her action.”

The fundraising effort began last weekend and will carry on through the week at this weekend’s Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Zhou and her fellow College students don’t know how much money they have raised but all of the proceeds will be delivered to the Red Cross’ earthquake relief effort.

Applicants sought for College’s Board of Governors
Okanagan College Media Release

Interest is being sought from individuals who may want to serve on the Okanagan College Board of Governors.  There are two anticipated vacancies that will open in June 2008. 

The Board oversees the affairs of the College, sets the standards of organizational conduct and supervises the President, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the institution, which has an $80-million budget, approximately 900 employees and the equivalent of about 7,100 full-time students. 

While the institution and the B.C. Government (which appoints individuals to the Board) are seeking expertise in several specific areas, candidates from all backgrounds and from all communities served by the College are encouraged to apply. 

The appointments are generally for a one-year term and may be followed by subsequent two-year appointments. Knowledge of a learning environment as well as First Nations communities would be an asset. The candidates will be expected to serve on the Human Resource or Governance Committee, which assists the Board in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities.

The closing deadline for applications is June 12, 2008.  To find out more, or to find out how to apply for consideration, please visit the British Columbia government’s Board Resourcing website: http://www.lcs.gov.bc.ca/BRDO/apply.asp.

Interested individuals can also call the Board of Governors office at 1-250-762-5445, ext. 4712 for more information.  Applicants interested in finding out more about Okanagan College can visit: http://www.okanagan.bc.ca/about/Board_of_Governors.html.

College students good at communicating they're the best
Okanagan College Media Release - May 6, 2008

businessCommunication is a critical skill in business and Okanagan School of Business students are demonstrating they are among the best.

For the fourth time in the last five years, a team of Okanagan College business students has departed the prestigious international business strategy competition in San Diego with the award for Best Reports.

The Okanagan College team of Janta Quigley [CEO], Sarah Duthie [VP Human Resources], Trevor McAleese [VP Operations], and Danny Robert [VP Finance] were participating in the 45th Annual Inter-Collegiate Strategy Competition, hosted by the University of San Diego. The team was managing a simulated LED light manufacturing firm, Cassiopeia Lighting Solutions.

Okanagan College business students started competing in this international competition for undergraduate and graduate business students in 2004, and each year they have brought home an award for their performance in writing their Strategic Plan and Annual Report. This year they beat competitors from major US and international university schools of business in the category.

Their reporting efforts not only earned them the prize, it also earned the attention and praise of Pamela Stambaugh, one of the judges. Stambaugh (the owner of Accountability Pays and a Chair at Vistage, which describes itself as The World’s Leading Chief Executive Organization) asked for copies of the students’ reports so she could show her corporate clients examples of what their own reports should be like.

“We had an outstanding team that worked hard over the 5-6 months of their preparation and competition,” said Okanagan College Professor Norm Letnick, who coached the team. While the January-March stage of the competition is on-line each week, the real test comes with the team submitting their reports to the judges and then defending their strategic decisions in those reports during the three day intensive stage down in San Diego.

“Communications was a key part of the students’ preparation for this competition,” explained Letnick. “It reflects the importance of that critical skill in running and sustaining a successful business.”

“This went beyond just learning business for us, as it directly related to life,” said Quigley. “It has tremendous future applications.”

Quigley and Duthie are among 203 Okanagan College students who will graduate with their Bachelor of Business Administration degree this year. Quigley is planning to go on to post-graduate education at the University of London (Queen Mary College) to become a lawyer, while Duthie is going to a human resources job.

Robert and McAleese will complete their BBA next year before pursuing their careers. Finding work after finishing their degrees isn’t likely to be difficult - each of the team members was approached with job offers from companies present at the competition.

That’s something that has happened every year that students from Okanagan College have participated, said Letnick.

September Residential Construction program will see College students build new child care centre on campus
Okanagan College Media Release - May 7, 2008

For the first time in it’s more than 40-year history, trades students at Okanagan College will play a prominent role in shaping the Kelowna campus as it grows to reflect the changing needs of students.

The College is currently accepting applications to fill 16 spaces in the Residential Construction program, which will see students gain practical experience as they build the new 3,000 square-foot child care centre, recently announced by the Honourable Minister of State for Child Care, Linda Reid.

The program will begin during the first week of September and will start off with classroom training for students, who are not required to have any experience in the construction trades. After learning everything they need to know about job site safety, tool usage and building techniques, the class of pre-apprentices will step outside the doors of the campus shop and onto their job site.

“This is really an incredible opportunity for our own students to get involved with a project that will be a landmark on our campus,” said Nancy Ankerstein, program administrator for Residential Construction. “In past programs we have achieved great success having our students welcomed into the Village of Kettle Valley where they contributed to the development of that neighbourhood. However, having our students do their learning and develop their craft on our campus is really a unique opportunity and an ideal situation for students and the College.”

The Residential Construction program, often referred to as the Home for Learning, goes well beyond training students. Through the sale of the homes built by the students, and due to an incredible amount of community support through donations, the Okanagan College Foundation has received more than $300,000 to be distributed by way of bursaries to students who successfully complete the program.

Though the construction of the child care facility will not turn a profit for the College, students who take part in the program will still receive financial support as they complete the levels of their journeyperson apprentice training. Students who complete the Residential Construction program will also receive credit for level one of their carpentry pre-apprenticeship.

To find out more about the Residential Construction program, contact Nancy Ankerstein at 762-5445 ext. 4424 or nankerstein@okanagan.bc.ca.

2008 Honorary Fellows Named

Five prominent citizens
to be honoured at College’s Convocations

A prominent Okanagan Nation educator and writer, three brothers best known for their contributions to the appreciation of nature, and a well-known area businessman will be recognized as Honorary Fellows this June by Okanagan College.

Jeannette Armstrong, the Executive Director of Penticton’s internationally-renowned En’owkin Centre, will be made an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College at the June 7th afternoon Convocation at the Kelowna campus.

Brothers Syd, Dick and Rob Cannings – each of whom have had distinguished careers as biologists – will be recognized with the designation at the College’s morning Convocation on June 7.
Ken Harding, a retired partner in Whillis Harding Insurance Agencies and a prominent volunteer and community supporter in the Central Okanagan, will be honored at the June 26th Summer Convocation.

“These five individuals represent much of what is to be admired in the Okanagan’s best citizens and ambassadors,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Jeannette Armstrong has distinguished herself in her role with the En’owkin Centre, but she has also established an international reputation as an author and as an activist. Her focus on providing First Nations students a voice through writing and an appreciation of their culture and history has earned her the respect of her peers and her people.”

