On June 7, at our Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, we will be celebrating our 55th Convocation. This is my 27th year celebrating the achievements of students in three provinces in over 60 ceremonies – and it is still the day of the academic year that I look forward to most.
Alas this is my last Convocation, and of all the things I will miss at RDC, it is shaking the hands of our graduates and wondering what lies ahead for them. We are proud of their accomplishments and the future they will imagine and create.
We are proud of the future RDC is imaging and creating. As we complete our transition to Red Deer University, we will welcome more students in more programs, which will result in significant increases to our contribution to the economic, cultural and social development of our region and our province.
RDC prides itself in providing quality, practical education that is relevant to our learners and the communities we serve. As we develop programs for our future as a university, they will connect to the needs of our communities, and they will be practical in their application and focus. Becoming a university must ensure practical and applied learning that leads to success for our learners. Success, in this case, is defined as great jobs and careers leading to productive and satisfying lives.
For the graduates who will transition into the workforce or further education, Convocation day represents an incredible milestone. Each year, 90% of our graduates find employment within six months of finishing their program of study. As an institution, we are incredibly proud of that number. Our graduates are ready to become the next generation of leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs; their stories and their achievements are ready to be written. Our future is in good hands.
Many have contributed to the success of our students. Clearly, family and friends play a major role in our students’ success. Their contribution and understanding is a big reason why graduates are walking across the stage.
I am also very proud of our faculty. Students remind me every day of how supportive, professional and engaged faculty are. It reminds me of a theme song from a sitcom — “where everybody knows your name.” Students tell me that their professors know their names and take a personal interest in their success. We must retain this culture as we become a University, as it is what differentiates us from most large institutions.
Great professors, teaching relevant programs in state-of-the-art facilities will ensure RDC/U continues to serve our region. RDC/U will continue to grow and evolve, to build on our strengths and to work with business, social agencies and Indigenous populations to create strong, vibrant communities in which people will want to work, play, innovate and live.
To our graduating students, our dedicated faculty and staff, our visionary leadership team, and our Board of Governors, well done!
Joel Ward is President & CEO of Red Deer College.