Ward: Big changes and a bright future for RDC

RDC is intrinsically tied to the communities of Central Alberta — it’s your college, and as president and CEO I’m pleased to share with you on a regular basis some of our important initiatives.

First, your college is undergoing significant growth and development. You will have noticed the construction of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris facing QEII.

This $88-million project, celebrating health, wellness and sport, will open in the fall 2018.

The project provides many jobs for contractors, architects and tradespeople from across central Alberta, with approximately 20 different companies involved. Provincially, to date this project translates into work for 2,000 to 2,500 people.

This iconic teaching and learning facility, supporting health, wellness and athletic programming, is another example of our continuing commitment to you by expanding program options for students and providing access to a world-class facility for our communities.

Your college is also a significant driver of economic development. RDC employs 1,471 faculty and staff. Our budget is almost $100 million, and we contribute approximately $71 million to the central Alberta economy through our operations.

Over the past two years, the college has had enrolment growth of 20 per cent. More than 8,000 students learn on our campuses, with almost 13,000 additional learners taking a wide variety of continuing education courses, and another 25,000 students enrolling in our camps and world-renowned Series Summer Arts School programs each year.

I hope each of you has had the opportunity to connect with RDC through the wide variety of activities we offer. Perhaps enjoying the wonderful performances in our Arthur Erickson-designed Arts Centre, or taking training in our J.B. Quinn Centre for corporate training or at our downtown campus, home of the Donald School of Business, or perhaps it is taking in a basketball, volleyball or soccer game on our main campus. As you can see, we are very proud of our college, and, because of it, the intellectual, economic, cultural and social development of central Alberta is strengthened and enriched.

Your college is a proud partner in hosting the 2019 Canada Winter Games. When Red Deer hosts more than 3,600 athletes in 20 sports in February 2019, our new Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre will host five events, and we will also house all the athletes on campus. We are delighted to have the opportunity to showcase our community, and our college to all of Canada.

But we have much more to do.

Our college needs to be degree-granting. You will have heard the term polytechnic university many times in our community. Our board of governors has made degree-granting through the polytechnic university model its number one priority. We must succeed because there is too much at risk if we don’t. In next month’s column, I will make the case for RDC to attain degree-granting status by becoming a polytechnic university to best serve our learners and communities.

Joel Ward is the president and CEO of Red Deer College.

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