“The Cannings have followed in their father Steve’s footsteps to bring British Columbians and Canadians to a richer appreciation of the natural world, through their writings, professional activities and dedication,” Hamilton said. Rob is the Curator of Entomology at the Royal British Columbia Museum, while Syd is the program zoologist of NatureServe Yukon. Dick continues to reside in Naramata, where he is a well-known naturalist, conservationist, birder, writer and broadcaster. The Cannings have written numerous books, many of them collaborations with each other, including “Birds of the Okanagan Valley” and “British Columbia: a Natural History.”

 “Ken Harding is a perennial supporter and champion of good causes, a businessman who has made improving the region an avocation. His colleagues, his friends, and many community leaders know what an asset Ken has been to the Okanagan,” says Hamilton. In 2005, he was honoured with a Community Distinction Award by the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan. He has been President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Governor of the Kinsmen Clubs of British Columbia, a founding member of the Central Okanagan Bursary and Scholarship Society, a member of the Central Okanagan Foundation, and a member of the board of BCIT.

Harding, Armstrong, and the Cannings join a small group of Honourary Fellows of Okanagan College which includes Albert Baldeo, Mike Roberts, Lois Serwa, Ken Smedley, Ross Gorman, and Lorraine McGrath.

In face of budget issues, College continues to add programs
Okanagan College Media Release - April 30, 2008

Okanagan College will be offering more programs, especially in health and trades areas, to more students in the coming year, as part of an $80.47 million budget passed Tuesday by the College’s Board of Governors.

The program decisions come despite a budget shortfall of more than $900,000 created by recent changes to provincial funding for the College.

"This has been a difficult budget situation for us, but we are committed to providing the education and training opportunities that the region needs," explained Janet Shaw, Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. A surplus from the 2007-08 budget year makes the program expansion and a balanced budget for 2008-09 possible, she explained.

"That money has given us a one-time buffer and we are using it this year, knowing that it won’t be available next year and we will have much work in the months ahead to ensure we have a sustainable financial situation."

The budget decision means there will be growth in the College’s practical nursing programs in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna, as well as growth in the trades areas. A new Human Kinetics diploma program will start in Penticton in the fall as well. There is planned program growth in university transfer arts programs and in business administration as well.

In total, there will be space added for approximately 250 more full-time students this year in health, trades, and a variety of other program areas, noted Shaw.

On March 12 this year, as colleges across the province were finalizing budget preparations for 2008-09, the provincial government informed the sector of a 2.6 per cent across-the-board decrease in funding. It also announced a reallocation of planned seats for new program growth: Okanagan College’s allotment of ongoing new seats was diminished from the originally-planned 190 for 2008-09 to 152 seats, but was supplemented with a number of one-time seat allocations (98).

"In dealing with this last-minute change in the funding scenario, our first principles were to avoid any cuts to programs or services for students and to avoid layoffs of continuing employees," explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. "We also realized that we have an obligation to provide the extra program capacity for which the provincial government is funding us. Our ability to address those principles and expectations required some reductions in supplies and capital expenditures which will be difficult to sustain in the long term, as well as reductions in some support services, and postponing a number of initiatives that had been planned to improve the delivery of curriculum and to improve specific services for students."

"We will be spending the next months determining how we can address those principles and expectations in the years ahead and achieve our goal to continue developing a College that is sustainable and provides the first-rate education and training that the region has come to expect."

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For more information:
Allan Coyle
Director, Public Affairs
Okanagan College
(250) 862-5413



American Express and the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival partner to help Okanagan College students
Okanagan College Media Release - April 28, 2008

American Express, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society and Okanagan College are teaming up to create more opportunities for students in the wine, food and hospitality sector.

Through the month of May, including the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival (May 1 - 10, 2008), $3 from every American Express transaction at participating wineries will go toward helping students and supporting the wine, food and hospitality courses at the School of Business at Okanagan College.

The partnership arrangement was announced at a reception held at the College’s Kelowna campus today.

"We see this as a tremendous opportunity to let our Cardmembers and participating wineries help support the future of this region and the growing wine, restaurant and tourism industries in the Okanagan," says Tracey Szczur, Director of Merchant Services Marketing, American Express. "We have worked with the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society before on other projects but this marks a first time working to directly benefit students and programs at Okanagan College."

"We’re excited to see our member wineries choose to participate in this," says Gary Reynolds, President of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society and the owner of Lake Breeze Vineyards in Naramata. "We believe that the School of Business at Okanagan College will play a pivotal role in training future team members for all areas of our wineries. The ability to partner with American Express demonstrates that the society, its members, American Express and the College are investing in the future."

"There is growing interest in and support of the College’s hospitality and tourism programs, as well as its wine programs," notes Steve Tuck, President of the Okanagan College Foundation. "Partnerships and programs such as these help draw attention to those programs and – more importantly – help encourage those students who are charting careers in these areas."

In 2006, the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society created a new award program for students in the College’s advanced culinary arts diploma program.

About the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society:

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society now has 80 member wineries and over 45 tourism operators that work collaboratively to bring the world to Okanagan Wine Country. The society organizes four annual Okanagan Wine Festivals and pursues a high profile marketing strategy to attract wine tourists on a year round basis. The 10 day Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is the oldest of the four festivals and is consistently awarded the designation of "Top 100 Events in North America." Its success has led to the establishment of the 10-day Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, the iconic five-day Icewine Festival held in January at Sun Peaks Resort north of Kamloops, B.C. and the intimate two-day Okanagan Summer Wine Festival at Silver Star Mountain Resort near Vernon.

About American Express:

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Canada Inc. and Amex Bank of Canada. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Business Travel, Travel Services Network and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express Cards in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs more than 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast.

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For more information, contact:
Jolene Price
Public Affairs & Communications, American Express

Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

Kathy Butler
Okanagan College Foundation

Government and SASCU kickstart Trades campaign

Government purchase and SASCU donation

strengthen trades training in the Shuswap

Okanagan College and the Province of British Columbia are strengthening their commitment to trades training in the Shuswap.

On Friday, the Hon. George Abbott, Minister of Health and MLA for Shuswap, announced $684,712 funding for purchase of the trades training facility that Okanagan College has been leasing in Salmon Arm’s industrial park. Abbott made the announcement on behalf of his Cabinet colleague, the Hon. Murray Coell, Minister of Advanced Education.

"Student and employer demand and support for trades training in this region has been phenomenal," Abbott noted. "Okanagan College should be applauded for its hard work and the tremendous job the college has done around creating access to programs such as welding, carpentry, plumbing and electrical."

"The Ministry of Advanced Education and the Province recognize that trades training is crucial to the provincial economy. The purchase of this building will allow the college to provide excellent trades training and help meet employer and industry demand for skilled labour."

