Agreement links Chinese school district, SD23 and OC

China agreementA new partnership that spans the Pacific connects School District 23 and Okanagan College with one of the largest educational districts in one of the busiest cities in the most populous country on earth.

This week, School District 23 Superintendent Kevin Kaardal, Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Dongbiao Zeng, Director of the Education Bureau of Tianhe District in China, signed a Memorandum of Co-operation that will facilitate student and instructor exchanges and cultural development between the three partners.

The agreement follows on earlier agreements signed by the Province of British Columbia and Guangdong Province. The first sister provinces agreement was signed in 1995 and was followed by more detailed agreements in 2011 and 2016. The last inter-provincial agreement focused on two-way educational exchange and promotion.

“This commitment to co-operate opens the doors between ourselves and the Educational Bureau of Tianhe District,” notes Hamilton. “With this in place we can work to facilitate Chinese students from this region finding a receptive school district and college in the Okanagan, and our students finding educational opportunities in one of the world’s global economic nodes.”

“The signing among the Central Okanagan School District, Okanagan College, and Tianhe is going to not only boost the synergy on research and development of high quality international education programs, but it will also help teachers and students from both countries to blend in each other’s education culture, in order to set up a new strategic education cooperation pattern,” explains Dongbiao Zeng, the Director of the Education Bureau of Tianhe District.

Read the full story here.

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Review

Sexual Violence Policy ImageIn June 2016, Okanagan College approved and implemented its Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy.

This policy was introduced after careful review of best practices in policy development and other post-secondary institutions’ policies, and consideration of new provincial government legislation.

Okanagan College’s Sexual Violence Policy Committee is now engaged in a review process to examine the policy and to meet the legislative three-year review requirement.

It is recognized that most students and employees will not have reason or cause to use this policy, however your review is very important and we welcome your feedback.

The Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy can be found here. Visit to give your feedback. No identification is required and all information will be kept confidential. As such, there will not be any direct replies to comments submitted through this form. Please provide feedback by Jan. 28, 2019.

For more information on Okanagan College’s sexual violence processes and protocols, please see

Related policies include the Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment policy, the Safe Disclosure policy, and the Threatening Behavior and Violence policy – click here to view the Policy webpage.

OC profs ease student costs with free online texts

Okanagan College professors are helping to turn a new page in the rising costs of post-secondary education, giving students free access to online textbooks.

An online solution to lower post-secondary students’ costs is spreading at Okanagan College. Open Educational Resources – also known as OER – are high-quality resources (notably in the form of open textbooks) that are available in digital formats and at a very low cost to print.

The latest provincial statistics show Okanagan College ranks sixth in the province for open textbook adoption. By fall 2018, the College reported 147 courses that have adopted open textbooks, helping 2,875 students to save $437,212 (those numbers are up from 95 courses using online texts, 1,673 students impacted and a savings of $248,522 only a year ago). Many professors have committed to continue using and expanding their use of online texts at each of the College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm.

Not only do e-texts bring serious savings they also offer a custom approach to teaching and learning. Professors can annotate the online texts, leaving detailed notes, highlights, comments and provide specialized information. Students can choose to access the text online or can choose to have it printed from the College’s bookstore.

“It is fabulous to see initiatives like this become a reality,” says Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President, Education. “Student success is of the utmost importance to Okanagan College and the combination of better student learning with reduced costs is most welcome.”

Read the full story here.

Connections Survey

Connections surveyThe Connections planning committee would like your feedback to help plan next year’s event. Employees can fill out the online survey to share suggestions and ideas for future Connections conferences. A highlight of the conference is always the Connections video shown during the President’s address. If you were unable to attend, you can watch it here.

Celebrating India for Cross-Cultural Event

Taj MahalAnyone with an interest in India is welcome to attend an interactive exploration of Southeast Asian culture and history delivered by students from the region.

Cross-Cultural Awareness: India is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 12:15 p.m. in the Trades Building Atrium in Kelowna. The event is free and open to all OC faculty and staff. 

“This is a great opportunity for students and employees to learn first-hand about places they may have never visited,” says Petya Whelan, OC Marketing and Recruitment Specialist with International Education. “It also helps our students meet the OC community and explain why they chose to come to Canada.”

