Scotiabank invests in Okanagan College

Scotiabank donationOkanagan College received a $100,000 donation from Scotiabank on Apr. 7 to establish the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence within the School of Business.

The donation will fund applied faculty-led student research projects to identify gaps and develop opportunities for non-profit organizations to improve their sustainability in the areas of leadership development, fundraising, accounting, marketing, evaluation, communications, HR and technology.
“Our School of Business has strong ties with many not-for-profit entities who provide excellent learning opportunities for our students and in turn benefit from their expertise and knowledge,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“Scotiabank’s generous gift acknowledges just how important these partnerships with community organizations are and we thank them for their investment in our students and our college.”
The president and CEO of Scotiabank Brian Porter, Enactus Okanagan president and business student Drew Vincent, and the executive director of Kelowna Community Resources Ellen Boelcke joined President Hamilton at the event. The Dean of Okanagan College's School of Business Dr. Heather Banham was the event's emcee. 
Scotiabank has contributed on average some $50 million annually over the last five years to community causes around the world through its global philanthropic program, Bright Future.

Watch some video from the announcement on Castanet here.

Half Marathon a resounding success 

2014 Race winner Kilmartin Under sunny skies, nearly 400 participants laced up their running shoes and participated in the 12th annual Okanagan College Half Marathon on Apr. 6.

“Today’s race couldn’t have been better,” said Race Director Christine Ulmer. “We had a great mix of elite and amateur runners, each of whom added a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm to this event. I continue to be amazed by the wide range of participants in this race.”

In the end, just 12 seconds separated the winner and second place finisher for the half marathon distance.
Cache Creek’s Ryan Day won the 21.1 km event in a time of 1:11:16 edging out the 2013 winner, Hans Aabye, who finished second. Kelowna’s Jeff Vogt came third in the men’s half marathon division with a finishing time of 1:18:35.
On the women’s side, Salmon Arm’s Sandra Kilmartin came in first with a time of 1:28:56. Michelle Blackburne of West Kelowna came in second at 1:29:45 and Fruitvale’s Heather Johnson placed third at 1:31:26.
In the 10 K race, the top female finishers were: Carrie McGillivray of Kelowna (43:50:05), Chantal Jeffrey of Blind Bay (43:50:40) and Vera Geschiere of Kelowna (45:42).
The men’s 10 K race was swept by Kelowna runners: Jonathan Menzies in first (37:52), Paul Willinsky (38:18), and Ken Byl (40:18.)
The Half Marathon Relay Race was won by the Results 4 Life 2 team (1:24:07). Second in the relay was Re-Lazy (1:40:11.) Third place went to UBCO War Child with a time of 1:40:47.
“This event wouldn’t have been possible without our volunteers. I can’t thank them enough – they make this race really special and we couldn’t do it without them,” says Ulmer.
Complete race results are available online.

Hamilton hosts largest-ever dinner for student ambassadors

President's dinner 2014Okanagan College celebrated student achievements and accomplishments at this year's President’s Dinner for Student Ambassadors, held at Infusions restaurant at the Kelowna campus on Mar. 26.

A total of 166 students, along with 51 of their instructors who served as coaches and mentors, were invited to the annual event. The President's Dinner event dates back to 2007 when Jim Hamilton invited 16 Business students and their coaches to dinner in recognition of their participation in a handful of competitions. This year's dinner included students from Business, Geography, Political Science, Engineering Technologies, and Trades, to name a few.

“This event is one that I look forward to every year,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

"It provides an opportunity to acknowledge the impact our students have outside of their regular classes. They represent our College incredibly well and bringing the group together reminds me of just how much our students and their instructors contribute to our College's well-deserved reputation."

Honours presentations

Jordan LacroixThe Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Hons students presented their research projects on Mar. 28 to students, staff, members of the business community and the general public. Awards and a reception followed the presentations.

The BBA Hons designation is recognized by industry as the highest undergraduate degree someone can earn. Each student worked with a local organization to complete a research project addressing a particular business issue or opportunity that the organization is currently facing. The projects result in several recommendations made to help the organizations move forward.

“The presentations this year were exceptional and were very well received by the clients,” says Dr. Lynn Sparling, Business Professor.

There were five students in the program, four of whom presented during the event.

The student research topics were as follows:
Wes Briggs: “What should Vernon’s brand be?” for the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
Alex Thiessen: “Client satisfaction in B2B software development” for Quadrant
Andrew Edwards: “A rising business segment: the addition of an Event Marketing Program at Okanagan College” for Okanagan College School of Business
Jordan Lacroix: “A wine tourism application in the Okanagan” for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society

Awards were given out after the presentations and Jordan Lacroix (pictured with Robert Fine, director of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission) received accolades for Highest Academic Standing, Best Honours Research Report and Best Presentation.