The facility is 659 square meters and houses two classrooms and three shops.

"We’re grateful to the government for the support and funding," said Janet Shaw, Chair of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors. "We made a decision three years ago to distribute trades training opportunities throughout the College region and the response has been heartening. In the last year we trained more than 2,700 apprentices at Okanagan College in a variety of trades. That is almost triple what it was three years ago and we will it see it increase further in the years ahead."

The provincial funding announcement was accompanied by news that Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union will be contributing $50,000 to a capital fund-raising campaign being organized by the Okanagan College Foundation that will further support trades training in Salmon Arm.

"Education and training are among the best investments we can make in our community on behalf of our 21,000 members," noted Michael Wagner, the CEO of Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union. "We’re pleased to be able to provide this support to the Okanagan College Foundation for trades training in Salmon Arm. We know that the community and industry support what the College and the Foundation are doing and we want government, students and employers to realize what a partnership this enterprise is."

"With these encouraging announcements today, we are hoping it will prompt others in this region to demonstrate their support," explained Steve Tuck, President of the Okanagan College Foundation. "This really signals the public launch of a $600,000 fundraising campaign that will support further development of trades training here in the Shuswap."

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For more information, contact:

Lynda Wilson (250) 832-2126, ext 8239

Kathy Butler (250) 762-5445, ext. 4775

Louise Delaney, SASCU, Manager, Marketing (250) 833-1343

Help shape Okanagan College’s Lifetime Learning Series

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies department is looking to the community for feedback into areas of interest for programs that will make up the new Lifetime Learning Series at Okanagan College.

Volunteers in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm are needed to participate in the development of this series, which will offer a wide variety of programming for anyone with a passion for learning.

“We are developing a series of courses for people who are looking for intellectual stimulation and have a passion for learning,” said Joanne Thomsen, Manager of Continuing Studies.”

Some of the proposed areas of study include: fine arts, cinema, drama, history, literature, philosophy, religion, culture, law, politics, economics, current events, medicine, psychology, health and science.

“We are nearing completion on the planning phase for the Lifetime Learning Series at Okanagan College and are interested in hearing from the community as to what they are interested in seeing offered,” said Thomsen. “We have developed an extensive and diverse range of areas of interest and are scheduling focus groups to gain public input before we finalize our courses.”

Volunteers for the focus group should be interested in providing feedback on specific offerings and areas of study. 

The goal of the Lifetime Learning Series is to develop a dynamic selection of classes and distinguished teachers who will contribute to a relaxed, informal environment without homework or grades. The only prerequisite is a passion for learning.

The Lifetime Learning Series class moderators will be distinguished professors, both active and retired. Other teachers are experts in a variety of fields.  There is one common denominator: they teach for the sheer love of teaching and to share their passion.

The focus groups will take place from 6 - 8 p.m. on the following dates:

Kelowna - April 10 & 22 at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College
Vernon - April 8 & 22 at the Kalamalka campus of Okanagan College
Salmon Arm - April 7 & 23 at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College
Penticton - April 9 & 21 at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College

Pre-registration is required. To reserve a spot in the focus group or for more information, contact Continuing Studies at:

Kelowna - 862-5480
Vernon -503-2650
Salmon Arm -804-8888
Penticton -492-4305

John Ralston Saul in Penticton

John Ralston Saul featured
in 2008 Penticton Ideas Festival

John Ralston Saul, one of the world’s leading thinkers and visionaries, will be in Penticton May 25 to offer his insights into Canada’s global future and its military and economic role in world affairs.
Saul, whom TIME Magazine has called a “prophet”, will be featured in the 2008 Penticton Ideas Festival Speaker Series. The award-winning author will be interviewed on stage at the Penticton High School Auditorium, at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 25. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students or can be purchased at the door for $15. The tickets are available at the Tumbleweed Gallery and Okanagan College’s Duncan Avenue Campus in Penticton.
The event has been organized by Brian Hughes, the founder of the Penticton Philosopher’s Café, and an Okanagan College Board member. Proceeds from the May 25th event go toward bringing future speakers to Penticton and to the Locatee Lands Project.
Another event on May 26, which benefits the Okanagan College Foundation, will provide a limited number of people an opportunity to enjoy dinner with Saul at The Front Street Bar & Bistro on Monday, May 26. Tickets are $200 and available through the Okanagan College Foundation or the Penticton Campus.  Only 50 tickets are available. The Foundation supports student learning by developing scholarships and bursaries and by raising funds for programs and capital projects at the College.
“Saul is a philosopher, a novelist, an economist, a pre-eminent Canadian and someone whose views and insights carry weight around the globe,” says Hughes. “As I envisioned the development of the  Ideas Festival Speakers Series, I could think of no one more appropriate than him to be at the heart of the event.”
“Saul is known for his love and promotion of Okanagan wines, so he knows the area well.”
For more information about the event, you can contact Okanagan College (250) 492-4305 or the Okanagan College Foundation 1-888-650-696 or visit okanagancollegefoundation.ca

A complete biography of John Ralston Saul is available at his website

Home For Learning - Partnership with SD23
 School District 23 - Media Information
March 7, 2008

Ground-breaking Event to Celebrate New Home Construction

Kelowna, BC:  Due to the success of the first home-building project through the Residential Construction program at Rutland Senior Secondary, 12 students, including one female student, will have an opportunity to learn valuable job skills again this year.  The ground-breaking ceremony will take place on March 10 at 9:30 am at 160 Hardie Road.  Joining the celebration will be Principal Rick Oliver, instructor Bob Boback and his students as well as key representatives from School District No. 23 and Okanagan College. 

The Residential Construction program is a joint undertaking by Okanagan College and School District No. 23.  This career training program allows students to complete their Grade 12 diploma as they gain marketable skills and level 1 technical credit towards their apprenticeship.  Students take regular high school courses from September to January and then begin the construction project.  Students receive instruction from January to March with Bob Boback, a RSS teacher and Red Seal Carpenter with extensive construction experience.  On-site work takes place from March to July.  Once the project is complete, students have the opportunity to attain the last three levels of technical certification at Okanagan College.  This college training is supported by School District No. 23 through scholarships and bursaries.

“The dual-credit Residential Construction program is something we are very proud to be able to offer our students,” says Moyra Baxter, Chairperson of the Board of Education. “It is a wonderful chance for them to explore career interests and gain practical job skills.”

"Through innovative programs such as the Home for Learning and with a strong partnership between Okanagan College and School District 23, we are able to provide a diverse range of programming to address the changing needs of our students," said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. "The College is a proud supporter of Rutland Senior Secondary's residential construction program and we are pleased to be able to offer first year training credit from our institution to the participating high school apprentices."

