OC is students' school of choice

studentFor the fourth year in a row, Okanagan College has completed its annual survey to determine student satisfaction with programming, services, facilities and campus life at Okanagan College.

The results are in and the complete survey has been posted online for review. The survey includes data from 485 students – a response rate of 40 per cent. Among the interesting outcomes are the following:
  • 88% of students did not apply to any other institution
  • 89% say that Okanagan College was their first choice
  • 87% feel they will achieve their educational goals
  • 90% agree that the overall learning environment is good
  • 89% would recommend their program or course to other people
  • 92% say that availability of the program is the most important motivation to enrol
The survey also recorded significant improvements in scores for student study space on campus and in the library on the Kelowna campus.
Parking remained an issue for students, especially those in Kelowna and Penticton - 58% disagree that the number of student parking spaces is adequate.

To find out more, review the complete survey conducted by Institutional Research.

ASTTBC bestows first ever organizational TechGREEN award to College

greentechFor the first time in the history of the TechGREEN Awards, an organization has been recognized for its leadership, sustainable best practices, energy conservation and environmental benefit – that organization is Okanagan College.

President Jim Hamilton, Vice President Dr. Andrew Hay and Regional Dean Donna Lomas were at the award presentation in Vancouver to receive the distinguished award from John Yap, Minister of State for Climate Action.

“Our members are fully committed to incorporating and promoting sustainable practices in the workplace and the home,” explained John Leech, Executive Director of ASTTBC. “The Okanagan College Penticton Centre of Excellence project was unsurpassed in this year’s nominations of organizations. TechGREEN Awards recognize and celebrate the best of the best.”

Accepting the award, Hamilton stated, "As partners, we applauded ASTTBC's decision to launch the TechGREEN Award when it was announced. It signals the sector's realization of the importance of embedding sustainability into what we do and say. To be named inaugural winner of the award is flattering, but more importantly, it signals to our staff, students and partners that we're on the right track. It communicates that the investment made in a greener approach to planning and practice is being noticed."

Runners-up in the inaugural TechGREEN Organization Award for 2010 are the BC Housing Corporation and the Abbotsford/Mission City Water and Sewer Commission. To read the complete press release, follow this link.

Thousands visit Career Fair

careerOkanagan College welcomed its largest crowd ever to visit Career Fair when it hosted the 29th annual community event on Sunday, Nov. 7 in Kelowna.

Great weather proved to be key for the numerous outdoor exhibitions and demonstrations that took place (a crowd favorite demo was put on by the automotive service technician department, which blew up a car engine and reminded everyone how important those oil checks are…)

Also new this year to Career Fair was a virtual reality welding simulator that allowed people with little or no experience in the trade to learn what it feels like to work in the trade.

The Community Science Celebration hosted by School District 23 and Science World was back for the second year in a row with demonstrations and science exhibits that filled the atrium of the Centre for Learning.

More than 50 exhibitors took part in the day’s events and a few thousand people stopped by to find out about career and educational opportunities at Okanagan College and beyond. Watch a slide show of images from the event.

Every minute counts in new writing contest

3hrAppreciating that diamonds are formed under intense pressure, Okanagan College’s English department is hoping a new three-hour story writing competition to be held this month will produce some glittering literary treasures.

“We are challenging high school and Okanagan College writers to put themselves in the hot seat for 180 minutes of pressure to produce,” said Sean Johnston, one of the English department professors organizing the contest, which will be held Nov. 20 simultaneously at the College’s Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton campuses.

“Having that limited time frame to work within can provide the spark that will ignite creation of a great story.”

The contest is open to all Grade 11 and 12 students and to Okanagan College students as well. Five prizes are available for the budding writers: one $250 tuition credit at each of the campuses and a prize of a $500 tuition credit for the judges’ choice of overall winner.

The three-hour writing contest will start at noon, will be conducted in Okanagan College computer labs, and will require the writers to include a phrase or prompt (that will only be revealed as the contest is about to begin) that will have to feature prominently in the stories that are developed over the three hours.

To ensure the focus of the contest is individual creativity and imagination, the contest rules also preclude use of outside sources – either online or hard copy.

Registration for the competition closes Nov. 19 at noon – those willing to step up to the challenge can register online or get more information at:

Venture Okanagan takes its first step with support from SIFE & Okanagan College

VOA new resource for entrepreneurs and the investors interested in backing them was launched at Okanagan College last week.

Venture Okanagan held its first investor forum on Thursday giving five aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a room of more than 80 potential investors and supporters.

