Honorary Fellows and Distinguished Service

Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow and Distinguished Service awards to deserving individuals as part of its annual Convocation ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A list of recipients can be found below.

honoree medal

Nominations for 2022 Honorary Fellows are now being accepted

Deadline for Nominations: Nov. 19, 2021

Honorary Fellow award description and criteria

The award of an Honorary Fellow is recognition by Okanagan College of distinguished achievement or outstanding service.

The criteria for the award are mentorship, excellence, eminence and accomplishment.

The College welcomes nominations that reflect the values of the College and the diversity of Canadian society. Nominees will be persons who have made significant contributions to the College, the Okanagan Valley, the Province, the Nation or on an international level.

The award will not normally be given to a serving politician or current employee of the College.

Nominations are reviewed by a standing committee of Okanagan College’s Education Council and confidential recommendations for recognition are made to the Education Council and the Board of Governors.

2022 Honorary Fellow recipients

Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour on three notable residents, each of whom has made unique and meaningful contributions through education, public service, mentorship and philanthropy.

Dennis Gabelhouse, Clifford Serwa and Howard Soon have been selected by the College as its 2022 Honorary Fellows.

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Dennis Gabelhouse

Dennis G. Gabelhouse is a long-time resident of Kelowna (50 years) with over 35 years of newspaper and television experience. He has had a successful media career that began with the Edmonton Journal, the Penticton Herald and the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Dennis Gabelhouse

Dennis G. Gabelhouse is a long-time resident of Kelowna (50 years) with over 35 years of newspaper and television experience. He has had a successful media career that began with the Edmonton Journal, the Penticton Herald and the Kelowna Daily Courier. He was the Director of Marketing for the Winnipeg Free Press from 1989 to 1991 overseeing the advertising and circulation departments. Gabelhouse first joined CHBC Television in 1975 as a Sales Executive and later returned as Retail Sales Manager in 1991, followed by promotions to Marketing Director, General Sales Manager and then General Manager in 2008. Over the last eight years while semi-retired, Dennis guided business development for CREW Marketing Partners, bringing on many well-known Okanagan clients to help facilitate the growth of CREW to over 50 employees with three Canadian offices and recently one US office. 

His community involvement is extensive. Gabelhouse has supported several high-impact programs and fundraising initiatives, generating significant financial resources to help those in need. He was an active participant in OC’s Trades Complex and Health Sciences Centre fundraising campaigns. He has also volunteered for events such as the Kelowna International Regatta, served on the boards for Kelowna Snowfest and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and has been active with organizations such as Okanagan-Mission Rotary Club and the Central Okanagan United Way.

Married to Gwen for 41 years, Gabelhouse has two daughters, Lauren and Lindsay, a four-year-old granddaughter and twin two-year-old grandsons.

Cliff Serwa

Upon graduating Kelowna Senior High School in 1954, Cliff Serwa began his career at Serwa Bulldozing. He served as the assistant manager in the family business from 1956 to 1962, and had a vision of champagne powder for ski enthusiasts. Alongside his business partner Doug Mervyn, Serwa made that vision come to life.

Cliff Serwa

Upon graduating Kelowna Senior High School in 1954, Cliff Serwa began his career at Serwa Bulldozing. He served as the assistant manager in the family business from 1956 to 1962, and had a vision of champagne powder for ski enthusiasts. Alongside his business partner Doug Mervyn, Serwa made that vision come to life.

He and Mervyn co-founded Big White Ski Development, which constructed 14 miles of sub-alpine road, parking lots, a Day Chalet along with a 5,500 foot Doppelmayr T-Bar, all in place for opening day. The mountain resort opened in 1963 and quickly became a popular destination for skiiers throughout the province. He also co-founded Doppelmayr Lifts Ltd., serving as its president from 1965 to 1978.

The resort changed hands, and Serwa began another chapter in his career. He was elected as member of the Legislative Assembly of B.C. representing Okanagan South in 1986, which he served until 1991 when the riding was divided. He was in cabinet from 1990 to 1991, as Minister of Environment. He served as the MLA for Okanagan West from 1991 to 1996. 

Serwa has been heavily involved with the community throughout his life. In 1977, he was the founding director and former vice-president of the Central Okanagan Foundation. He also contributed his time  to the Kelowna Economic Recovery and Employment Development Association, Kelowna Fish and Game Club, and Sutherland Hill parks board.

He was a significant contributor to the OC Trades Complex expansion project, and supported educational development of students at OC by creating an annual bursary for Early Childhood Education Diploma program students. He is also a supporter of the Okanagan Mission Rotary Club.

Howard Soon

Born in Vancouver, Howard Soon graduated from UBC in Biochemistry and later, pursued an MBA at the University of Manitoba. 

Howard Soon

Born in Vancouver, Howard Soon graduated from UBC in Biochemistry and later, pursued an MBA at the University of Manitoba. 
He began his 40-year career in winemaking with Calona Vineyards, ultimately becoming the Founding Winemaker of Sandhill in 1997. Since September 2017, Soon has been the Master Winemaker for Vanessa Vineyard at Cawston, Similkameen Valley, B.C. 

His collaborative relationships with his growers and non-interventionist approach have consistently led to award-winning single vineyard wines. He is the first winemaker to release exclusively single vineyard wines that capture terroir. His contribution to the B.C. wine industry was first recognized in 1998 by the Okanagan Wine Festival Society, receiving the Founders Award. He was the first B.C. winemaker to receive a Gold Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in Burgundy, France.