Eric Dack, a Grade 12 student and a participant in the first construction project in 2007 was very happy with the experience: “It was amazing that we could build a house in school.  I will do my second year and carry on to get my apprenticeship in carpentry.”

“I thought it was really good, as I got to do hands-on and actually build a house,” says Charlotte MacBeth, another former participant and a Grade 12 student. “I might take carpentry at Okanagan College”

The property for this year’s project was purchased in December 2007 and architectural plans were recently finalized.  The two-storey, 2400-square foot home will have four bedrooms and three bathrooms.  Program organizers gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of community businesses that contribute materials and expertise.

Business Students best in BC

Okanagan College captures title of best team
at BC Business Simulation competition


Four Okanagan School of Business students earned the prestigious title of Top Team at the 2008 BC Business Simulation Competition, defending the school’s 2007 title and winning first place in three of the four top awards.

The competition took place at Capilano College from March 6-8 and included nine teams. Okanagan College’s team was comprised of John Nesbitt (Vernon), Richard Qu (International), and Brianna Tofin and Scott Stevens (Kelowna).

The group was coached by professor Norm Letnick and certainly benefited from the legacy of achievement Okanagan School of Business competition teams have become known for.

“I am very proud of these four students,” said Letnick. “They put in an incredible amount of effort, showed a great deal of dedication and had excellent results. They are an example for all of our students.”

CEO of the group Brianna Tofin explained that the group was dedicated to defending Okanagan College’s title and prepared thoroughly for the challenge.

“Our team spent an incredible amount of time preparing for this competition,” said Tofin. “We have been meeting every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. since January. In the weeks leading up to the competition we stepped up our schedule and met nearly every day.”

The practice certainly paid off for the group who won a total of five major awards: Top Team, Top Strategic Plan, Top Use of Accounting Data in Strategic Planning, Top VP Operations (Scott Stevens) and Silver CEO (Brianna Tofin).

Vice President of Marketing Richard Qu felt well prepared for the competition due to the team’s commitment to practice and the guidance and support from coach Letnick.

“Norm gave us a lot of advice and prepared us very well for the competition,” said Qu. “Even so, the competition was much harder than we expected. The case analyses were complex and time consuming and we were given very little time for strategic planning.”

For Tofin, the hours committed to the competition were well worth it.

“I learned a lot throughout this process,” said Tofin. “It is exciting to apply your learning and put to use everything you study in the classroom. It is also refreshing to work with students who have the same work ethic and operate at the same caliber.

She added that the competition is also a great networking opportunity. Tofin was approached by one of the judges and offered a job during the competition.

“I don’t know what is going to come of it but it was very flattering and goes to show how important these competitions are.”


Benefit for Kalamalka Press

Well-known Canadian folk artist and rising star
perform benefit for Kal Press

Winnipeg singer-songwriter Ben Sures will give a benefit concert on Thursday, March 20th, at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka Campus Lecture Theatre at 7:30pm.  Rising star, new singer-songwriter, Angie Nussey, will open for Sures.

The concert will benefit the College’s Kalamalka Press, which is celebrating its 20th year of publishing this year.

Sures won the 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (International) for ‘Any Precious Girl.’  The judges included Roseanne Cash and Tom Waits.

Sures has performed at many of Canada’s folk festivals and has been featured on CBC Radio frequently.  Raised on a diet of Woody Guthrie and steeped in the history of great guitar-playing styles from North America to France (acoustic and electric) Ben’s music is embedded with a deep sense of the story-telling tradition.  Add in the golden years of The Winnipeg Folk Festival where Ben learned how to entertain an audience from the likes of James Keelaghan and Taj Mahal and you have a talent that children, teens, brooding 20-year-olds, baby boomers and old folkies love.  He speaks with all of them in mind. Sures has released four CDs, the last two being Goodbye Pretty Girl (2004) and Field Guide To Loneliness (2008).

Angie Nussey is touring with Sures and promoting her new CD, Little Tragedies.  Raised in Ontario, Nussey has surfaced as one of the most interesting young singer-songwriters in the past six years.  The release of her most recent album, Little Tragedies, is exciting proof of where this songwriter is coming from and where she plans to go.  Five, full-length releases, countless songwriting and performance awards, (including best female performer 2005 and 2006, as well as best song (Forbidden Thoughts) 2005 at the Toronto Independent Music Awards), and a non-stop touring schedule have returned Angie Nussey to a place of fearlessness.

Both singers are here in the Okanagan and the concert at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka Campus Lecture Theatre will be a benefit concert for Kalamalka Press.

“We’re so lucky to have these two performers come here,” said John Lent, Regional Dean of Okanagan College, and a singer-songwriter himself. “My brother, Michael Lent,  produced Ben’s last two CDs and that’s why this all fell together, accidentally.”

The benefit concert will assist the Kalamalka Press expand its operations.  “We have published 15 award-winning books over the past 20 years,” Lent said, “and we would like to begin to mount a more aggressive publishing program so that we can continue to introduce new voices to the Canadian literary scene. The history and the success of this press is one of the best-kept secrets of the Okanagan, and we’d like to get the profile of the press out into the public eye more dramatically.”

Having Sures and Nussey perform is also part of the new two-year Diploma In Writing & Publishing that Okanagan College’s English Department has launched this year, and this diploma will include songwriting as part of its curriculum.  “We have some of the best creative writing instructors in Canada here,” Lent said “and some of the most bright and dedicated students I’ve seen here over the past ten years. These songwriters will be an inspiration to these students.”

Tickets for this concert are $20 for the public and $10 for students and are available at The Bean Scene in downtown Vernon or at the door.

New world record for 25th Spaghetti Bridge as Hungarians sweep top spots
Okanagan College Media Release

A new world record was the result for the heavyweight contest during Okanagan College’s 25th annual Spaghetti Bridge contest.

The winning bridge was built by Bala’zs Botka of Hungary’s Budapest Polytechnic, weighed 994.9 g and held 352.62 kg before faltering. Botka won the competition last year with teammate Sa’ndor Kurucz with a bridge that weighed slightly less (984.4 grams) but also held considerably less (255.7 kg). Botka’s 2008 result broke the world record of 257.33 kg, which was set in 2005 by a previous Hungarian competitor.

Botka’s classmates took second and third place in the heavyweight division with Norbert Pozsmyi’s bridge holding 350.67 kg, followed by Szilard Markus’ bridge, which held 310.75 kg. This year marked the fifth consecutive top place finish for a student from Budapest Polytechnic.