This is the third presentation in the International Education department’s successful cross-cultural awareness initiative. The series kicked off in September with a presentation on Brazil, and continued in October with a presentation on Japan.

For information, read the poster.


Gillett creates award for global education

Bill Gillett - Giving TuesdayBusiness students at Okanagan College will have the opportunity to take their education to new heights thanks to an award established by Bill and Kathy Gillett. Bill is the Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business.

The Gilletts have committed $20,000 to create the Okanagan School of Business Dean's Scholarship. The scholarship will provide two annual awards of $2,500 to third- or fourth-year business students who choose to study at one of Okanagan College’s 16 partner institutions around the world.

“Business is global, and I think it’s so important for students to have a multi-cultural experience,” says Bill. “I'd like to help students gain a better understanding of the world, especially if they haven’t had that opportunity.”

Bill, who joined the Okanagan School of Business in 2017, has been travelling and meeting with Okanagan College’s partner institutions to learn more about their programs. He says he’s impressed by the quality of the faculty, as well as expanding options for students to receive a dual degree.

Bill made his announcement today, Nov. 27, as part of Okanagan College Foundation's Giving Tuesday campaign. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is a global day to remind people of the opportunity to participate in philanthropy, and to celebrate the positive effects that giving has on individuals and causes.

Read the full story here. 

Kushner announces retirement

KushnerOkanagan College’s Vice President Students, Charlotte Kushner, has announced she will retire at the end of April 2019, marking the end of a 32-year career that began as a Continuing Studies Program Administrator with Okanagan College in 1986.

“Charlotte has been a big part of what has made Okanagan College a model of success in the nation’s post-secondary sector,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “She often tells the story of coming to the College to teach with a plan to stay five years. That, apparently, didn’t work out. We’ve been the beneficiaries of her frequent reassessment of that initial plan.”

Hamilton points to Kushner’s involvement in various provincial and national groups and agencies over her recent career and observes that she is rightfully perceived as a source of insight and experience. Her most recent appointment was to College’s and Institutes Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

“This wasn’t an easy decision for me and it will be hard for me to say goodbye,” says Kushner. “The length of my service should tell you that I believe in this institution and the people who make it what it is. It has been a privilege for me to be a part of the institution’s significant growth and accomplishments.”

Watkins joins as new Manager, Security and Crisis Management

Doug WatkinsDoug Watkins joined the College on Nov. 26 as the College’s new Manager, Security and Crisis Management. Watkins will be working alongside Arch Doody until his retirement from that same position on Nov. 30.

Watkins has been a police officer with the Abbotsford Police Department since 2008, working as a patrol officer and as a school liaison in the Fraser Valley. During this time, he also conducted emergency response training with the University of the Fraser Valley.

During his time with the Abbotsford Police Department, Watkins was the Coordinator/Lead instructor for the Junior Police Academy as well as an Instructor/Associate Leader for the Abbotsford Police Reserve Program.

He attended the University of Alabama and received his Bachelor degree in Science & Business Administration with Honours in Accounting. Prior to becoming a police officer, he worked in a variety of financial roles.

Watkins enjoys hockey and is looking forward to returning to Kelowna, where he was born and raised.

Lindy Monahan joins OC as Health and Safety Advisor

Lindy MonahanThe Health and Safety Department welcomed a new Health and Safety Advisor, Lindy Monahan, on Nov. 19.

Monahan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, having worked as a prevention officer with WorkSafeBC for the past 10 years. Monahan has also spent a considerable amount of time working in the construction sector. She is a ticketed journeyperson joiner (cabinet maker), heavy equipment operator and has a strong background in plumbing and gas fitting.

She was previously employed at Okanagan College as a joinery instructor in construction trades and has been a long-time supporter and mentor for Women in Trades at OC.

Monahan has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, built her own home, and loves travel and spending time in the outdoors camping, hiking, biking, boating, kayaking and sledding.

Director of Public Affairs ‘Gives a Damn’

Coyle Obi-Wan KenobiAllan Coyle, Director of Public Affairs, has been awarded the Give a Damn trophy for being the employee who visited the Penticton campus the most in 2017.

