College president looks to the future

New facilities and opportunities for more degree-completion programs are part of Red Deer College’s vision for the future.

New facilities and opportunities for more degree-completion programs are part of Red Deer College’s vision for the future.

Joel Ward, RDC president, revealed a progressive vision of the college that meets the growing needs in Alberta at the college’s annual Report to the Community on Friday at the Cenovus Energy Learning Common on campus.

Ward said with Alberta’s population projected to reach eventually 10 million, a proposed high-speed rail in the works and a projected shortfall of 114,000 workers, the college must position itself to evolve and grow to meet the educational and workplace needs of the future.

“There is a shortage coming of health-care workers in Central Alberta,” said Ward. “We think we need to train them in Central Alberta and we need to have the facilities and the programs to do that.”

A health and wellness education facility has been on the college’s wish list for several years. The college is about six months away from striking shovel to ground but requires government approval before the go-ahead. The plans include a state-of-the-art health-care centre focused on allied health-care programming and providing community access to facilities.

The college wants to add a multiplex and more student residences to its infrastructure. It is in discussions with local developers and contractors and expects to have a concept on both projects within six months.

While RDC has made progress by offering seven degree-completion programs, including education and nursing fields, Ward said the college’s goal is to offer and teach every degree possible in Red Deer.

“So you don’t have to leave after the second year,” he said. “You can stay and complete your third and fourth years. The board has made it a priority for this institution to get all of those degrees in-house in partnership with great universities. This is a cornerstone of our strategy. We lack that now but we are making progress.”

The college will announce its five-year academic plan in the coming weeks. The plan will map out the degrees in the order they are seeking them. A business degree was a first priority and is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

“We need to be able to offer what’s needed in Central Alberta without sending our kids somewhere else,” Ward said.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com