Campus-wide initiative for Indigenous students

The Aboriginal Access & Services Department has launched the Academy of Indigenous Scholars to start in September. This culturally relevant first year experience program is for first-year Aboriginal students enrolled in university-level courses.

“This program comes from a place of advantage, not disadvantage,” says Director of Student Services James Coble.

“We know these students can be successful and we’re here to facilitate their abilities, help them set goals for themselves and get the most out of their education.”

The program features access to services tailored specifically to the needs of each student, which could include study skills workshops, exam prep, tutoring, peer mentoring, counselling, access to community cultural events, and recreational activities. Acceptance is not based on grade point average, but on the student’s willingness to commit and follow their individual achievement plan. There is no cost to the program, which was funded by a grant from the Vancouver Foundation. Students who fulfil the program’s requirements will receive a $400 bursary at the end of the school year.

Students must apply to be part of the program, which is accepting 30 students – 15 in Kelowna and five from each campus in Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.

For details visit the website.

Five startups vie for $5,000 prize 

Spring Investors Forum winner Venture Okanagan's Spring Investor Forum took place on Apr. 2. A packed house came to the Kelowna campus to watch five investors vie for the $5,000 grand prize and a chance to promote their businesses to the Venture Okanagan community.
“It’s a great venue for developing entrepreneurs,” says Steve Watson, Okanagan College business professor and chair of Venture Okanagan. “On average two to three presenters receive either an equity investment or gain a mentor, which can be just as valuable.”
The five startups presenting at the event were Assessx Technology Ltd., which developed a clinical device to monitor chronic pain; Carrot Analytics, a software company that provides social media insights to businesses wanting to know more personal information about their customers; GreenStep Solutions Inc., which helps small- to medium-sized enterprises measure their environmental impacts; Youneeq, a predictive analytics company that recommends text, ads and video for websites and online media networks; and Soil Mate, an online platform and directory that helps consumers easily source food and drink through local farmers and food producers.
After all the pitches were delivered and the judging panel deliberated, the top prize went to Angela Nagy from GreenStep Solutions.
Venture Okanagan is a partnership between a community of angel investors and Enactus Okanagan College, a non-profit student organization that focuses on a mix of entrepreneurial- and education-based projects in the community. Together they run the Investors Forum, a twice-yearly event sponsored by Grant Thornton and Prospera Credit Union.

Students finish strong at WCBC

WCBC Senior Team 2014Maintaining Okanagan College’s track record of performance excellence, two teams of business students reached the podium at the recent Western Canada Business Competition (WCBC).

The junior and senior teams both finished third overall and two students won awards for their individual performances at the competition, which was held on March 21 to 23 at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

The competition, which attracted 10 teams from institutions across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, challenges students to simulate running a company in growth mode.

WCBC Junior Team 2014“It was intense,” says third-year business student and senior team member, Taylor Dees.

“Understanding how each department’s decisions impacts the business strategy and all the other parts of the company was the most important takeaway for me,” she says.

Okanagan College’s senior team consisted of Alex Fullerton, Nathan Cochrane, Jeff Hayes and Dees, who won best VP of Human Resources for the senior division.

Junior team members were Mark Kuhn, Nick Schrik, Kaylan Wiebe, and Kalan Jones, who won the best VP of Human Resources for the junior division. 


Celebrating the history of people with intellectual disabilities

The Power of Identity croppedAdult Special Education instructor Wanda Radies has just completed a new project to teach people with intellectual disabilities about their history in B.C.

The project resulted in a creation of a textbook called The Power of Identity: The Pride and History of People with Intellectual Disabilities, an instructor’s guide and course outline, all of which will be used for a new course starting in 2015.

“I believe that an unintended consequence of community living and ‘inclusion’ is people with intellectual disabilities are somewhat isolated in the mainstream world,” says Radies of the impetus for the initiative.

“This book is about empowerment and teaches people with intellectual disabilities about their collective history in B.C. in a format they can understand.”

The project was made possible through support from the Innovation Fund and help from students, community members and Okanagan College employees. It will be available through the bookstore. In May, Wanda will be presenting at the Annual Disability Resource Network Conference in Vancouver.

Allison Ramchuk joins the Foundation

Allison RamchukAllison Ramchuk started her new position on Apr. 1 as Development Officer, Advancement, for the Okanagan College Foundation. She has more than seven years of experience building strong relationships in community development and fundraising in the not-for-profit sector. Prior to fundraising, Allison worked in regional advertising as a sales executive and was involved in many community projects as a volunteer.

“Allison's dedication to excellent performance and ability to meaningfully engage all levels of key stakeholders has enabled her to excel in her career and will definitely make her an asset to Okanagan College,” says Kathy Butler, Director, Advancement & Alumni and Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation.