Venture Okanagan is SIFE Okanagan’s latest business project – an angel investor forum aimed at introducing start-up entrepreneurs to early stage investors and mentors who can help them commercialize their ideas.

“SIFE wanted to give aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their ideas to the community,” said Dr. Kyleen Myrah, faculty mentor for SIFE. “Many golden ideas have fallen through the cracks and SIFE created this project to address the issue.”

Five entrepreneurs pitched products and services that ranged from Von Mynheer Automotive’s prototype of an electric car to Vampt Beverage Corp’s new cooler.

“Not only did the presentations look sharp, but the deals presented were very promising,” said Steve Watson, professor in the Okanagan School of Business and Chair of the Investment Review Committee for Venture Okanagan. “Prior to showcasing their ideas at the forum the entrepreneurs had a chance to gain feedback and advice from SIFE, Okanagan College faculty and other mentors and it was great to see them make use of it.”

Other entrepreneurs who presented included Awesense Wireless providing hardware and software solutions for utility companies; VP Innovations providing environment monitoring and management services and WTFast providing software to enhance user experience in the online gaming industry.

 “The event was a great success,” said Raghwa Gopal, President of Okanagan Angel Network and SIFE Business Advisor. “With all the great feedback received, we can build on this and take advantage of the momentum going forward to future forums.”

BC Colleges urged to collaborate for solutions

When more than 50 leaders from B.C.'s Colleges gathered in Vancouver at the start of the month, they heard a strong message about their vital role and the need to work together to help B.C. and the country solve a large and pending issue: the skills shortage. The message came from a College grauate who has built one of Canada's largest construction firms and who has become a strong advocate for the College system: Paul Charette, of Bird Construction. You can read the BC Colleges press release here.

Community shows support for Coyotes Athletics

coyotesThe Okanagan College Coyotes hosted their inaugural athletic fundraising breakfast on Thursday, Oct. 28. The event was held at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna and featured emcee Ryan Watters and keynote speaker Glenn Anderson – a six-time Stanley Cup winner and NHL Hall of Fame hockey player.

More than 100 people attended the event, which raised a few thousand dollars for the student athletes and their programs.

SIFE students organize Trick or Eat

sifeWhile many people in the valley spent all hallow’s eve gorging on candy and treats, students from SIFE Okanagan went door to door in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon collecting food in a new valley-wide campaign to battle hunger – Trick or Eat.

The SIFE students, whose mission is to create positive economic, environmental and social change in the Okanagan Valley, came up with the Trick or Eat food drive as part of their involvement in the Campbell’s Soup Let’s Can Hunger initiative. SIFE Okanagan won the Campbell’s Soup challenge last year and was recognized as the country’s top post-secondary institution at the national competition. 

As national reigning champions of the Let’s Can Hunger project, SIFE Okanagan leaders Aman Sandhu and Jessica Zucchi organized teams of students in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, along with support from The Juice 103.9, and went door to door collecting non-perishable items.

When the night was over the students had collected 1,434 pounds of food for local Food Banks during the one-day Halloween food drive. The students approached SHAW and Campbell’s -- who are currently running a Fill the Food Bank campaign as part of their Together is Amazing initiative -- with their total and both organizations matched the donations, tripling the amount of food collected for a total of 4,302 pounds. 

All food items collected have been donated to their respective Food Banks in the communities of Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton. SIFE Okanagan is now planning for their next major fundraisers – a charity hunger gala on Feb. 4 at Okanagan College and Canstruction Kelowna, an event designed to help end hunger one can at a time. brings professional development opportunities

Okanagan College staff now have access to more than 900 online courses and training opportunities thanks to a joint initiative between OCAD, IT Services and the Library. The three groups have come together to purchase 10 licenses to – a comprehensive and sophisticated website with hundreds of up-to-date online training seminars.

Employees can request a license by completing an online service request (these can be found in myOkanagan under the employee tab just below the IT Service Request form). For the time being, access will be provided in one-week increments, to ensure as many employees as possible have the opportunity to access the site. By filling out a request form, staff will join a waitlist in the order in which their request was received.

A license is not required to view the site and search for training opportunities. Go online to to find out more. This training is free for staff and staff are encouraged to discuss professional development with their supervisors.

BC Teal conference highlights

tealThe BC Teal (Teaching English as an Additional Language) Interior Conference was successfully held on Oct. 16. More than 150 ESL educators, TESOL students, ESL tutors and many others came to the conference,  doubling past attendance records. Okanagan College’s Dr. Ann McKinnon presented the keynote address with Dr. Luis Aguiar from UBCO. In addition, several College staff presented workshops including Arch Doody, Donna McGrath, Karen Rauser, Tracy Riley and Leah Sanford. 