Hungarian competitors in the heavyweight division took the top six spots, finishing ahead of three local contenders: Brad Reinholz (KSS 12.53 kg), Hayden Kanigan (KSS 11.92 kg) and Ian Purvis (OKM 1.76 kg).

Elsewhere in other categories three students from AL Fortune swept the secondary individual competition. In this category individuals’ bridges must carry a specified load without failing. The lightest bridge to carry the required weight is named the winner. First place went to Travis Fischer (268.5 g); second place went to Marcus Purr (306.4 g) and third was captured by Clinton Uhlenberg (307.2 g).

In the secondary team category first place went to Al Fortune’s Marcus Purr, Brett Zak, Matt Townsend and Dexter Anderson (305.1 g). Second place went to KLO Middle School’s Dylan Graham, Connor Scott, Adam Yeske and Jordan Ashworth (312.5 g). Third place was also won by KLO: Brendan Wright, Jen Pynn and Austin Barrett (325.9 g).

In the post-secondary category team competition Budapest Polytechnic took the top spot with a team comprised of: Norbert Pozsmyi, Bala’zs Botka, Sa’ndor Kurucz and Aliz Totivan (307.7 g). Second place was won by Okanagan College’s Thanet Ying-Udomrat, Christopher Lundrigan, Tyler Kraft and Darren (314.6 g). Third spot also went to Okanagan College: Jason Manning, Naomi Perrault, Brian Parke and Tom Tribe (322.8 g).

There were no successful bridges in the post-secondary individual competition.

SNC-Lavalin Inc., builders of the new William R. Bennett Bridge in Kelowna sponsored the heavyweight category while ASTTBC (Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C.) sponsored the teambuilding and student competitions.

College business students sweep regional competition
Okanagan College Media Release

sifeA sweep of two of Western Canada’s most prestigious business awards was the result for two teams from Okanagan College’s School of Business who competed at the Regional SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) competition on Feb. 29 in Calgary.

SIFE Okanagan won first place in two categories: the HSBC SIFE Financial Education Challenge and the TD SIFE Entrepreneurship Challenge, shutting out 21 rival teams from institutions including UBC, TRU, the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan and Royal Roads University.

A panel of more than 50 highly regarded business leaders, including senior executives and CEOs, judged the competition.

“It was amazing to get this type of exposure for our projects and Okanagan College,” said Stewart LaPage, captain of the entrepreneurship team. “It really reflects the type of education students of Okanagan College receive – we were up against stiff competition from some of the best schools, and SIFE teams in Western Canada. Our goal at the start of the year was simply to attend the regional competitions. Winning one was amazing, but to win both, we exceeded all expectations.”

The wins earned both teams a trip to the national competition in Toronto in May as well as $1,500 in cash prizes per team.

“SIFE Okanagan represented Okanagan College extremely well at this competition,” said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “The results speak to their commitment to learning, the dedication of our faculty and the strength of our programs.”

Team Entrepreneurship was comprised of Vernon business student Dustin Felske and three students from Kelowna: Andrew Malashewsky, Krystle Sivorot and Jason Sanders.

Team Financial Literacy was also made up of one Vernon and three Kelowna students: Justin Sharma (Vernon), Stewart LaPage, Jayme Cosar and Mike Blonde. The teams were mentored by Okanagan College faculty advisors Garth Maguire and Dr. Kyleen Myrah.

“It was a great experience and the results were spectacular as indicated by the teams’ attitude, their performance and the results of the competition,” said Maguire. “The students were terrific and presented their best performance when it counted.”

The SIFE Okanagan teams, formerly known as ACE (Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship) Okanagan, are now in their third year competing in SIFE championships. The 2008 teams spring boarded off the success of former teams who won a series of past honours, including semi-final contention at the national competition, the title of Best Start-Up Chapter in 2006 and Top Alumni Contribution in 2007 (Cliff Anderson).

SIFE Okanagan is proud to recognize the support of local sponsors Grant Thornton, Interior Savings, RBC, Okanagan School of Business and Okanagan College.

SIFE is a global, non-profit organization that seeks to change the world through highly dedicated student teams on more that 1,800 university campuses in 46 countries. ACE has a partnership with SIFE that enables students to take their experiences to an international level. Each year, the SIFE National Champion will represent Canada at the SIFE World Cup, held in various cities around the world.

Spaghetti bridge contest to honour its past and celebrate future on 25th anniversary
Okanagan College Media Release

Competitors and spectators involved in Okanagan College’s 25th annual Spaghetti Bridge Building competition will find out on Friday if experience can outperform youth.

A twist in the competition to honour the silver anniversary of Spaghetti Bridge will allow former four-time heavyweight champion Bob Williams to showcase a bridge alongside a collection of international and local secondary and post-secondary students including a team of Hungarians whose predecessors hold the current world record and have been unbeaten in the past four years.

Williams, known fondly by Spaghetti Bridge organizers as the Pasta Pastor, held the world record title for the heavyweight competition four times until the competition rules changed in 2004, making non-students ineligible.

Another longtime Spaghetti Bridge alumnus, Lincoln Miller, will attend the 25th anniversary this Friday. Miller won the heavyweight title five times, often trading off the top spot with Williams. Williams and Miller dominated the event for more than a decade until the new rules were implemented.

“We changed the entry rules because we really wanted to promote the event among students as a way to foster interest in engineering,” said Michelle Lowry, event organizer. “This year we invited Bob and Lincoln to build a bridge for demonstration purposes because it is a nice way to recognize their contributions to the event over the past years. Bob’s bridge will be weighed after the other contestants and may allow him to hold bragging rights for 2008 if his bridge performs as well as he expects.”

Last year’s heavyweight winner was built by Bala’zs Botka and Sa’ndor Kurucz of Budapest Polytechnic, weighed 984.4 grams and held 255.7 kilograms before collapsing. The Hungarians’ performance left them two kilograms shy of a new world record in the competition – the record currently stands at 257.33 kilograms and was set by another Hungarian student in 2005.

Students from the esteemed Budapest Polytechnic, one of Hungary’s oldest engineering schools, have won the local competition every year since 2004 and hold the record for the strongest spaghetti bridge in Okanagan College history. This year’s entries include more students from Hungary who will be looking to carry on their country’s history of success at the Canadian competition.

SNC-Lavalin Inc., builders of the new William R. Bennett Bridge in Kelowna have signed on as premiere sponsors of the heavyweight category while ASTTBC (Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C.) are sponsoring the teambuilding and student competitions.

In the heavyweight competition, first place winners will receive $1,500; second place will earn $1,000, while third place will take $500.