When not working, Allison enjoys the culinary arts, gardening and spending time with her two sons.

Allison is located at the Kelowna campus, in the Centre for Learning, E501D, and can be reached at ext. 4285 or via email. 

Mansiere presents at popular conservation festival

Sharon MansiereThe Meadowlark Nature Festival is one of Canada’s premier outdoor nature celebrations offering 90-plus environmental tours and events led by prominent naturalists, educators, artists, experienced guides and scientists. The festival runs from May 15-19 throughout the South Okanagan region.

One of Okanagan College’s biology professors, Sharon Mansiere will present two talks on May 18 as part of the festival.

The first talk, A Bird in the Hand, explores the many zany patterns, textures, shapes, and colours of birds. Sharon will reveal why some feathers look like one colour when they are in fact another and give attendees a hands-on look at bird species from the Okanagan College Research Museum, currently in development. Ildiko Szabo, Assistant Curator of the Cowan Tetrapod Collection at UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum will be co-presenting. The talk starts at 7 p.m.

The second, Death Trapped: Birds in the Land of Artificial Light examines how the biological adaptations and strategies that have served birds so well in the natural world are now causing them to fly to their doom in a world now cluttered by man-made light. Sharon will be co-presenting this event with Roland Dechesne, a member of the Calgary Chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society and Dark Sky Advocate. This starts at 8 p.m.

Both talks take place at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus lecture theatre and tickets are $10. All proceeds go to support the non-profit Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance, which puts on the festival each year. Visit the website for details.

Culinary Arts instructor retires

Kathryn Neilsen, a long-time Instructor in the Culinary Arts Department retired on Feb. 28.

Kathryn started in 1997 and was the first female instructor to join the Trades faculty of Okanagan University College.

A career chef with a solid background in the Vancouver culinary scene, Kathryn left her Executive Chef position in Vancouver to join the culinary instructional team of Bill Adams, Perry Bentley, Hans Hartmann, Ulirich Hunzicker, Otto Leinemann, Nik Maissen, and Bruno Stass.  

Even in the 1990s, a woman executive chef was a rarity and Kathryn took her responsibility as a role model for women with career aspirations in the professional kitchen seriously.  

She helped develop the talents of many local chefs including Brett Thompson from the Harvest Dining Room, Jeremy Luypen, the Executive Chef at Predator Ridge (who has since returned to the College as a guest instructor), and Ryan Donnalley, who was awarded B.C.’s Apprentice of the Year in 1999.

While Kathryn instructed in all areas of the culinary program at the College, she was passionate about working with apprentices while they finished their apprenticeship, and the development and instruction of the Red-Seal initiative for cooks from the Caribbean.  

While cooking will still figure prominently in Kathryn’s retirement plans, she plans to spend more time enjoying her family.     

April 8, 2014, Vol. 9, Issue 1


Pension Plan beneficiary changes

The College and Municipal Pension Plans have made changes that may allow expanded options for who can be nominated as a beneficiary for pension purposes. Please see the following links for details:

College Pension Plan

Municipal Pension Plan

Employee Transportation Survey

Facilities Management is surveying employees about their transportation and commuting habits to help develop a long-term transportation strategy for Okanagan College. To facilitate this, all employees are being asked to fill in a quick survey. Click here to participate. Deadline is Apr. 9.

Easter Closure

The College will be closed in observance of the statutory holidays on Apr. 18 and Apr. 22.


Science in Society Speaker Series

Apr. 8: What's the Buzz in Bee Biology? Molecular biologist Dr. Leonard Foster will reveal what threats bees are currently facing, why they are so important to agriculture and how research can improve bee health. The event is free, and sponsored by Genome British Columbia. It takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus Lecture Theatre.

For more information about the Science in Society Speaker Series, visit For tickets, call the Okanagan Science Centre at 250-545-3644 or visit

Practical Nursing Open House

Okanagan College in Penticton is holding an information session about its Practical Nursing program on Apr. 9 from 5-6:30 p.m. Applications for the program, which starts in January, are being accepted to July 31. The session takes place at Okanagan College's Penticton Campus, Sunoka Building, Room C6. Contact Jill Smith for details.

Technology in Education Speaker Series

Apr. 15: Language Learning and Teaching in the Model Classroom. Co-presented by the Institute for Learning and Teaching and Education Technology, this event focuses on technology and task-based learning. Task-based learning and teaching combined with technology-enhanced classroom environments have been shown to be an effective partnership for the process of language learning and language acquisition.

Charlotte Jones, Professor, Modern Languages, will look at two of the tools in the model classroom from both the learner’s and the teacher’s perspectives through examples of interactive classroom tasks. This free event takes place at the Kelowna campus, E208, from 4-5 p.m. Visit the TEa website for more information.

