Peers recognize employees for excellence in their work

Employee Excellence IOCAt the fourth annual Employee Excellence Award ceremony held on May 13, 2015 at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, awards were distributed to 10 employees, and one employee group team, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the College community.

Congratulations to the 2015 Employee Excellence Award recipients:

  • Strong Start – Amanda Pope (Accessibility Service Coordinator)

  • Scholarly Activity – Dr. Tim Walters (College English Professor)
  • Service Excellence Group – Rotating Trades (Marie Crossley, Michelle Sinclair, Gil Mohr, Don Lingor, Mike Perry, Mark Bird, Darrell Kendal, Kyle Lysholm, Dave Beckenhauer, Barry Mehus, Lyle Kennedy)
  • Service Excellence Individual – Karen Friesen (Library Clerk)
  • Innovation – Chef Bernard Casavant (Culinary Arts Manager)
  • Leadership – Kathy Butler (Director, Advancement & Alumni and Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation)
  • Key Directions – Corey Bransfield (Auto Mechanics Instructor)
  • Teaching Excellence – Corey Bell (Audio Engineering Instructor), Doug Birtwistle (College Math Professor), Howard Hisdal (College History Department Chair and Professor)
  • Career Achievement – Michael Douglas (Human Service Work Instructor).
College staff gathered in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning to celebrate their peers, alongside event hosts and emcees Charlotte Kushner, Vice President Students, and Cam McRobb, Motor Vehicle Trades department Chair and BCGEU Vocational Bargaining Chair. Award recipients, fellow employees and guests enjoyed sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and refreshments catered by the College’s Culinary Arts students.

For more information about the Employee Excellence Awards, please visit the website.

Master Capital Plan consultations to begin

The first round of consultations for Okanagan College’s Master Capital Plan, which looks at the directions for the College’s capital projects, will be held at the four campuses from late May to early June. All employees are invited to participate and provide valuable feedback.

The sessions are aimed to begin a visioning process for where the institution will be 20 to 25 years from today, and will include a review of Okanagan College’s 2007 Master Capital Plan. Master capital planning is about exploring the look, function, feel and growth potential of our existing campuses. Session discussions will center on topics including: envisioned changes, demands that will be placed on our facilities, and transportation needs.

The Master Planning Committee has developed a series of principles to facilitate dialogue and guide the discussions. All employees are invited to participate in the one-hour sessions, which are different, but complementary to the Strategic Planning sessions.

Session schedule:
Vernon, room D333:

  • Monday May 25 at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday May 26 at 1 p.m.

Salmon Arm, room 130:

  • Wednesday May 27 at 10 a.m.
  • Thursday May 28 at 1 p.m.


  • Tuesday June 2 at 10 a.m. (room E202)
  • Wednesday June 3 at 1 p.m. (room E310)
  • Monday June 15 at 10 a.m. (room E202)
  • Tuesday June 16 at 1 p.m. (room E102)

Penticton, room PC204:

  • Tuesday June 9 at 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday June 10 at 1 p.m.
For more information and if you have questions about the Master Capital Plan, please contact Donna Lomas, Regional Dean South Okanagan-Similkameen. 

Strategic Planning: round two of consultations

The Strategic Planning process is heading into its second phase, with internal consultations scheduled from May 27 to June 16 at the four campus locations. Employees have an opportunity to contribute their ideas that will build on the success and feedback from sessions held earlier this year, and help shape the future of Okanagan College.

The Strategic Plan Committee is hosting in-depth consultations with employees to look specifically at the current strengths and weaknesses of the College, the opportunities at hand, and possible directions the College should focus on heading to 2020.

Sessions are scheduled at the four campuses: Vernon (dates to be determined), Salmon Arm (May 27 and 28), Kelowna (June 2 and 3), Penticton (June 9 and 10), and additional sessions where all regions are welcome will be hosted in Kelowna (June 15 and 16). Each session will be 1.5 hours long.
For session details and schedules, and ongoing updates about the Strategic Planning process, please visit the OC2020 website.

New College liberal arts program announced

This fall, Okanagan College will offer a combined multi-disciplinary approach to studying liberal arts that is geared to students who have an intrinsic desire to explore connections and understand the causal relationships between the key subject areas of our society.

The Arts Experience (ArtsX) program was designed by faculty to provide an avant-garde learning option for the two-year university-transferable Associate of Arts degree. The program encourages the pursuit of deeper questions, understanding connections, and the exploration of creative and bold ideas. It aims to provide a progressive and innovative education option for students within our community.