The theme of the conference was Cultural Kaleidoscope and highlights included a TESL student poster session contest, an engaging and thought-provoking cultural panel, an inspirational presentation by Nick Arkle on education in developing countries, and several sessions that explored practical ways ESL can be taught in a variety of settings. 

The conference ended with a wine and culture reception featuring some amazing international foods from the OC International Cookbook (available for purchase at the International Education Office and campus bookstores) and cultural performances from Jamaica and the Middle East. The conference ran so smoothly, thanks to the tremendous effort of the planning committee and a small army of 45+ international student volunteers. 


Employees recognized for 1,543 years of service

emprecOn Wednesday, Nov. 3 Okanagan College hosted its annual Employee Recognition Ceremony, where the contributions of long-serving employees were honoured as well as those who retired from Okanagan College. 

At this year’s ceremony:

15 retirees were recognized
26 people marked 10 years of service
20 people marked 15 years of service
25 people marked 20 years of service
5 people marked 25 years of service
3 people marked 30 years of service
1 person marked 35 years of service

And, for the first time, we recognized an employee for 40 years of service to the institution. Congratulations Erika Henfling (seen above with Board Chair Lance Kayfish and President Jim Hamilton).

Ninety-two employees from every region, every faculty and almost every department at the college marked significant milestones in service in 2010 and the event celebrated 1,543 years of combined service to Okanagan College. Watch the next issue of Inside Okanagan College for a library of images from the event.

PACE student joins staff at Salmon Arm Campus  

robbieRobbie Gallipeau, a second-year PACE (Preparing for Access to Careers and Employment) student in the ASE department in Salmon Arm, has been hired as the campus’s new recycler. Prior to Robbie taking on the role, campus custodians had informally taken care of the recycling.

After attending an event put on by the Shuswap Association for Community Living, Regional Dean Jim Barmby put in a request to employ one of the students in the Adult Special Education program to assist with the recycling duties on campus.

Robbie began his job Monday, October 25. Under the supervision of Lee Johnson, he works two afternoons a week collecting recycling, and emptying half-filled coffee cups. He can be seen around the campus with his Okanagan College shirt and a big smile.

Help celebrate Faith Peyton's retirement

After serving Okanagan College for 30 years, Faith Peyton is retiring from her position as Library Assistant, Reference and Interlibrary Loan. Stop by the Kelowna Campus Library on Friday, Dec. 3 between 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. to wish her well and also enjoy some refreshments and goodies. 

Drop by anytime to the main library counter at the Kelowna Campus Library to add your best wishes to Faith’s memory book or email them to Michelle by Nov. 30.

Penticton campus has a Taste of India

A Taste of India was back at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College offering up culinary and cultural delights. Surandar Dasanjh prepared a feast of traditional Indian food, which was enjoyed by more than 110 students and staff. The event, which took place on Nov. 2, also included lunchtime entertainment from local belly dancers.

Who is that guy and why is he holding a rubber chicken?

rwDespite the fact that Halloween fell on a Sunday this year, employees at every campus of Okanagan College took the opportunity to wear funny, scary, creative, creepy and cute costumes to work on Friday in support of the United Way.

A Halloween fundraising barbeque was held at the Kelowna campus with Regional Dean Heather Schneider grilling up lunch for hungry staff and students. In case you missed seeing your colleagues dressed up, take a look at the Halloween 2010 slide show.
Nov. 9, 2010 Vol. 4 Issue 16


Employees can access Office 2010 for home

IT Services is announcing a new service for employees that will allow staff to download a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 for use on their home computer. The new agreement with Microsoft replaces the work-at-home program, which allowed employees to purchase a copy of Office through the Bookstore.

The installation process is done at home and employees will be charged $11 for the download (payable by credit card online). A step-by-step guide and FAQ fact sheet are provided to make the process smooth. Please note that the FAQ was developed earlier this year and refers to Office 2007 –the version currently available is 2010.

There is a limit to the total number of copies Microsoft will provide – it is based on faculty and staff FTE, which for the current year is 655. The download is provided on a first come, first serve basis. The process has been tested by IT Services and reportedly requires 650 MB of space for the download. 

Pay it Forward back for fifth year

Okanagan College in Kelowna is taking part in its annual giving drive, Pay it Forward. Donations of clean and gently used warm winter clothing for adults and children, non-perishable food items, unused toiletries and cash donations are being accepted at the Kelowna Campus until Dec. 13.