Institute for Learning and Teaching

Apr. 22: Lessons from a LOOC: Adventures in Applied Sustainability. Presented by the Institute for Learning and Teaching. Find out how the course was planned, what challenges the creators had, and the lessons they learned. This event takes place from noon to 1 p.m., in B129, Kelowna Campus.

Visit the ILT website for more information.

Health and Wellness resources

Okanagan College’s Employee Family Assistance Provider, PPC Canada, has changed its name to Optum.

In addition to details about this announcement, the April edition of The Balance Sheet newsletter focuses on personal and family finances. Articles include Emergency Funds: Your First Step Toward Financial Health and Ours, Mine and Yours: How Couples Can Successfully Manage Joint Finances. Read it here.

Tune in for this month’s webinar, Planning for a Successful Retirement, on Wednesday, Apr. 30 at noon. Visit the website to register.


Okanagan College’s 2014-15 $92.8 million budget announcement received wide media coverage, see Tuition goes up on Global News, and Okanagan College Announces Fee Hikes on Kiss FM, College boosts tuition fees in the Vernon Morning Star, College approves $92.8 million budget and College Fees rising in the Penticton Herald, College approves $92.8 million budget in the Kelowna Capital News, Tuition hike meets opposition in the Penticton Western News, and Tuition hike included in College budget in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Alumna Marie Walker, a 2013 graduate of the Practical Nursing program, was the subject of a news article in the Penticton Herald, see Local mom launches new career with Practical Nursing program.

Scotiabank made a $100,000 donation to Okanagan College on Apr. 7 to help establish the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence at the Okanagan College School of Business, see Scotiabank donation will send a message to OC business students, Non-profits to get a big boost from college business school, and A big donation for OK college.

The Science in Society speaker series welcomes bee biologist Dr. Leonard Foster at the Vernon campus lecture theatre, see UBC biologist saving the ecosystem one bee at a time.

The Okanagan Indian Band and Okanagan College are working together on a pre-employment program, see Success tailor made for OIB employment program.

Okanagan College's Vice Chair of the Board Connie Denesiuk won't run for a seat on the Okanagan Skaha District School Board in the Nov. election, reports the Penticton Herald, see Denesiuk staying off school board.

Okanagan College signed a MOU with the University of the Fraser Valley in Salmon Arm, see Agreement on agriculture in the Salmon Arm Observer, OC and University of Fraser Valley team up in the Kelowna Capital News, and College inks agreement with Fraser Valley in the Vernon Morning Star.

To respond to its growing Aboriginal Student population across all four campuses, the College has developed a new program, see College sets up academy to help aboriginal students, and Indigenous scholars program starts.

Okanagan College business professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah’s work with an international organization in Croatia was the subject of an article in the Kelowna Capital News, see Business prof empowers East Europe women entrepreneurs.

The business students at Okanagan College held their annual awards banquet on Mar. 25, which was attended by more than 400 people, see Okanagan College business students encouraged to stand up and step out in the Kelowna Capital News.

Okanagan College’s first annual Three-hour Poetry Contest took place on Apr. 3, see Poetry contest at college, Three-hour poetry contest kicks off, and Registration open for OC’s three-hour poetry contest.

The popular B.C. Youth Writers Camp, which takes place at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus in June, is open for registrations, see Camp offered for young writers in the Summerland Review.

Okanagan College's baseball team gets off to a solid start for the new 2014 season, see Coyotes win 2 opening weekend, and Okanagan College Coyotes drop two to defending champs in the Kelowna Capital News.

The Kelowna Capital News also featured an article about Garrett Wiese, who is the Coyotes pitcher and a fourth year Okanagan College business student, see OC Coyotes pitcher Wiese aces the mound and education.

The Okanagan College Half Marathon made headlines, see Okanagan College half marathon will cause some traffic restrictions during event, and Close race in annual half-marathon.

Okanagan College’s Golden Day of Service to mark its 50th anniversary is still making headlines, see OC marks 50th year in the Business & Review Forecast.

Okanagan College’s contribution of cabins to the Agur Lake Camp for children with special needs and their families was included in an article about the camp’s founder Bonnar Dowler in Okanagan Life magazine, see Barrier-free wilderness.

An interview with Top Chef Canada contestant and College Alumna Evelynn Takoff appeared in Okanagan Life magazine, see Farm to table in a whole new way.

Olympian and Okanagan College Alumna Kelsey Serwa was fêted for her recent silver medal accomplishments in Okanagan Life magazine, see Okanagan Heroes.

English professor Alix Hawley will give a reading at the Okanagan Short Story Contest gala on Apr. 22, see Short story winner announced Apr. 22, and Okanagan Short story finalists announced.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Meredith Birchall-Spencer.

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 Apr. 22, 2014.