Students will benefit from increased one-on-one time with instructors. The program will have an emphasis on collaborative teaching and learning, multi-disciplinary courses, alternative grading, and beyond-the-classroom education.

Those students who have received admission into the Associate of Arts degree program at Okanagan College will be given an opportunity to apply to this limited enrolment (up to 30 students) program and complete their studies through ArtsX.

Follow this link to read the press release and find out more about the program online.

Greyback Construction project gives students
hands-on experience

Kayla BlanchardA class of 11 students from Okanagan College’s Residential Construction program, under the guidance of their instructor David Lovisa, are gaining hands-on training as they build a high-end home in the South Okanagan.

Greyback Construction Ltd., overseeing the development of the resort-residential Skaha Hills development project in Penticton, is offering students the valuable job-shadow opportunity. The home the class is helping to build is expected to be finished in early June.

For student Kayla Blanchard, the project has helped her to develop confidence on the job site, as well as her carpentry skills. Blanchard credits her two-year-old son as her inspiration for going back to school to pursue a new career as a carpenter. She encourages other women to consider the trades as a career path.

The 26-week Residential Construction program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an apprentice carpenter in the construction industry.

Click here to read the press release. More information about the Residential Construction program and other Okanagan College trades foundation and apprenticeship programs is available online.

Green Trades building plans catches eye of
Andrew Sheret Limited for donation

Andrew Sheret IOCInspired by Okanagan College’s goal of building one of the most sustainable trades training facilities in North America, Andrew Sheret Limited—a B.C.-based distributor of plumbing and heating supplies—has stepped forward in support of the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign with a $50,000 pledge.
The company’s donation will support the construction of a tool crib in the new trades training complex currently under construction at the Kelowna campus.
Brian Findlay, President of Andrew Sheret Limited, notes that the sustainable construction plan was one of the factors that attracted the company to donate to the College for a second time, having previously given $50,000 to support the construction of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton. He pointed to their own company’s commitment to sustainability, including their home office in Victoria being a LEED Silver building.
The new Trades Complex building is striving to achieve LEED Platinum certification and meet requirements for the Living Building Challenge. The project includes photovoltaic arrays for power generation, geothermal heating and cooling, and greywater recycling.

To read more about the donation and new Trades Complex building’s sustainability features, read the press release here. To learn more about opportunities to contribute to the campaign visit the website.

Local author’s legacy celebrated with new student award focused on social justice

George RygaGeorge Ryga, a local author who garnered national recognition as a social justice playwright, is being commemorated through a new award that encourages students to promote social justice in the Okanagan.
In Ryga’s memory, his sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Ted Chudyk, have established two annual awards, each valued at $1,000. The fund also supports the production of the Ryga Journal, an initiative of Okanagan College’s English department.

Ryga is best known as a Canadian playwright and novelist whose work explored complex issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, privilege, and social structures in Canada. His 1967 play The Ecstacy of Rita Joe, written at his home in Summerland, is considered by scholars and critics to be an important landmark in modern Canadian theatre.

Ted and Anne ChudykThe award intends to inspire students to follow in the author’s footsteps, but they need not be writers. Any full-time Okanagan College students interested in creating awareness and promoting social justice in ways that will benefit the community can apply for the award.
Students can apply for the awards from June 1 to July 31, 2015.

For more information, please contact Okanagan College’s Financial Aid and Awards department by email or (250) 862-5419.

To read the press release, follow this link.

Peddle your way to a new bike: join Bike to Work 

Bike to WorkExperience commuting to work on your bicycle during Bike to Work Week May 25 to 31. Employees are encouraged to sign up to join colleagues as part of the Okanagan College team. Currently 50 individuals have signed up, and the goal is 75.

Logging the distance travelled by employees, the total number of kilometers for the College’s team will be forwarded to the City of Kelowna.

Registered participants who peddle their way to work at least one day, and one way either to or from work, will have their name entered into an incredible prize draw: the grand prize is a new CCM commuter bike with an aluminum frame, 7 speeds, splash guards, a rack, pannier bags and a lock.

To look the part, on Thursday May 21, from noon to 1 p.m., Bike to Work Week t-shirts will be for sale in the atrium of the Centre for Learning in Kelowna. They are $5 each and available in unisex and women’s v-neck styles.

To register or for more information, email Paul Stephenson.