The competition gets underway on March 7, 2008 at the KLO campus of Okanagan College. The elementary student portion of the event will begin at 10 a.m., followed by individual and teambuilding competitions and finally the heavyweight challenge, which is scheduled to begin around 1 p.m. in the lecture theatre.

The competition will be broadcast live over the Internet and can be viewed by logging on to: http://cylon.nten.ca.

Spring break camps offer learning and fun at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is offering a variety of fun and educational camps for boys and girls from grades 3-6 and 7-9 during the weeks of spring break.

Each of the camps are four days long from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (camps will not be run on statutory holidays for Easter) at the KLO campus of Okanagan College. Every participant will have a chance to learn new skills, make new friends, and have a great time doing it!

Children in Grades 3-6 have their choice of the following two camps will run during the week of March 17-20 – each camp costs $158:
•    Egyptian Week will offer campers the chance to travel to the fascinating world of Ancient Egypt without ever leaving the classroom! Mummies, pyramids and tombs are just a few things you will discover. 
•    Babysitter Training will get your child ready for that summer job. Practical experience in holding, changing diapers and dressing a baby or child are all included. Successful candidates will become a Red Cross trained babysitter.

The themes for week 2, (March 25 – 28) for Grades 3-6 are:
•    Wizards Academy where children will discover how a broom files, decode a secret message, taste a sip of “butter beer,” eat chocolate covered frogs and create potions, wands, hats and a book of science spells.
•    Wizards Return is calling all wizards as we harness the power of imagination to connect edible potions, create sludge and practice charms. 

Teens in Grades 7-9 can participate in the following two camps, which cost $228 per week:
•    March 17-20 - Web Page Design will teach students to launch their own website using their own unique personality. The more adventurous will be encouraged to be creative and use simple Macromedia Flash to make the site really cool and creative. Graduates take home their website on a CD!
•    March 25-28 - Flash Animation and Multi Media Design will let your child’s creative mind take over! Campers will learn how to take any photo and turn it into digital artwork. Participants will use leading edge Macromedia Flash software to design an awesome slide show, short animated movie, or a splashy web page. At the end create a digital art slide show or photo artwork on CD to send to friends and family.

To register for any of these courses or for more information, contact Continuing Studies at 862-5480 or email klarson@okanagan.bc.ca

Spotlight on Human Service Worker and ECE programs
Okanagan College Media Release

A series of free information sessions will spotlight training and employment opportunities in two of the region’s fastest-growing sectors, health care and early childhood education.

Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus will host the sessions next week for programs that begin in the spring and fall.

Two of the programs being featured at an information session on Saturday, March 8 in room 141 of the Salmon Arm campus have never been offered in the region before. Information about the two-year Early Childhood Education diploma will be presented at 11 a.m. This program will prepare students for work with children, families, and the community in planning enriched programs in daycares, preschools, and out of school care contexts that focus on healthy early development. The program will be offered in Salmon Arm for the first time in September, providing it receives budget approval from the Board of Governors.

The Human Service Worker program will be featured at 12 p.m. Beginning in September 2008, this two-year program prepares students for employment in the social service, mental health and developmental disabilities fields and includes practicum training. Students who complete the diploma can transfer into degree programs including UBC Okanagan’s Bachelor of Social Work.

Okanagan College is also offering the 23-week Home Support/Resident Care Attendant program on May 5 in Salmon Arm. This program prepares students to work in community and residential care settings. Theory and practice are associated with training in personal care, including: nutrition planning, household safety, client socialization and more. Call 832-2126 for more information or to register.

Local events to mark International Women’s Day
Okanagan College Media Release

An award-winning writer, women scholars, social activists and a burlesque researcher are just some of the women who will headline a series of community events leading up to International Women’s Day - March 8, 2008.

In recognition of the importance of the day, Okanagan College will present events on March 6 and 7 in Penticton and Vernon; two events will take place in Kelowna on March 4 and 5 – both are sponsored by UBC Okanagan.

The theme for Okanagan College’s events focuses on the trafficking of women, sexual slavery and prostitution. But organizer and Okanagan College Women’s Studies professor Dr. Ann Marie McKinnon notes that International Women’s Day reaches far beyond any one topic.

“International Women’s Day is not just about one theme or one group of women – it is about everyone,” says McKinnon. “It is about recognizing the importance of gender equality but also about celebrating women in every capacity.”

The first International Women's Day took place on March 8, 1911 in Copenhagen. On Sept. 19, 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing nation in the world to give women the right to vote. International Women’s Day is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The Okanagan will recognize International Women’s Day with the following free events:
Tuesday, March 4, 2:30- 4 p.m. at the UBC Okanagan Arts Building Atrium
Mary Shearman of Simon Fraser University gives an enlightening presentation on the history of burlesque performance in British Columbia. To be followed by refreshments and the jazz styling’s of award winning local singer Olga Osipova.
Wednesday, March 5, 7 p.m., Atrium, Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna
Panel Discussion: Women and the Sex Trade in Kelowna and British Columbia.
Learn about how the sex trade affects women in our community and our province. A panel discussion will feature representatives of Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resources Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, Benita Bunjun of Vancouver Status of Women and author Maggie de Vries.
Thursday, March 6, 11:30a.m. - 2 p.m. Okanagan College Penticton Campus PL 107
Guest Speaker Maggie de Vries will speak on Sex Workers: Missing and Murdered-- a personal view. de Vries is the author of Missing Sarah: a Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister, which won the George Ryga Award for social awareness in BC Literature. Sarah disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in April 1998. A murder charge was laid against Robert Pickton in her case in 2005. For the last six years, Maggie has been working with women in Sarah's neighbourhood and learning about Sarah's world. As well as teaching regularly at UBC and being a children's book editor, Maggie is also the author of four books for children and several other pieces for adults.

Friday, March 7, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Okanagan College Kalamalka Campus, Theatre D212
Guest Speaker Maggie de Vries: Writing from (and to) the Margins: Reaching Understanding Through Memoir

Arkle to deliver keynote address at annual Business Banquet
Okanagan College Media Release - Feb. 11, 2008

 Nick Arkle
Nick Arkle, one of Kelowna’s most committed humanitarians and recipient of Okanagan College’s 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award, will share his insight and perspective on the importance of relationship building and social responsibility with the Okanagan’s top business minds next month. 

The Okanagan College alumnus will headline the 29th annual Okanagan Business Students’ Association (OBSA) Business Banquet, which will take place in Kelowna on March 13 at the Grand Okanagan, beginning at 5 p.m.

Arkle was honoured earlier this year by Okanagan College as the Distinguished Alumni Award recipient based on his longstanding history of professional accomplishments, as Chief Forester of Gorman Bros. Lumber Ltd., as well as for his civic contributions, which have produced far-reaching results on a local, regional and international scope.

