Winter Walk Day at Red Deer College attracted few participants on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Updated: Red Deer University announced as new name for college

Complete transition to a university expected to take about two years

RDC has graduated to RDU.

Red Deer University was unveiled as the new name for the college at the Red Deer Arts Centre Tuesday morning.

College board chair Morris Flewwelling admits the name — chosen from among 100 possibilities and after community consultation involving nearly 400 people — is not the most imaginative.

However, the search boiled down to “authenticity” and being true to the college’s legacy, said Flewwelling.

“We could have been Blazing Star University or something like that,” he joked. “We felt really grounded in Red Deer University.”

Flewwelling said he saw the announcement as the “end of the beginning” and now the work of preparing the college to become a university will be in full swing.

University president Joel Ward said the transition to a degree-granting institution is well underway and he anticipates the college will offer a full-fledged university program within two years.

Ward said the goal is to create a comprehensive regional teaching university.

Innovation was one of the words that frequently arose during public consultation, the college president said.

“This is the institution we will become, an institution that offers innovative, practical education with sought after recognized programs.

“We will be a comprehensive regional teaching university that is renowned and known in our region and beyond.”

Ward said the university is “about who we let in, not who we keep out.”

Students’ association vice-president academic Esther Schilling said students are excited.

“It shows the commitment we have to expand as a university now. The city will be expanding as well, with more professional opportunities and more educational opportunities for students now that they can finish their degrees here in Red Deer.”

Schilling said a university will attract more students from across Canada and internationally. During the Canada Winter Games she frequently got comments from the athletes that were interested in studying in Red Deer.

Mayor Tara Veer said for the city and region to fulfill their potential they must not only retain local talent but become a competitive contender in attracting new population.

“We are Alberta’s, we are Canada’s next university city. Congratulations,” she said to applause

“We know that degree completion for RDC is one of, if not the most, singular strategic economic development community-building initiatives that we can undertake together.”

Red Deer South MLA Barb Miller, who announced the new name, said “this announcement marks the beginning of a very exciting time in the history of the Red Deer region” and the commitment of the government to education.

Kim Schreiner, Red Deer North MLA, said the milestone “heralds the beginning of new and unlimited opportunity, for not just Red Deer, but all of Alberta.”

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