Roundabout 2015 a success

Roundabout 2015, an Okanagan College employee professional development series of workshops, wrapped up on Friday, May 15. This ambitious multi-campus event, presented in collaboration by Learning & Teaching and IT Services, saw 75 Okanagan College employees attend sessions offered throughout the 10 days of workshops. Topics of each one-hour session ranged from learning and teaching, information technology and education technology.

Those who registered and attended were included in a prize draw:  Beryl Amaron (Anthropology) won an iPad Mini, Verna Simpson (Continuing Studies) won a Logitech wireless keyboard and Lynda Dreaper (Human Resources) won a Chromecast device. 


Corey Bransfield elected as Chair of Education Council

Corey Bransfield, vocational Instructor in the Automotive Service Technician program, has been elected as Okanagan College’s new Education Council Chair. His term will begin on July 1, 2015.

Bransfield joined Okanagan College in the fall of 2000. In addition to teaching in the Automotive Mechanics department, he is a Fellow for the Institute for Learning & Teaching and teaches some Continuing Studies courses. For the past three years he has been involved in the planning process for the annual Connections employee learning conference, including as Chair for the previous two years. In this role he has been recognized for advancing sustainability and innovation.

Bransfield will be acting as Chair-Elect during the upcoming June convocation ceremonies.

Click here for more information on the Education Council.

Okanagan chef an inspiration to those
curious about a culinary education

Jenna PillonOn Thursday May 14, aspiring chefs from the community were given an opportunity to tour the kitchens at Okanagan College as part of the Culinary Open House. Attendees heard from Culinary Apprenticeship Instructor Chef Geoffrey Couper who presented an overview of the programs offered at the College.

College alumna Chef Jenna Pillon, knows all too well the value of education – her culinary training helped her land her dream job at the age of 25. She is the head chef at Hester Creek Winery's Terrafina restaurant in Oliver, recognized as one of the South Okanagan’s most esteemed winery restaurants.

Her culinary career took off rather quickly once she completed her Professional Cook Level 3 Apprenticeship at Okanagan College in 2011. After a two-month stint as a sous-chef, she was promoted to Restaurant Chef at Terrafina.

For Pillon, the best part of the Culinary Arts program at Okanagan College was the opportunity for hands-on learning.

“Learning how to process local wild boar and venison in class was fantastic,” she said. “The College’s instructors are very knowledgeable. They helped me so much with wine knowledge, competition practice and constructive criticism. They try to make you the best cook you can be.”

To learn more about the College’s Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts or Culinary Management programs visit the Food, Wine, and Tourism webpage. Read more about Chef Pillon’s path to success here.

Health Care Assistant student awarded
W. Brett Wilson Prize for creative care project 

Catherine Links awardFor her embodiment of the true spirit of philanthropy in our community, Catherine Links, a Health Care Assistant student at the Penticton campus has been named the recipient of the W. Brett Wilson Prize.
The $750 prize Links received was in recognition of a project she developed to strengthen care-giver/resident connections in complex care situations. A panel of judges selected her essay titled “Furthering Philanthropy,” as the top submission among nearly two dozen proposed philanthropic projects.

The prize was established by the Okanagan College Foundation earlier this year in honour of W. Brett Wilson, well-known Canadian entrepreneur, philanthropist and “Dragon Emeritus” from the CBC show Dragons' Den. Wilson delivered a free lecture at Okanagan College on Jan. 27; he spoke about the importance of giving back.
Links plans to utilize the funds from the prize to develop as many individually tailored care kits as she can.
Read the press release here to learn more about Links’ experience and the inspiration for her essay. Additional information about the W. Brett Wilson Prize and other Okanagan College awards, bursaries, and scholarships, can be found on the website.

May 19, 2015, Vol. 10, Issue 4

Save the dates: Convocation 2015

This June, Okanagan College will celebrate its graduating students at five Convocation ceremonies.

  • Trades Commencement Fri, June 5 @ 6 p.m.
  • Spring Convocation Sat, June 6 @ 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • Vernon Convocation Tue, June 23 @ 4:30 p.m.
  • Summer Convocation Thu, June 25 @ 6 p.m.

For more information about Convocation, visit the website.

College Pension Plan contribution
rate change January 1, 2016

Okanagan College’s pension plan contribution rates are changing on January 1, 2016. To review the upcoming changes, follow this link.