The event begins with a cocktail hour followed by a four-course meal with wine and finishes with the keynote address by Arkle. Tickets are $75, and are available by calling 762-5445 ext. 4745 or emailing OBSA@okanagan.bc.ca.

The Business Banquet provides an excellent opportunity for current business leaders to network with future business leaders in the Okanagan. Arkle’s involvement with the Okanagan Partnership, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and United Nations will make for an exciting perspective on local and international business.

“We are thrilled to have Nick Arkle as our keynote speaker this year because he brings such a fresh perspective and outlook on business,” said Tia-Toni Wilson, banquet director. “Through his professional service, volunteer work and representation as an Okanagan College Alumnus, Nick serves as an excellent example of the importance of mentorship within the business community, social responsibility and relationship building.”

Okanagan College business students organize the banquet as a way to connect with the valley’s business and community leaders and as a means to introduce students to prospective employers and colleagues. They take care of every aspect of the event from ticket sales to marketing and event management. One hundred per cent of the net proceeds from ticket sales go toward scholarships to support Okanagan School of Business students.

“With a reputation and history spanning nearly three decades, the OBSA Business Banquet is a mainstay for the business community,” said Dr. Jayne Brooks, Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. “There is significant community support for the event, including sponsorship from the Certified General Accountants’ Association and 101.5 SILK-FM.”

The banquet has a history of showcasing top business minds. Last year’s speaker was Diane Buckner, host of the CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Prior to Buckner, David Chilton (author of the Wealthy Barber) led the 2006 banquet.

For tickets or more information about the OBSA Business Banquet, please call (250) 762–5445 ext. 4745, or email banquet director Tia-Toni Wilson at obsa.banquetdirector@gmail.com.

School District 23 and College partner to offer increased access and programming for students
Okanagan College Media Release - Feb. 5, 2008

Jim Hamilton and Moyra Baxter 
Okanagan College and School District 23 are building on a strong partnership to provide more opportunities for high school students in a variety of programs.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today by Moyra Baxter, Chairperson for the Board of Education of School District 23 and Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton will expand access for learners throughout the region in the area of health care and beyond. 

The alliance between two of the region’s key education providers will expand access and opportunities for students, promote collaborative programming and provide a foundation for further partnership.

“It is very important for the School District to find opportunities for our students that will serve them well during their school years and into their professional lives,” said Baxter. “We are very pleased to be able to work with Okanagan College on these dual credit programs.”

The MOU was signed in the College’s Home Support/Resident Care Attendant classroom, where eight of the district’s secondary students are currently receiving advanced training as a result of the partnership.

This commitment will build upon the success of a prior agreement between School District 23 and Okanagan College, that opened the door for district students to receive trades training at the College. Prior to enrolling in the dual credit programs the students receive academic advice and support from the School District to ensure they will successfully complete the college program while achieving high school graduation requirements. The expansion of this partnership to include health programs will take the partnership one step further.

“Today’s MOU signing confirms our commitment to a strong and ongoing partnership between Okanagan College and School District 23,” said Hamilton. “This agreement is producing real results for our students and our community.”

College Board approves tuition increase for 2008-09
Okanagan College Media Release - Jan. 29, 2008

Tuition fees at Okanagan College will be increasing by the rate of inflation, estimated to be approximately two per cent, in the coming year. The decision was reached Tuesday by the College’s Board of Governors.

“For the past two years, Okanagan College has been the only public post-secondary institution in the province to not raise its fees,” noted Board Chair Janet Shaw. “We face the same inflationary pressures as other institutions and are determined to maintain or improve the quality of service to students. In the final analysis we realize that in order to do that, we need to make allowances for inflation this coming year in our fee structure.”

For a full-time student taking a university arts program at the College, the increase will add approximately $60.36 to a full year’s tuition, bringing the cost to $3,078.36. The average tuition for B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions (including colleges, university colleges, universities and institutes) last year was $3,209.

Among the province’s colleges, tuition for the arts program at Okanagan College is second highest. Capilano College charged $3,120 in 2007-08. BCIT is the highest of the colleges and institutes, charging $4,568 for an arts program. The average tuition for the province’s three university colleges is $3,497, while the province’s universities charge an average of $4,462.

Provincial government policy limits public post-secondary institutions to increase their tuition and other fees by the amount of annual inflation. Before reaching the decision on fees, the Okanagan College Board listened to representation from students, who expressed concern about the impact of the inflationary increase on their ability to afford an education. The Okanagan College Students Association presented a petition of 1,150 signatures to the Board opposing the tuition fee increase.

“We appreciate their situation, but we must safeguard the financial health of the institution and have to ensure its viability and its capacity to offer students the education they expect,” said Shaw. “We won’t finish our budget preparations and deliberations until March, but we already know of more than $400,000 in increased costs this coming year as a consequence of inflation, and we may be facing a budget issue of as much as $1.3 million that will not be covered through an increase in our per-student grant from the province.”

The tuition increase is expected to generate approximately $300,000 in revenue. Okanagan College’s annual budget is approximately $76.5 million.

Astro-paparazzo to shed new light on stars
Okanagan College Media Release - Jan. 29, 2008

Delving into the private lives of stars has become a commonplace occurrence for paparazzi. A public presentation at Okanagan College will take that fascination with the stars one step further when Dr. Jaymie Matthews, one of Canada’s foremost astronomers and a self-proclaimed astro-paparazzo takes the stage.

Matthews will explain how he unveils the hidden lifestyles of stars by eavesdropping on “the music of the spheres.” He will also describe his version of an interstellar iPod -- Canada’s first space telescope -- Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars (MOST), which detects vibrations in the light of ringing stars too subtle to be seen even by the largest telescopes on Earth.

Matthews’ presentation will take place at Okanagan College’s Kalamalka campus in the lecture theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. The talk is part of the Science and Society Speaker Series co-hosted by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre. Admission is by donation.

An astrophysicist and Mission Scientist leading the Canadian Space Agency’s MOST project, Matthews and his team of students and collaborators are writing a biography of our Sun – past and future – by studying its neighbours in the Milky Way.

Their research sometimes sounds more like astromedicine than astrophysics: performing ultrasound on stellar embryos, checking on the hyperactivity of a pre-teen sun, and taking the pulses of stars in their twilight years. They are also using MOST to forecast the weather on planets beyond the Solar System, and have begun the search for Terra Nova – exoEarths around other stars.

Matthews is eloquent in finding metaphors to illustrate the phenomena he studies. He once compared the rapid surface vibrations of a star to body language. Matthews and his colleagues have adapted the way geophysicists use seismic waves to explore the Earth's structure. Applied to the study of stars, they call this new science stellar seismology or asteroseismology.

