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Dr. Gary Dickinson will be honoured by Okanagan College at its Summer Convocation ceremony with the Distinguished Service Award for two decades of leadership and dedication to Okanagan College as well as for outstanding service to his community.
Dickinson has a long and valued history with Okanagan College and its predecessor, Okanagan University College. With a career devoted to education that spanned more than 35 years, Dickinson worked in B.C. Secondary schools and post-secondary institutions until retiring in 2000. The last 20 years of his career were spent at Okanagan College and OUC.
“This is a very meaningful and relevant award for Okanagan College,” explained President Jim Hamilton. “In the six years since becoming the new Okanagan College we have only recognized two individuals with the Distinguished Service Award. Gary joins former Regional Dean Lynda Wilson in sharing the honour of becoming a Distinguished Service Award recipient and he is very much deserving. Gary did much to develop and promote learning and teaching at OUC and that legacy lives on at Okanagan College.”
Dickinson holds three degrees from the University of British Columbia. A Doctorate of Education, a Master’s of Arts in Adult Education and a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education.
After teaching positions in the Kimberly School District, East Kootenay Community College - where he was the institution’s first president - and after a spell as an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, Dickinson joined Okanagan College in 1981 in the role of South Okanagan Regional Director, a position he maintained for five years before leading the Faculty of Adult and Continuing Education, where he was Dean for 14 years.
Dickinson’s leadership in Continuing Education contributed to the faculty’s growth and development throughout the region. At the time he joined the College, community education had been identified as an area of importance in which the needs of the community could be addressed. Between 1988 and 1993, total course registrations for CE centres alone grew by 24 per cent, exceeding 33,000 registrations in 1993.
“I began working for Okanagan College when Gary had become the Dean of Continuing Education,” said Charlotte Kushner, Director of Continuing Studies at Okanagan College. “The growth of our operation was very much a testament to his knowledge, skills and leadership in the area of adult education and continuing education operations. In fact, he was known around the province as the guru of all things continuing education.”
Dickinson spent the last year and a half of his career with OUC in an acting role as Vice President of Education. He retired from post-secondary in 2000.
During his career Dickinson spent a great deal of time using his education and knowledge for the betterment of a variety of working groups and boards. He was a member of the Task Force on Community Colleges, a member of the Vancouver Community College Board of Governors, President of the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts, Director of the Penticton Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Penticton Hospice Society, and Chair of the Ministry of Education Advisory Committee on Continuing Education.
Since retiring from OUC, Dickinson has followed his interest in continuing education by serving as President of the Society for Learning in Retirement, a 700-member organization providing educational programs for seniors in the Central Okanagan.
More recently he has served as a member of the Okanagan College Regional Advisory Committee since it was formed in 2006 and was elected as Chair in 2008, a position he continues to hold. He is currently also a community representative on the Okanagan College Research Ethics Board.
Dickinson’s exemplary career and dedicated service will be honoured at Okanagan College’s Summer Convocation ceremony on June 29 at 6 p.m. in Kelowna.