Look for large donation boxes wrapped in colourful paper around campus – items can be placed in the boxes until Dec. 13. Donations will be delivered to the Kelowna Gospel Mission and In from the Cold.

On the final day of the giving drive, Dec. 13, student volunteers will serve hot chocolate, coffee and snacks to those who donate that morning.

Notice for Centre for Learning users

The Atrium of the Centre for Learning will be used for exams on Saturday, Dec. 11 between 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tables will be set up in the Atrium on Dec. 10 and will remain in place until the following Monday, Dec. 13.    

Kelowna campus ping pong tourney kicks off

Campus Rec is hosting a ping pong tournament in the PIT from Nov. 22 – 26.
Compete for the right to call yourself the Okanagan College ping pong champ. Games will take place every afternoon from 11:30 – 1 p.m. and are best out of three (games should take approximately 30 minutes in total). Register for this free event by emailing Lynn Johnson.

Auditions open for The Beaux’ Stratagem

The English department is holding auditions for anyone interested in being a part of an eighteenth-century comedy called The Beaux' Stratagem next semester.   

Auditions for George Farquhar's The Beaux' Stratagem will take place in the lecture theatre in the Student Services Building on the Kelowna campus at the following times:

Thursday, Nov. 18 6 – 8 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 19, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 2 – 5 p.m.

All Okanagan College students and employees are welcome to audition. Auditioning actors will be asked to perform selections from the play; they will not be required to memorize monologues.

Rehearsals will take place in January and February, and performances will take place in early March. 

For more information, visit: or email Jeremy Beaulne.

The Twelve Days of Fitness Individual Challenge

Campus Recreation has come up with yet another fun and fitness-filled challenge for staff. Join colleagues in the Twelve Days of Fitness Individual Challenge from Monday Dec. 6 – 16. Participants will be challenged with various activities that will help keep those unwanted holiday pounds away. 

Each person will be asked to complete various tasks for each of the 12 days of the fitness challenge.
Think you have what it takes to be a challenge superstar? Register at the Campus Rec office or by e-mail, on or before December 3.

Challenge Starts:  Monday December 6

Challenge Ends:   Friday December 16

Great prizes will be awarded to all of those who can complete this challenge.

Campus Store Customer Appreciation Sale

Okanagan College Campus Stores will be holding a series of customer appreciation sales at each campus on the following dates:

Penticton – Monday, Nov. 15

Salmon Arm – Tuesday, Nov. 16

Vernon – Wednesday, Nov. 17

Kelowna – Thursday, Nov. 18

The sale will offer customers 20 per cent off regular prices - some exclusions apply.

50/50 winner announced

Congratulations to Tanya Tarlit from Co-Op Education in Kelowna who won the Nov. 5 payday draw for $595 (the largest amount won to date).

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 Dawn Douglas (Local 4774) in the Advancement & Alumni/Okanagan College Foundation office (located in P103, KLO Campus), from Human Resources.


Nov. 15 - Kalamalka Speakers Series - Restorative Justice with Margaret Clarke, Restorative Justice Coordinator.

Restorative Justice is part of the extrajudicial measures that were included in the Youth Criminal Justice Act in 2003 as a result of people searching for alternatives in dealing with young people in conflict with the law. Classroom A204 12:30-1:20 p.m.

Nov. 15 - Penticton Speaker Series – 7 p.m. Lecture Theatre – Crazy Heart (Film)
Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for his moving performance in Crazy Heart, the story of a country music star's rocky road to redemption. Bad Blake is a boozy, broken-down singer who reaches for salvation with the help of Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the music. Oscar-winning music by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett make this film worth watching on the big screen.

Nov. 22 - Penticton Speaker Series – 7 p.m. Lecture Theatre – How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Ron Spence

It was the summer of 2010, and with his 1957 Travel trailer, “PeeDee,” retired Okanagan College business professor Ron Spence recorded, journalized, drew, and observed dragon boating, music festivals, scenery, and Seniors’ Games. Those of you who have heard Ron tell his stories about being stranded in the Arctic, travelling behind the former Iron Curtain, or interviewing an 86 year-old restaurant owner who holds the Order of Manitoba will enjoy his irreverent and entertaining observations from this year’s travels.

Nov. 29 - Penticton Speaker Series – 7 p.m. Lecture Theatre – Extrasolar Planets: The Search for Other Worlds, Roland Kothes (DRAO)

Eight planets are orbiting around our sun…but how many are orbiting around those billions of other stars in our galaxy? Astronomer Roland Kothes will give a brief overview of the short history of exoplanet discoveries, describe the methods we use to detect planets, and look a little bit into the future and discuss the possibility of discovering an earth-like planet.

