Red Deer College (RDC) President Joel Ward recently gave the keynote address at the annual State of the College Address.
Ward spoke about several highlights of the past year including the growth of three capital projects, the economic impact of RDC on the community and the growing number of programs, however, the looming Government of Alberta decision regarding RDC receiving degree-granting status as a polytechnic university was the main theme of the evening.
The Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt made his recommendation to cabinet before the New Year and Ward said a decision is imminent.
“I am sure the Government has made their decision and the timing is up to them as it always is,” Ward said. “It is a great story if it is a positive answer and if it is a positive answer, of course they will want to be here to make that announcement.”
Much of Ward’s speech focused on the economic impact RDC has on the Central Alberta community, which is currently $533 million according to a RDC press release.
Ward said degree-granting would only further benefit Central Alberta economically.
“There is an economic argument, there is an argument for keeping kids closer to home and it is about opportunities for people to start businesses in our region and also to attract business,” he said.
Ward said the unique polytechnic university model would allow RDC to build a skilled and educated workforce.
“If you come back in 10 years, you will see a vibrant, new modelled post-secondary institution offering a variety of programs that are making a tremendous difference in students’ lives and the businesses, industries and social agencies in Central Alberta,” he said.
Ward was positive RDC will receive good news very soon.
“Our Minister has done a stellar job of presenting our case to cabinet,” he said. “He is a great supporter of who we are and what we are trying to do. He has met every deadline that we have asked and we are very optimistic that he advocated for us. We anxiously await the answer. It could happen as soon as tomorrow.”
Aside from the potential impending changes, the State of the College Address presented some very positive statistics.
“The State of the College Address provides a special opportunity for us to connect with our community members,” RDC Board Chair Morris Flewwelling said in a press release.
Part of that connection was highlighting the 100,000 people who use the RDC campus every year; the 7,500 full or part-time students in 2016/17; the 1,415 people currently employed by the College and the 100 different programs offered through RDC.
The College is also in the process of seeing three new capital projects which will open in 2018 including the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, the new residence building and the new Alternative Energy Lab.
“Providing the best opportunities and facilities possible for our learners is at the heart of what we do,” Ward said in a release. “We will continue to work with government, business, industry and community partners to build on our solid foundation and to achieve even greater possibilities for the future of our communities.”