Former RDC student and benefactor Gary Harris (the namesake of the college’s Gary W. Harris Canada Winter Games Centre), supports the creation of more local educational opportunities. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Alumni voices are added to RDC’s lobby for polytechnic university status

Red Deer College needs to grow, says co- founder of Nexus Energy Technologies

Several of Red Deer College’s star alumni added their support to the facility’s on-going push for degree-granting status.

“Red Deer College… needs to continue to grow. It’s important to the city that we develop our education system and keep people here,”said Ryan Smith, a founding partner of Nexus Energy Technologies at Friday’s launch of RDC’s 2017 notebook alumni magazine at the Arts Centre.

Smith could only complete one year of his engineering program at Red Deer College before having to move to a larger centre to finish his university degree.

But he feels his one year at RDC “did give me a huge advantage,” and contributed to his success.

Smith, who’s pictured on the notebook’s 2017 cover, formed Nexus, a local engineering, manufacturing and technology firm that employs 50 people across Canada as well as six workers at its Houston, Tex. site, with his partners Stephen McCall and Scott Wilson.

RDC President Joel Ward said he’s glad Smith returned to his community: “Nine out of 10 people don’t.” Studies have shown that the majority of Central Albertans who go to Edmonton, Calgary or other large cities to finish their education continue to live and work there.

Ward added the Red Deer-area is then deprived of these people’s talents, entrepreneurship and job creation opportunities.

He’s been lobbying the provincial government to allow RDC polytechnic university status, so more students can complete their studies closer to home. Alberta Advanced Education officials have committed to making a decision on the matter this year.

Cory Kaun, of Larkaun Homes, and Gary Harris, the namesake of the new Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, were also on hand at Friday’s launch of the nearly four-decade-old notebook magazine, which keeps alumni connected with RDC and each other.

Harris recalled taking the first year of his law program at RDC in 1971-‘72. He later taught sessional classes at facility in business law. “I have strong ties to the college,” said Harris, who made the single largest individual donation in RDC’s history by contributing $5-million to the centre.

He added he’s very impressed with the building’s progress. “I’m pleased to see it on schedule and on budget.” Tours will begin this summer, but fundraising continues.

For $500, donors can get an engraved paving stone.

Donor Kaun said he and his wife were happy to support the college, while leaving a legacy that can be seen by their children when they attend RDC in future. “We are so fortunate. It’s always good to give back.”

The notebook is available on campus. For more information about donating, please visit: rdc.ab.ca/pavingourfuture.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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