He teaches Wine Appreciation as part of Continuing Studies at Okanagan College and holds a Certificate of Proficiency in Wine Knowledge (CWE) from the Society of Wine Educators.

Soon became the only winemaker in history to receive all three top honours at the Wine Access 2009 Canadian Wine Awards when Sandhill won for Red Wine of the Year, White Wine of the Year, and Winery of the Year.

He was invited into the BC Restaurant and Food Service Association (BCRFA) Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Industry in 2012. In 2015, Soon was recognized at the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s Celebrating Excellence Awards with the highly coveted “Spirited Industry Professional” Award. In 2017, the final year before retiring from Sandhill, he was given the Award of Distinction from the BC Wine Institute – the first time the BCWI has given this distinction to three individuals. 

In June 2019, he received an appointment to the Order of Canada in recognition of his contributions to the Wine Industry. On July 21, 2021, he was recognized by the Canadian Wine Industry (Winegrowers of Canada) with the Karl Kaiser 2021 Canadian Winemaker of the Year trophy.

Honorary Fellows

2020
Pamela and Wilfred "Grouse" Barnes
Robert Foord
Louis Thomas
Don Turri

2019
Tom Christensen
Robert Louie
George Galbraith

2018
Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono
Rick Thorpe
Patrick Waunch

2017
Randy Manuel
Sharon Shepherd
Edna Terbasket

2016
William Redmond
Anthony von Mandl
Dr. Rita Winkler

2015
Rod Butters
Norm Embree
Rick Pushor
Annette Sharkey

2014
Garry Benson
Raghwa Gopal
Jim Henderson
Margriet Ruurs

2013
Alan Gatzke
Barry Lapointe
Ernie Phillip

2012
Yasmin John-Thorpe
Lane Merrifield
Janet Shaw

2011
Bev Busson
Mel Kotler
Tom Landecker

2010
Peter Haubrich
George and Trudy Heiss
Dorothy Tinning

2009
Charles Armstrong
Robert Fine
Barbara Marchand

2008
Jeanette Armstrong
Richard Cannings
Robert Cannings
Syd Cannings
Ken Harding

2007
Ross Gorman
Lorraine McGrath
Ken Smedley

2006
Albert Baldeo
Mike Roberts
Lois Serwa

 

Distinguished Service Award recipients

This award is to honour and recognize former Okanagan College employees, who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support the mission, vision and values of Okanagan College, and who are active within and outside the Okanagan College community. This award will not be given as a matter of routine and is extended to only those who are most deserving.

Nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Service Award are now being accepted

2022 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Kathy Butler, M.A., CFRE

Kathy left an incomparable legacy for advancement professionals following her retirement as the Director of Advancement and Alumni at Okanagan College in 2018. Her astounding career that spans over 38 years, (15 of those at Okanagan College and 17 years in health care) is overflowing with extraordinary contributions to the field of fund development.  She joined Global Philanthropic Inc. (Canada) as a Senior Consultant in 2019.

She joined Okanagan University College in 2003 at a very turbulent time when the institution was to be split apart, forming two new educational institutions: UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College. This immensely complicated start proved to be a very valuable experience in donor stewardship and in setting up new entities, transferring the assets, gifts and staff, and re-branding a new foundation.  In a time when fundraising for colleges was still relatively new in British Columbia, she was able to grow the Foundation’s endowment by over $5.6 million; increase planned giving amounts by $21.6 million; raise over $38 million for capital projects, scholarships, bursaries and program support; lead the largest successful college capital campaign in BC, raising over $9 million on a $5 million goal, coordinating the donation of the largest ever individual donation to a college in BC.  Kathy’s 17 years in health care fundraising with the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation built her knowledge of annual and major gift fundraising, as well as capital campaigns, where she raised over $30 million.

In June 2019, Kathy received the Outstanding Achievement Award – one of the highest honours – from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE). Her contributions to advancement reach far wider, having served on the Board of CCAE; contributing as a CFRE subject matter expert; and helping develop course content for a Fund Development program.  In 2016, she conducted original research on the state of College fundraising in Canada, earning her a Master of Arts degree in Philanthropy and Development from Saint Mary’s University.

Woman walking up the stairway in the Centre of Excellence building

Previous Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Okanagan University College Honorary Doctorates

2005
Katy Bindon
William Bowering
Roy Brown
Rowland Grant
Mike Harcourt
Ronald Jeffels
Tom Kerr

2005
Graham Smith
Miho Steinberg
Guy Tousignant
Steven Tuck
Norman Walker
Peter Williams

2004
Arthur Carty
Andrea Deakin
Lambert Schmalz
Alison Smith
Gerry Zimmermann
2003
James English
D. Ross Fitzpatrick
Thomas Foord
Jack Whyte
2002
Daphne Odjig
Patricia Proudfoot
2001
Mary Louie
Harry McWatters
2000
Tony Onley
John Woodowrth
1999
Roger Ames
Stephen Cannings
Vicki Gabereau
John Thomson
1998
Charles Fipke

Okanagan University College Distinguished Service Award Recipients

2004
Graham Bruce
2003
Gary Mellor
2002
Alex Recsky