"We can't put seismographs on the surface of the Sun or other stars, but we can see subtle effects of the waves as they cause the stellar surface to oscillate—they literally ring like gaseous bells,” explains Matthews. “The frequencies of the oscillations give us direct information on the gas through which the sound waves travel. We can use measurements of the composition of the star's core as a clock to register its age.”

For more information about this presentation please contact the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644.

More funds for students as Home for Learning sells
Okanagan College Media Release - Jan. 18, 2008

h4lchequeStudents who participated in Okanagan College’s 2007 Residential Construction program will reap the rewards of the program’s success when they return to the College for further carpentry apprenticeship training.

This development comes as the Okanagan College Foundation accepted a cheque for $165,725.72 on Tuesday -- proceeds from the sale of the 2007 Home for Learning project in Kelowna.

The Residential Construction students who built the home, as well as plumbing and electrical pre-apprenticeship students who worked on a portion of the home, will receive bursaries and the opportunity to utilize new equipment, which will be purchased by the College to ensure students have access to the latest tools.

The project’s three partners, Vintage Design Ltd., the Village of Kettle Valley and Okanagan College, each played major roles in the success of the project, as did the students who built the home and the sponsors who supported the program.

This year’s profit increased by nearly 45 per cent over last year’s home and is a credit to the widespread and generous support of the construction industry and community partners, explains Randy Werger, Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship for Okanagan College.

“The support for this project and similar projects throughout the valley is a testament to the value of this program and the need for more skilled trades people,” says Werger. “The construction industry has come through in a big way to help out our students -- from donating to this project to hiring our apprentices -- and we are very appreciative of the partnership.”

All three of the 2007 partners have signed on for this year’s project, which will take place in the Village of Kettle Valley. The 2008 Residential Construction program will begin on Feb. 4 with classroom training at the KLO campus of the College. Students will then move to the construction site where they will build a home under the leadership of Jim Lamb, President of Vintage Design Ltd.

Lamb will design the home specifically for the program, ensuring students are challenged and their skills are up to industry standards. Lamb is looking forward to taking on a second group of Residential Construction students and sharing his knowledge with the class.

“Students who take this program are going to come out ahead and will be able to secure a better paying job than those who don’t have the experience,” explains Lamb.

Limited space is available in the 30-week program in Kelowna, as well as programs in the South Okanagan, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Revelstoke. Each of the Residential Construction programs begin on Feb. 4, 2008. For more information or to register, call (250) 862-5457.

New faces on Okanagan College Board of Governors
Okanagan College Media Release - Jan. 7, 2008

A new representative has joined the Okanagan College Board of Governors.

Amaris Langley, a second-year Arts student from Kelowna, joins Eve Nicole Brighouse-Warren as student representative on the Board of the College. Brighouse-Warren is entering her third term as a student representative.

They join a number of appointed and elected representatives who comprise the 14-person board, which is chaired by Janet Shaw.

Shaw, and fellow appointees Bill Cooke, Jane Lister, Allen Tozer, and Paul Johnson were recently reappointed to the Board, with their terms extended to 2010. Michael Conlin and Angelika March are representatives chosen by Okanagan College staff.

Brian Hughes and Pauline Terbasket are also provincial appointees to the Board – Hughes’ term expires in 2009. Terbasket’s expires at the end of May, 2008

Rick Gee, the chair of the Computer Science department at Okanagan College, will be joining the board in January as a consequence of his recent election as the Chair of the institution’s Education Council. The Education Council chair is an ex officio member of the Board, as is the President of Okanagan College.
Start your education in January
Okanagan College Media Release - Jan. 2, 2008

Hundreds of students from the South Okanagan to the Shuswap are gearing up to start their education this month at Okanagan College.

Students like Salmon Arm’s Ryan Parker and Kelowna’s Kaleigh Knutson will begin their post-secondary education this winter.

Parker will pursue an Associate Degree of Arts at the Salmon Arm campus in January, eight months earlier than he originally planned. "I was going to enroll at the College for the fall semester but I am sick of working in an unfulfilling job so I thought I would begin right away."

Parker attended Secondary School in Salmon Arm and chose Okanagan College for the convenience and accessibility it offers.

"Attending Okanagan College allows me to live at home and find a part-time job here in Salmon Arm," said Parker.

Knutson, an 18-year-old graduate of Mount Boucherie Secondary School in Westbank will begin the New Year as a student in the Okanagan School of Business at the Kelowna campus.

"I had been working since I graduated from high school and I was ready for a change," said Knutson. "I have always been interested in business and when I went online to the Okanagan College website, I realized I could enroll for the January semester."

Knutson and Parker will each take five courses, considered to be a full course load, and both will maintain part-time jobs, a schedule that is increasingly normal for post-secondary students.

Not everyone enrolling at Okanagan College will take full course loads, explained Jane Muskens, Manager of Recruitment for the College.

"There are so many possibilities for students wanting to begin their education in the New Year," said Muskens. "Everything from University Transfer to Business, Trades to Adult Academic Career Preparation and even Continuing Studies courses are available for winter enrollment."

Muskens encourages anyone who still may be considering starting their education this winter to go online and check out the available courses or speak with an educational advisor about creating an education plan.

"One of the best ways to start a new year is to begin taking steps toward an achievable goal," said Muskens. "There are lots of resources to help students with everything from selecting courses to applying for financial aid."

Students can enroll for many academic programs until Jan. 18. You can visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/januarystart for more information.

New Director of Finance joins Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release - Dec. 26, 2007

A new city and a position on Okanagan College’s Leadership Team are just a few of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead for Chi-Fui Chong, Okanagan College’s new Director of Finance. Chong joined the College on Monday, Dec. 17, bringing with him a portfolio of distinguished experience in the field of finance.

Chong comes to the Okanagan from Calgary where he worked as Director of Finance for several organizations including SAIT Polytechnic, Wood’s Homes, and the Chinese Christian Wing Kei Nursing Home Association.

Chong was educated in England at the London School of Accountancy and Brighton University. He has extensive experience as an Audit Manager, is a Chartered Accountant and is fluent in English, Chinese Mandarin and three other Chinese dialects.

“In the short time that I have been at Okanagan College I have been impressed by the strength of the management group,” said Chong. “There is a wealth of management talents both from internal staff moving through the ranks and from people bringing with them extensive public and private experience."

“Chi-Fui’s experience will be a great asset to our college,” said Bob Eby, Vice President of Finance and Administration.

Chong replaces Bob Willox who retired as Director of Finance on Dec. 14 after 32 years of service to Okanagan College.