Pension Plans offering more purchase of service options

College and Municipal Pension Plan members are eligible to purchase a leave of absence (or a period of reduced pay) including if they contributed to the plans with a different employer or to another registered pension plan.

This plan rule amendment affects both general and Employment Standards Act leaves ending after March 31, 2015.

For income tax purposes, members who wish to purchase a leave where they contributed elsewhere during the period must apply after April 30 of the year following the end of their leave. The timing for applying to purchase all other leaves has not changed.

Contact Charlene Cornett, Pension and Benefits Coordinator in Human Resources at the College, with any questions. For more information visit the College or Municipal Pension Plan website.

Employee health and wellness newsletter

This month’s The Balance Sheet newsletter looks at establishing and maintaining positive work environments, including communication strategies for problem resolution and how to manage conflict.

On Wednesday May 27, join a webinar titled “A psychologically healthy workplace” which will look at ways to ensure our workplaces are positive work environments. Register here.

Okanagan College’s employee and family assistance provider, Optum PPC Canada, provides information on issues regarding your health and wellbeing.


Connections 2015, register today 

Aug. 18 -19 – The 10th annual Okanagan employee learning conference, Connections 2015, will be held Aug. 18 and 19 at the Kelowna campus (9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
Participants will have the opportunity to hear from President Jim Hamilton to learn about the direction of Okanagan College (and what’s new) and attend workshops on a variety of topics, including LEAN thinking, communicating to a multicultural audience, how to adapt your teaching style and so much more.
Connections provides valuable opportunities to network with colleagues from all four campuses, all while having fun. To register for Connections 2015 click here.
To plan your day, see full descriptions of each workshop on the Workshop Planner.

Annual spring Trunk Sale 

May 23 – The Regional Waste Reduction Office is hosting its Trunk Sale event at the Kelowna campus, from 8 a.m. to noon. More than 150 vendors will sell their goods from the back of their vehicles. The sale aims to promote reuse and recycling. Numerous charities will be on hand accepting donations: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Planet Earth Recycling, the Canadian Diabetes Association and Bibles for Mission. Access to the sale is only available off of Raymer Avenue.


The College’s recognition of four new Honorary Fellows was featured in the Kelowna Daily Courier’s May 8 print edition and was also the focus of the Business Examiner article titled College honours community builders. The Salmon Arm Observer focused its story on Honorary Fellow and local entrepreneur Norm Embree.

The Vernon Morning Star published a photo of Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Tanya Golanowski at Vernon’s Junction Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society’s Spelling Bee. The Okanagan College Egg Heads team won as reported in the accompanying article.

OC student Kaitlyn Kendall’s Social Entrepreneurship class project that explores public art projects with the Downtown Vernon Association was captured in the Vernon Morning Star’s business section.

Penticton campus student Catherine Links receiving the inaugural W. Brett Wilson Prize for her health-care project was reported in the Penticton Herald and also featured in the Okanagan Saturday May 9 print edition. Castanet was also quick to share the award story.

Another student success story, graduating Therapist Assistant Diploma student Melissa Lang’s adaptive running handles invention, continues to garner media interest, this time with an article in the Kelowna Capital News May 8 edition, and the Okanagan Sunday May 10 paper.

The Penticton Herald reported on the provincial government providing funds to the College in support of training and resources to aid students with disabilities.

Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher, as published in the Summerland Review, reported on another government funding announcement that will help create 32 additional Trades seats at the College. The Salmon Arm Observer online also reported the addition of these seats.

Photos and a recap summary of the Trades Tailgate event held at Okanagan College was published in the Okanagan’s Snapd May newspaper.

Salmon Arm resident, and College’s Aircraft Maintenance program student Samantha Wardrop won a bronze medal at the Skills BC competition, a fact reported by the Salmon Arm Observer. Also a bronze medalist, the Summerland Review published OC student’s Nathan Barg success at Skills BC for cabinet-making.

CEO of Kelowna’s Flightcraft, Barry Lapointe - also an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow - was named to the Order of British Columbia, which was the feature of reporter Steve MacNaull’s Okanagan Sunday article Aviation entrepreneur honoured by province, published on May 17.

OC alumna and Terrafina Restaurant chef Jenna Pillon endorsed the College’s Culinary programs. The Penticton Herald shared news of the College’s Culinary Open House and Chef Pillon’s success in their May 13 edition, as did

The College’s Honorary Fellow Rick Pushor and his wife Una Gabie, are honorary chairs of the Daffodil Ball, which this year promises to be an extravagant culinary affair, including with hors d’oeuvres prepared by Okanagan College Culinary instructor Chef Stuart Klassen, as the Kelowna Daily Courier reports both in print and online.

