Kotler applies expertise as Entrepreneur in Residence

kotler4Mel Kotler’s record of service to the community is about to grow longer, but this time he’ll be helping the next generation of entrepreneurs in the Okanagan.

Kotler, who is one of three Honorary Fellows for 2011, has signed on as Entrepreneur in Residence for the coming academic year in Okanagan College’s School of Business.

“We’re excited that someone with Mel’s reputation for entrepreneurial success and his devotion to community is willing to voluntarily invest his time as a mentor for students,” said Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of the School of Business. “The value of being able to draw on his knowledge and experience will be huge for students.”

“I’m eager to start working with the students,” said Kotler. “If I can inspire some and help them with advice borne of practical experience, then I know my contributions are of value. I know the School of Business has a reputation for providing students real-world experience and producing graduates who are career-ready. I’ll take great satisfaction in being a part of that process.”

Kotler was born and raised in Montreal where he took on his first job in the textile industry immediately after high school. He spent 16 years learning the ins and outs of sales, management and marketing before moving west to Calgary in 1977 where he opened his first business, Fabricland. It wasn’t long before Fabricland opened its second location becoming a fast-growing chain of fashion fabric and textiles.

At the time of his retirement from Fabricland in 2001, there were 40 Fabricland stores in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and another 20 franchises across the region. Since retiring he has devoted his time to community projects.

In 2002 he was presented with a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal by Sindi Hawkins for his outstanding service to the community. He was also named Entrepreneur of the Year as well as Community Leader of the Year. In 2004 Kotler was awarded the Fred Macklin Memorial Award for his contribution to the well being of the City of Kelowna. The previous year he raised more than $1 million as chair of the Kelowna United Way fundraising campaign. United Way has recognized his leadership and service with a series of honours including the BC Vice-Chair’s Award of Distinction in 2004 and the Award of Distinction in 2008. In his retirement Mel has also served as a board member of several Kelowna companies including QHR Technologies and Pacific Safety Products.

Though he is no longer President of Fabricland, Kotler currently operates Mel Kotler Consultants Ltd., where he manages building projects such as South Point at Big White and The Madison in downtown Kelowna.

Kotler is Okanagan College’s fourth Entrepreneur in Residence following in the footsteps of Bill Redmond, Ed Hall and Doug Manning. As the Entrepreneur in Residence Kotler will meet with students, make presentations to classes and mentor students in small groups or individually.


Digital cameras open new aperture for retired instructor

cooper4Okanagan College Continuing Studies instructor Tom Cooper didn’t include teaching digital photography in his retirement plans but that’s where it seems he has ended up.

It started when he walked into the Water Street Seniors’ Centre almost six years ago and realized there was a need to teach his fellow retirees how to better understand, and be more comfortable with, their new digital cameras.

Before retiring to the Okanagan, Cooper was a computer-based training course developer and instructor for the Canadian Armed Forces as well as having been a community college instructor.

His years of teaching expertise and natural inclination betrayed him, and in jig time he was signed on with Okanagan College Continuing Studies, developing digital camera and digital photography courses during the daytime and then delivering them in the classroom at night and on the weekends.

“Without doubt I’m busier now than I was when I was working full time,” says Cooper, “but I’m loving every minute of it.”

Over the past five years, as digital cameras have grown in complexity, Cooper has developed more than 15 different courses that are allowing hundreds of people to feel more at ease, and more creative, with digital photography.

The courses are offered in-class through Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies department in Kelowna and, more recently, in online expanded adaptations through the College’s Distance Education department.

Cooper’s enthusiasm is clearly what drives him. “I honestly can’t see not teaching, not exploring and being fascinated by digital cameras and digital photography, and not wanting to express myself through my images for a good many years. And if I can somehow make it simple to understand, and fun to apply, so much the better!”

To find out more about Tom Cooper or photography courses at Okanagan College, go online To see Cooper’s portfolio and read more, visit

Greenslade to release third novel

greensladeEnglish professor Frances Greenslade is releasing her third book, Shelter, at an event in Penticton at Okanagan College on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. Shelter, set in the 1960s and 70s, tells the story of two sisters and their quest to find out what happened to their mother, who left them in Williams Lake and never returned.

"Poignant, tender and vivid, Shelter traces the relationship of two daughters with their missing mother through family stories. Greenslade's gorgeous landscapes and loving attention to her characters makes this journey through loss and survival unforgettable. I was glued to every page."
-- Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach

Shelter is published by Knopf Random House and will be in bookstores on Aug. 23. For more information, visit:

Dewinetz joins colleagues on A Verse to Summer

English professor Jason Dewinetz made an appearance on CBC Radio’s morning show last week when he shared his spin on summer overheard as a part of A Verse to Summer. Rossland listener Katie challenged Jason to write an original poem about the sounds overheard during what she called, a poor man’s summer – no exciting vacations, no great lakes to swim in, just staying home and imagining a great getaway.

Jake Kennedy imposed a few constraints on Jason – his poem had to feature onomatopoeia and had to be recognizable in the style of a children’s rhyme. Curious as to what he came up with? Listen to Grumble and Whoosh.

Arnica Rowan leads efforts to battle food crisis

ethiopia4Okanagan College Business professor Arnica Rowan is leading a campaign to alleviate the effects of the current drought and food crisis in Ethiopia through the non-profit organization Vulnerable Children Society.

