College takes the reins

Solid partnerships and a keen eye to the future are the tools that win national recognition for a small and highly specialized school, says the president of Olds College.

Savina Gorenewold and other English horsemanship students await a chance to ride inside the Olds College’s new Canadian Equine Centre for Innovation Tuesday.

OLDS COLLEGE ­— Solid partnerships and a keen eye to the future are the tools that win national recognition for a small and highly specialized school, says the president of Olds College.

On Tuesday, a star-studded audience of dignitaries, donors and Equine Sciences students gathered to celebrate the $9-million expansion of its equine facilities and wrap up a capital campaign that raised $92 million over four years.

The new Canadian Equine Centre for Innovation is the latest addition in an $87-million overhaul to be completed in January. Final pieces include a new high school, a provincial employment and immigration centre and a child and family services centre on the Community Learning Campus.

Even as it prepares to open those facilities, the college is planning a series of events leading up to its 100th anniversary in 2013, president Tom Thompson told the crowd gathered in the newly-dedicated Shirley McClellan Riding Arena.

Expansion of the Equine Sciences program will allow the college to add one new program and double the number of students to 200 over the next five years, said Thompson.

The new equine facilities, including the riding arena and barn, maternity stalls and reproduction lab, enable the college to add a coaching program to its four existing areas of study, which include production and breeding, business and event management, western horsemanship, and English horsemanship, said equine program co-ordinator Marian Anderson.

Watching from the wings, second-year Equine Sciences student Meagan Beattie, originally from Maple Ridge, B.C., said her only regret is that college doesn’t offer a degree program in her chosen field.

Beattie added some advice for students considering one of the college’s equine programs.

“It’s really what you make it. Horses are my passion. I find the biggest challenge for me, is to always keep that fire alive about why you’re actually here, not looking at it as just school.”

Funding for the capital campaign was kicked off with provincial grants totalling $55 million, said Jordan Cleland, vice-president of advancement for the college.

The college raised an additional $32 million for the capital projects and $7 million earmarked for bursary and scholarship endowments, bringing the total to $92 million, said Cleland.

Advanced Education minister Doug Horner also announced during the program that the college had been approved for its annual $1.2 million matching grant, the maximum available from the Access to the Future Renaissance Fund.

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