Nov. 29 – Kalamalka Speaker Series – Eat your Greens! The Power of Outdoor Learning with Dr. Veronica Gaylie. Join Gaylie for a discussion based on the experience of creating a Learning Garden in an interdisciplinary, higher education program. The talk will focus on the practical and pedagogical benefits of experiential learning at the college level, while touching on the many urgent – and global - reasons why a student-land connection is now needed at all levels of learning.

Gaylie is a professor, poet and founder of The Learning Garden at The University of British Columbia. She is also the author of The Learning Garden: Ecology, Teaching and Transformation (Peter Lang, 2009). Classroom A204 12:30-1:20 p.m.


President Jim Hamilton was a featured guest on CBC Radio’s All Points West series after playing a key role in a summit meeting of B.C.’s 11 colleges (Jim is currently the president of the BC College Presidents group). Listen to the segment in which Jim talks about the role of colleges in addressing the skills gap, pending labour shortage and the need for colleges to collaborate. 

Alumnus Shane Koyczan performed at the Vernon Performing Arts centre in Vernon in October with his band the Short Story Long. John Lent shared some insight into Shane as a student in A way with words, from the Vernon Morning Star.

The Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus took home the Institutional Community, Green, and Judges’ Choice awards at the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Commercial Building Awards in October. Read more in Centre of Attention.

The Centre of Excellence at the Penticton campus won the GreenTech award from the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians on B.C. last Saturday. The award recognizes and celebrates sustainable best practices, energy conservation and environmental benefit. Read more in Okanagan College takes first GreenTech Award.

Career Fair at the Kelowna Campus took place November 7. Read about this year’s event in the Okanagan Saturday's front-page coverage Job seekers dive into college, Career path could be revealed tomorrow, and Fair offers up-close look at 21st century careers. CHBC was on campus to film the event, they focused on job-seekers and opportunities for employment.

Venture Okanagan, the new creation of the Okanagan School of Business and SIFE, is a Dragons Den-like program which has partnered with investors in the valley to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs here at home. Read more in Venture Okanagan is founded, Okanagan’s own ‘Dragons Den’, Opening business doors, Venture Okanagan, and College keeps entrepreneurs from falling through the cracks.

The Regional District of the South Okanagan was asked once again by the fundraising committee for the Centre of Excellence to consider contributing to the campaign. Read more in RDOS should support College.

George Ryga week was celebrated this year bringing the ceremony for the eighth annual George Ryga awards for Social Justice back to Ryga’s home town of Summerland. Read more in Ryga remembered and Ryga week marked.

The Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Writing and Publishing was announced on Saturday night. In the days leading up to the announcement CBC Radio’s Marion Barschel toured the Ryga house in addition to airing excerpts from the finalists. Listen to a passage from 1,000 dreams or listen to John Lent read from Where the Blood Mixes.

In support of the George Ryga Centre, the Contenders toured the valley once again. They wrapped up their tour at the Vernon campus on Saturday, Nov. 6. Read more in Contenders visit valley for 10th year.

Okanagan College’s Spread the Word contest, which is inviting students to create a poster or design a web video to help spread the word about the diploma in Media and Cultural Studies, received coverage in the press. Read about the contest in: College offers web contest.

Heather Schneider, Regional Dean for the Central Okanagan, is wearing a second hat these days as she leads volunteers in the community to make the International Children’s Winter Games a reality in Kelowna this January. Read an interview with her (written by Christine Ulmer - who is helping the Games’ communications efforts) about the planning in Close-up with Heather Schneider.

In Jane Muskens' weekly School’s In column she discussed education as a worthy investment in times of economic depression and how taking the initiative to go back to school later in life is worth the risk, especially if one career has ended. Read more in: Stability comes with education and More schooling can always be an option for adults.

Jim Barmby, Regional Dean of the Shuswap Revelstoke recently presented an update on the college town plan to Salmon Arm’s city council. Ideas relating to creating community spaces within new spaces as well as transforming the programming and an emphasis on recruitment were included in the presentation. Read more in College town idea proceeds.

Search and Rescue is looking for more volunteers in the Central Okanagan. They held a meet and greet on the Kelowna campus on Nov. 4. Read more in Search and rescue looking for volunteers.

Catch up on the Coyotes hockey team season - last weekend the team had a win and then the next night lost to UVic. Read more in Coyotes rise to 6-1 and Coyotes miffed over weekend split.

Stan Chung, former Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational, discussed meditative change and paradigm shifts in his recent Global Citizen column. Read more in Leading from the future as it emerges.


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, Nov. 23, 2010.