As president of the organization, Arnica is working to promote awareness of the current issues and raise money to feed those affected.

The numbers are staggering: 12.4 million people are facing severe food shortages and famine in the Horn of Africa. The facts are grim: grains cost Ethiopian families 76 per cent more than they did this time last year.

The Vulnerable Children Society’s drought relief fund has already assisted many families in Ethiopia and aims to support an additional 50 families who have been vetted by the Wolata Women’s Office. The cost of providing the necessary food aid is estimated at approximately $1,900. Anyone interested in finding out more or contributing a one-time donation can visit or contact Arnica
August 16, 2011 Vol. 5 Issue 10


Volunteers needed for Kelowna orientation

For the second year in Kelowna, Okanagan College will host a campus-wide semester kick-off on Sept. 6. In order to make this event great for new students, the orientation committee is calling for staff and faculty volunteers. 

Volunteer shifts will be one or two hours long and are needed from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Help is needed to assist with serving snacks, meeting and greeting and coordinating parking. Anyone interested in helping can contact Carolyn Hopkins  - local 4469.

Registrar's Office August e-newsletter available

The Registrar’s Office in Kelowna has published the August edition of its monthly e-newsletter. Reach Out provides readers with reminders of important dates, notification of Education Council approvals and general information about what’s new in the Registrar’s Office. Please visit to view the newsletter or email Inga to be added to the email distribution list.

50/50 winner announced

Congratulations to Bruce Campbell from the Biology Department in Kelowna, winner of the Aug. 12 payday draw for $542.50. All Okanagan College employees are eligible to participate in the Okanagan College Foundation 50/50 Staff Lottery.

If you wish to sign up, registration forms are available from Tessa Derksen (Local 4774) in the Advancement & Alumni/Okanagan College Foundation office (located in P103, KLO Campus) or from Human Resources.


Aug. 23-24 – Mark your calendar for Connections 2011. This year's annual employee learning conference will take place in Penticton. Haven’t had a chance to tour the new Centre of Excellence? Find out what all the international buzz is about and tour the new building. Learn about its sophisticated and innovative systems, design, and construction. Follow this link to learn more about the event. Registration has closed but those who still wish to attend can contact Marian Gruber.

Aug. 26 – Celebrate Bev McNamara’s career and retirement with colleagues and friends at the Mission Creek Golf Course restaurant - Duffers. Cocktails begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30. Tickets are $36.50 per person and can be purchased through Marie Weale.

Sept. 5 - Okanagan College will be closed in observance of Labour Day holiday.

Sept. 6 - Orientation events will take place at every Okanagan College campus.

Sept. 7 - Beginning of the fall semester.


Penticton's Centre of Excellence was profiled by the International Business Times (United Kingdom) - an online publication with a global perspective on the financial world. The Centre of Excellence was featured in the Green Economy section, read more about the building in: Canada College Adds Very Green Building.

News of Mel Kotler’s acceptance of Okanagan College’s Entrepreneur in Residence made the pages of the Okanagan Sunday. Read the article, which was picked up from a Public Affairs press release in: Entrepreneur applies expertise to benefit college business students.

The Daily Courier provided news coverage of a new road extension at the Vernon campus that links Kalamalka Road to Okanagan College and Hwy. 97. Read the full article in: College Way extension opens.

Residential Construction students in Penticton are working with partners at Agur Lake to build cabins for people with developmental disabilities. Read more in: Cabins added at Agur Lake and Construction Crew.

Eighteen-year-old Kirsten Emmott was featured in the Airdrie City View for her upcoming trip to Tanzania where she will spend a few months drilling wells and setting up windmills to help provide services for local residents. Kirsten is coming to Okanagan College this fall to pursue a diploma in International Development - Okanagan College's newest diploma program. Read more in: Local student heading to Africa to help out.

Public Affairs Director Allan Coyle submitted an article featuring CS instructor Tom Cooper to eVent magazine. Read about Cooper’s passion for all things photographic in: Digital cameras open new apertures for retired teacher.

Okanagan College English professor Frances Greenslade received rave reviews from the Penticton Western with the upcoming release of her new book, Shelter. Read more about the book, including quotes from Greenslade in Heather Allen's review: Penticton author makes long journey to Shelter.

Penticton’s Centre of Excellence received some positive feedback after power conservation expert Shell Busey visited the new building. Read more in: Excellent approval.

The Business Thompson Okanagan published a brief piece announcing Okanagan College as the host of the back to school Business after 5 event on Sept. 20 in Kelowna.

English professor Sean Johnston was quoted in the Summerland Review discussing the finalists for this year’s George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Read more about the shortlisted authors and their works in: Books selected for Ryga Award and Kohl's Portrait is part of this year's Ryga award gala.

A Public Affairs press release announcing Laura Thurnheer’s appointment to the B.C. Wine Authority was covered by the Business Thompson Okanagan. Read about Laura’s new role on the Board in: Thurnheer gets wine post.

Registrar Jane Muskens wrote about the recent unrest in Britain and its connection to high rates of unemployment among youth as well the increasing costs of post-secondary education. Read Jane’s take on the riots and their link to education in: ‘Lost generation’ take their frustration to Britain’s streets.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Christine Ulmer.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Tuesday, Aug. 30 – exactly one week before the beginning of the 2011 fall semester at Okanagan College.