One man’s long association with Red Deer College, dating back to working in a hay field where the college now stands, has been further solidified with a $1-million donation.
Bill and Irma Welikoklad donated the second largest single amount to the college. The donation was announced at a small ceremony on Monday.
Welikoklad had a hand in building the college — in 1966, he was the general foreman at the site when work began.
But long before the Red Deer man was pouring concrete, he was farming the land.
“I used to work in this hay field when I was 15, 16 years old when we used to cut hay off the place,” said Welikoklad.
Later, “I was the general foreman with six foremen under me. When we started (building RDC) it was a hay field.”
The college is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
And now the founder of Executive Homes, now operating as Home Building Centre, has made a major contribution to the college.
The $1-million donation will be used for a variety of projects, starting with $100,000 to the Welikoklad Family/Home Building Centre Endowment, which was established in 2010 after the Welikoklad family donated $250,000 to the college. The rest goes to what RDC president and CEO Joel Ward called projects deemed most beneficial to ensuring success of college learners, be it facility enhancement or development of new and existing programs.
“As we continue to expand and grow, and provide better facility for the teaching and learning experience,” said Ward, adding he hopes to announce some capital projects in September.
“A lot of that money will go to classroom rehabilitation, design and creating new learning space.”
The donation to the endowment will help fund scholarships and bursaries for students, Ward said. About one in seven students at RDC receives some form of financial assistance.
“I’d like to see it all put to good use,” said Welikoklad. “My first donation, I was very pleased the way it was handled. I like to know when you donate something it is appreciated. This is what makes me happy about Red Deer College, it’s all here and I think it is tremendously well run.”
In recognition of the donation, there will be a naming event later this year. College officials did not disclose many details, other than the inclusion of Welikoklad’s name and that they hope to have the event in the fall.
“We’re getting older and it’s time to leave a legacy,” said Welikoklad.