The internal challenge got its inception in 2005 when OUC became Okanagan College. It started with a promise that management would visit the other campuses as much as possible. It was decided that a formal tally would keep track of the visits and a trophy – in a light-hearted vein – would be given each year. This this year’s trophy is an Obi-Wan Kenobi doll, complete with an OC-red lightsaber.

“We started a ‘Visiting the Penticton campus and South Okanagan Similkameen Region’ chart and all employees kept their word, diligently logging their trips,” says Deborah Cutt, OC Library Assistant. “It’s quite the challenge and every year we count everything twice and there is plenty of friendly heckling, which makes the challenge really fun.”

As for 2018, Coyle is currently in the lead with 11 trips followed closely by Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton with 10 trips. A late addition to the race was Russell Boris, Director, International Education, who is hot on Coyle and Hamilton’s heels with seven trips.

Long Night Against Procrastination a success in Penticton

Long Night in PentictonAnother successful Long Night Against Procrastination was held at the Penticton campus on Nov. 22 where more than 50 students buckled down from 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. to finish major school projects, homework and studying.

“The idea is to gather students who have these end-of-semester projects and assignments and who are up against big deadlines,” says Eva Gavaris, OC Librarian. “Faculty and staff are there to help students with questions about research, writing and citing and they also keep students motivated throughout the night.”

The event gives students mind-breaks throughout the evening with prize draws, pizza, coffee, snacks and stress-busting activities. The event happens every semester, approximately two weeks before the end of term.

Floral Design students help deck the halls

Floral StudentsEleven students from Okanagan College’s Floral Design program added a dash of holiday cheer to their studies, creating elaborate Christmas floral arrangements for the popular Homes for the Holidays tour.

The Homes for the Holidays event is a self-guided tour of seven private homes in Kelowna decorated for Christmas and featuring artists, tastings and music along the way. Homes are assigned teams – including florists, interior designers and event planners – who work together to style the house in the latest holiday décor trends. It is the first time Okanagan College has supported the tour, providing invaluable training for students.

“They’ve been required to work in a team with real clients, real deadlines and also real pressure. This is a high-profile community event where people go all-out. The exposure has been great for students and is really building their self-esteem,” explains OC Floral instructor, Kathy Neufeld.

The team put its talents to use decorating the historical G.D. Loane House located on Abbott Street, with interior and exterior garlands, potted plants, outdoor planters, chandelier dressings, flowers for all rooms and a Christmas tree. The students were joined by two Okanagan College Floral Design alumni who came back to the classroom to help with the arrangements and offer mentorship.

“It’s so humbling to be invited back into the classroom to help with special projects like this one and also to talk with the students,” says Alana Pidwerbeski, a Floral Design graduate (2016) and owner of Wild Ginger Floral Design.

Proceeds from the sellout event went to the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

Nov. 27, 2018, Vol. 12, Issue 23


Planned power outage and Kelowna campus partial closure – Dec. 2

In preparation for construction of the new Health Sciences Building, maintenance, testing, and inspection work on the Kelowna campus’s high-voltage power system will require a partial campus closure on Sunday, Dec. 2.

The following buildings will be closed for the day:

  • Lab (C)
  • Students Services (S & A)
  • Cafeteria (F) 

Classes and events scheduled for Dec 2 have been moved to alternate locations in the CFL, Health, Business and Trades buildings. Affected students and employees will be notified either by e-mail, their supervisors, and/or the Regional Dean’s office.

Emergency power will be operational for all life safety systems and IT server rooms.

If you are an instructor who has classes or workshops scheduled for Dec. 2 that have not been rescheduled or cancelled, please contact your direct supervisor.

All buildings are expected to re-open and regular campus activities are scheduled to resume at 7 a.m. on Dec. 3. Notice of any further disruption will be communicated by email and posted to the College's alerts page.

2019-20 Budget Town Hall meetings

All Okanagan College employees are invited to attend a Town Hall meeting regarding the 2019-20 budget. There will be a session held at each campus and will be led by Curtis Morcom, Vice President Employee and Corporate Services. 

Morcom will provide an update on the OC budget for the upcoming fiscal year and staff will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the budget information presented. The College’s budget will be presented to the Board of Governors for consideration at the end of March 2019.

