President Joel Ward is eager to transform Red Deer College into a “hands-on learning,” degree-granting institution.
Although the answer he’s hoping from the province is more than a month overdue, Ward remains optimistic RDC has made a solid case for becoming a polytechnic university, and a “green door” lies ahead.
Mentioning the “unparalleled” $118-million investment in RDC infrastructure that will expand teaching and learning spaces by 30 per cent (with the opening of the new Gary W. Harris Canada Winter Games Centre in August, the new student residence by Christmas, and new alternative energy lab by summer), Ward said, “I won’t accept a red door” halting the polytechnic process.
“If we don’t get a green door, we will keep on fighting,” said Ward after a State of the College address Monday in the RDC Arts Centre.
“But I don’t imagine (the provincial government) will shut the door on us for the third time in 25 years,” he added, referring to two previous denials for degree-granting status.
Alberta’s Advanced Education ministry had promised to have an answer to RDC’s request to become a polytechnic by the end of 2017.
Morris Flewwelling, chair of the college’s Board of Governors, believes the minister already knows the decision, but is waiting to get it before cabinet.
The provincial government has been busy early with pressing matters, said Flewwelling – including B.C. delaying the twinning of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain oil pipeline and the ensuing trade war that erupted with Alberta banning imports of B.C. wine.
Prolonged uncertainty at RDC means Monday’s annual State of the College address became a renewed message about the college’s importance to Central Alberta, learners, businesses and economy.
Ward cranked out some statistics: more than 100,000 people enjoy RDC’s campus each year, including performing arts shows, community events, and classes.
More than 100 different programs are offered to 7,500 RDC students, and more than 36,000 continuing education learners by a staff of 1,415.
Considering RDC’s many connections with Central Albertan businesses, municipalities, organizations, school divisions, chambers of commerce, the college contributes more than $533 million to Central Alberta’s economy, said Ward. This means for every dollar invested in RDC, Central Alberta sees $11.90.
“We give great value to our students and taxpayers.”
Among the new RDC programs intended to start soon are two applied degrees — in animation as well as a theatre-motion picture-live entertainment. Also, a Justice Studies diploma, a pre-health services certificate, an eLearning program, and a collaborative degree in psychology.
Flewwelling said it’s high time for RDC to “take the next step” into the future.