With only a month until retirement, Joel Ward’s legacy as Red Deer College president and CEO was recognized at the annual state of the college address Thursday.
Board of governors chair Morris Flewwelling praised Ward for his vision and leadership.
“He is a person of great perseverance and persuasion,” said Flewwelling.
“He will not take no for an answer. But the other part about Joel is … that when you push him down, say no, or if you’re hard on him, or you’re mean, he just bounces right back up again.”
Flewwelling said Ward provided a spark for RDC when he joined the institution 10 years ago.
“The college needed a re-awakening and Joel was just the person to do that. He never leaves things alone, he always has to tinker, and when you start to tinker, you get ideas.
“This vision of a university was really big for him and he was not going to give it up without a real fight. And we got it,” he said.
The past year in particular has been “transformative” for RDC, Flewwelling added.
This year’s highlights included RDC receiving approval to become Red Deer University, the launch of eight new programs and the opening of three new facilities: the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, the Alternative Energy Lab and the new residence building.
Ward said he’s proud of where he’s leaving RDC.
“This has been an amazing 10 years in my life, but I have another chapter to write.
“I’m never about yesterday, I’m always about tomorrow. Already, I’m thinking about what I can do next and where I can contribute. Although I will retire, I’m 68 years old. I won’t slow down.”
A number of people, including Flewwelling, Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood and Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, spoke about Ward’s efforts as college president at the state of the college address
“It’s always terrific to hear people respect the work you do – I’m always about the work,” said Ward.
Ward also touched on the institution’s future Thursday.
“RDC will be guided by the communities we serve and we will continue to engage our communities as we learn and grow together,” said Ward.
“We will build on our strengths as a college as we transition to a university that offers comprehensive programming, which will ensure the success of our learners and have a direct impact on the economic, cultural and social growth of central Alberta.”