Penticton campus- Mon, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. (PC 120)

Salmon Arm campus- Tue, Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. (SA 136)

Vernon campus- Tue, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. (E 102/103)

Kelowna campus- Wed, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. (Infusions Restaurant) 

Coffee and cookies will be provided at each Town Hall meeting.

Winter Convocation

Faculty and instructors are invited to participate in the Winter Convocation ceremonies on Saturday, Jan. 12 by leading graduands in the processional. If you would like to attend a ceremony, please e-mail Michelle Lowry noting the ceremony you wish to attend. If you require regalia please include your height and highest awarded credential (i.e. 5’11”, MSc, U of Calgary). 

  • Morning ceremony at 10 a.m. – Arts & Foundational, Science, Technology and Health grads
  • Afternoon ceremony at noon – Business grads only

If you’d like to watch the ceremonies but cannot attend in person, tune into the College’s Facebook page to watch the livestream for each ceremony.

Infusions Restaurant (Kelowna campus)

Reservations can now be made through OpenTable
View lunch and dinner menus online.

Hours Nov. 15 – June, 2019:
Lunch: Mon – Fri, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Dinner: Tues – Fri, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Need floral arrangements for your OC event?

Are you planning an OC event and need floral arrangements? The College’s Floral Design program can help meet your needs and has wholesale prices. For more information, contact Kathy Neufeld.

Fitness Facility hours – Kelowna campus

From Dec. 1 – 14 the Fitness Facility will be open Mon-Fri from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and closed for the weekends. After Dec. 14, the Fitness Facility will be closed for the holiday season, reopening on Mon, Jan. 7 at 6 a.m. 

Municipal Pension Plan Members – new pension information

Are you a Municipal Pension Plan Member? Please see the communique detailing how the Municipal Pension Board of Trustees is allocating your contributions to strengthen the plan’s inflation funding effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Learn about your Pension Plan

Wondering how being a member of the plan, returning from paternal leave, getting a separation or divorce, changing jobs or choosing a pension option could affect your future? Find answers to your pension questions through a free member education.

Please note: space for the two-hour workshops is limited to 35 seats and workshops fill up quickly. Register at your earliest convenience to secure your seat.

Making the Most of Your Pension is a two-hour workshop that can help you maximize your pension by understanding how the decisions you make throughout your career affect your pension when you retire. Visit the College Pension Plan website or the Municipal Pension Plan website for more information and to register your seat.

Approaching Retirement is a two-hour workshop designed to help you understand the important decisions you need to make about your pension and make the transition easier. Visit the College Pension Plan website or the Municipal Pension Plan website for more information and to register your seat.

Getting to Know Your Pension is a 15-minute online learning session that introduces you to the value and benefits of membership. This session benefits new and potential members. Visit the College Pension Plan website or the Municipal Pension Plan website to take the online learning course.


Arch Doody retirement party

Nov. 30 – Arch Doody is retiring on Nov. 30 after working with the College for 17 years. Please join in celebrating his retirement at Infusions restaurant at the Kelowna campus from 3-5 p.m. Cake, coffee and light snacks prepared by OC Food Services will be provided.

Holiday Party – OC Social Committee

Dec. 8 – Join the OC Social Committee for the annual employee holiday party on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 7-11 p.m. in the Trades Atrium for a winter wonderland of fun.

Cocktails, appetizers and an OC jam session is on from 7-9 p.m. and then from 9-11 p.m. there will be dancing and music from Jeff Piatelli. Tickets are $25. Your evening will include $4 drinks, raffle prizes, toonie tosses, 50/50 draw, photo booth and more!

Purchase your tickets from Angie March, Carlyn Young, Erin Dreyer, Gerry Born, Lara Jennings, Maddy Welsh, Margaret Johnson or Richard McAdam. View the event poster for more details.

If you would enjoy playing your musical instrument or bringing your singing voice to the party on Dec. 8 from 7 - 9 p.m. please contact Angie March.

Kathy Butler retirement party

Dec. 12 – You’re invited to join Kathy Butler in celebration of her retirement on Wed, Dec. 12. Click here to RSVP your attendance by Dec. 5. The celebration is held on the third floor in the Trades building at the Kelowna campus and parking will be free.