Another College Honorary Fellow in the news: the Vernon Morning Star reported on the Partners in Action committee’s work looking at homelessness in Vernon, including commentary from Annette Sharkey.

The Kelowna Daily Courier reported on the Sandhill Winery dinner that wrapped up the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival. The evening featured wines by winemaker, and College instructor, Howard Soon.

Enactus board member Andrew Greer is one of the Kelowna Daily Courier’s Top Forty Under 40 and was the featured profile of the May 13 print edition.

The Vernon Morning Star shared the details of the 25th anniversary of the math contest organized by Okanagan College retiring Math Professor Clint Lee in its May 1 edition.

On May 6, the Salmon Arm Observer featured the Launch-a-Preneur competition event in an article that recapped details of the 12 business pitches. The event is co-organized by community partners and Okanagan College Enactus students.

The Penticton Western News published a photo of Okanagan College Practical Nursing student Juli Middleton testing Regional Dean Donna Lomas’ blood pressure during the Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business after Business event.

The College’s Coyotes baseball team placed third at the Canadian College Baseball Conference Championships, as reported in the Kelowna Capital News’s May 13 sports pages. The championships’ results were also included in the Southwest Booster’s online edition. Meanwhile, Kamloops This Week online included a mid-championship recap of the competing teams’ standings.

A Valley in Brief note in the Penticton Herald shared that Barb Sheppard will be the new liaison for the School District 67 on the College’s regional advisory committee.

The College looking for land to build the new institution was the news topic 50 years ago, as noted in The Kelowna Daily Courier’s A Look Back at Life in the Okanagan column.

The Penticton Herald corrected that the location of a public forum to discuss the Bill C-51 on May 12 was to be held at the College’s Kelowna campus. Norah Bowman, Okanagan College Interdisciplinary Studies professor is one of the panelist speakers.

Public Affairs Manager Christine Ulmer’s hockey team, the OIC Riders, took top spot in the Women’s Division 2 playoffs of the Pepsi Premier Hockey League, with a photo of the winning team included in the Daily Courier’s Champions May issue.

The Summerland Reporter published a photo of champion of literacy, College Honorary Fellow, and long-time supporter of the College, Yasmin John-Thorpe as she presented writers’ scholarships to high school students in Summerland. The winners will participate in the BC Youth Writers Camp this summer, which Yasmin hosts at the College in Penticton.

Maxine Dehart noted that physiotherapist and College Therapist Assistant Diploma instructor Brett Wade is practicing at the Ekahi Centre in Kelowna in her May 6 Kelowna Capital News column.

For the third time, College Alumna and Olympic medalist Kelsey Serwa was named the City of Kelowna’s Female Athlete of the Year, as reported in the May 6 Kelowna Capital News.

The Kelowna Capital News noticed when Andrew Sheret Ltd made a contribution to the College’s sustainable building plan for the new Trades Complex, as published online.

News of Okanagan College English professor Dr. Alix Hawley's nomination for the award for her novel All True Not a Lie in It was shared by,  and was also picked up by captured the creation of a new award available to College students commemorating renowned author George Ryga’s work in exploring social justice issues. shared the upcoming Regional Waste Reduction Trunk Sale taking place on May 23 at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

As part of the Meadowlark Nature Festival, Okanagan College’s Penticton campus hosted two special exhibits, one on the solar system and the other about finer details of birds. Castanet shared details about these presentations.

Vernon campus’s new track and sports facility, planned to open in late June, is highlighted in a Vernon Morning Star online article about the city seeking support for its bid for the 2017 55-Plus B.C. Games.

Castanet noted that Okanagan College will receive funding from the province to create 152 new seats in its trades program, in an article exploring opportunities for women in the economy, as part of the Catalyst for Growth event to be held in Kelowna on May 22.

Kelowna Daily Courier business reporter Steve MacNaull details the history of UBCO in an online article about the 10th anniversary of the university’s Okanagan campus, including mentioning of how the university took over the OUC campus location near the Kelowna airport.

The Revelstoke Review’s online edition explores LGBTQ issues and creating a safe community with support resources, including the Okanagan College EmbraceBC program to support diversity.

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

To ensure your submission is included, please send all details at least one day in advance of the newsletter’s publication.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on June 2, 2015.