The new agreement between the College, School District 22 and a Chinese school district received coverage in Press Reader, Academica, Okanagan Weekend, and Castanet.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan visited Okanagan College's Penticton campus to announce new federal funding for a local sports tech company called XCO. The visit was documented by the Penticton Herald and Penticton Western News.

Shuswap communities are invited to stand united against violence against women at the Dec. 6 event, profiled by the Salmon Arm Observer.

The North Okanagan Early Years’ Pathway to Truth and Reconciliation conference at the Vernon campus was profiled by the Vernon Morning Star and Daily Courier.

Affordable child care made headlines in the Daily Courier and Global News this month, when the B.C. Government announced families with children at Okanagan College’s Little Scholars would pay no more than $200 a month.

Scholarship and bursary awards totalling nearly $500,000 by the Okanagan Foundation received coverage in the Kelowna Capital News and Daily Courier.

Salmon Arm students with Enactus are kicking off a new season to their Launch-A-Preneur project, showcased in the Salmon Arm Observer.

Student savings from e-textbooks use at the College was profiled in the Vernon Morning Star, Kelowna Capital News, and Daily Courier.

The lineup for the 2019 Canadian Culinary Championships was announced and printed in the Daily Courier and Capital News. A part of the competition is held at Okanagan College, and students help each of the chefs compete in the event.

Promotions for the Repair Café at the Kelowna campus were featured in the Daily Courier and the Capital News.

The Vernon Morning Star reported that three more Indigenous youth have filed lawsuits against Robert Riley Saunders, a former BC ministry social worker who held a contract term position in adult special education at the College. The Daily Courier and Castanet spoke with a victim who is seeking justice.

Former OC political science instructor Andy Shadrack wrote a letter to the editor in the Creston Valley Advance about his reasons for voting for proportional representation.

The OC women’s basketball team claimed the lone Coyote win against the visiting Capilano University Blues, as reported by the Kelowna Now. They did not fare as well against the Douglas College Royals, though, as reported by the New Westminster Record. The Daily Courier and Capital News reported on the Coyote inaugural roadtrip to Capilano.

Global News showcased the Kalamalka Rotary Club’s recent fundraiser, citing the Vernon Trades Training Centre as an example of successful projects Rotarians contributed to make a reality.

Transit made the news this month, with work on the Rutland Transit Exchange, including the No. 8 service to the College, covered in the Kelowna Capital News. BC Transit is also seeking feedback on South Okanagan transit service at the Penticton campus open session on Dec. 5, as reported by Castanet.

Pre-screening for the SOMM3 documentary received coverage in the Okanagan Weekend and Capital News.

Promotions for Zach Walsh's Signature Speaker Series presentation at the Vernon campus on cannabis use and mental health appeared in the Vernon Morning Star.

Floral Design students helped decorate a heritage home for the popular Homes for the Holidays tour in Kelowna. The project was picked up by the Okanagan Weekend and KelownaNow.

New trades training equipment is coming to Okanagan College's Vernon campus, as reported by the Vernon Morning Star.

SCMT students helped build a sustainable small home on the Upper Bench of Penticton, and the project was showcased in the Penticton Herald.

OC student Mervin Mascarenhas debuted his $89,000 space pen at the Global Spirits Festival, and was profiled in the Kelowna Capital News and Okanagan Weekend.

OC geography instructor Leif Burge was photographed by the Capital News while appearing on a panel about collaborating with First Nations to combat climate change.

Okanagan College Foundation employee Richard McAdam wrote a letter to the Daily Courier editor about the recent Liberal conference held in Kelowna.

The premier of the Us and Them documentary exploring the world of homelessness was held at the Penticton campus, and promotions appeared in the Herald newspaper.

Honorary Fellow and social planner Annette Sharkey presented a homelessness snapshot to Vernon council, which was covered by the Morning Star newspaper.

OC instructor Markus Heinrichs won the Legs of Steel award in the Interior Running Association's two running series. His accomplishment was featured in the Okanagan Weekend.


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

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 Dec. 11, 2018.