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Okanagan College receives major gift

Electrical student Brian Manders explains the workings of one of the Okanagan College labs to Dave Kent of Great West Life in the Centre of Excellence. The company recently donated $100,000 for use at the facility and will go towards the goal of matching the $2.5 million received from Jim Pattison earlier.   - Mark Brett/Western News
Electrical student Brian Manders explains the workings of one of the Okanagan College labs to Dave Kent of Great West Life in the Centre of Excellence. The company recently donated $100,000 for use at the facility and will go towards the goal of matching the $2.5 million received from Jim Pattison earlier.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Great-West Life is building on its 20-year connections with Okanagan College with a gift that will both help with both the capital costs for the Centre of Excellence and developing a new instructional program at the centre.

Earlier this week, Great-West Life, one of Canada’s leading insurers, contributed $100,000 to Okanagan College to encourage sustainability training. Half the donation will go to the fund to cover the college’s share of the $28-million building at the Penticton campus and the other half to help develop a new, three-year, Sustainable Construction Management Technology program.

Great-West Life has a long-standing relationship with the college dating back to 1990 when Canada Life established a scholarship. Since then, Okanagan College students have received 20 awards totalling $11,800.

“We saw the College’s new initiative as an opportunity to deepen that relationship,” said Dave Kent, regional director for Great-West Life. “Okanagan College has built one of the most innovative and sustainable post-secondary facilities in the world and will soon be training the next generation of tradespeople in sustainable building practices.”

Brian Manders, third year electrical student at OK College, said bringing this kind of cutting-edge programming home to Penticton is a great opportunity for the college.

“Being able to go to school without leaving home is awesome,” he said, adding that he actually was part of the workforce that built the Centre of Excellence. “It is the largest and most technological building I have ever had an opportunity to work on; this all leads up to amazing strengths. Now I go to a school in a college that I actually helped build.”

Great-West Life’s contribution is the first corporate donation to the Centre since December when Jim Pattison announced his commitment of $2.5-million in matching funds and the building was renamed in his honour as The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

“This is the latest chapter in a story that just keeps getting better because here we are gathered today in one of the world's most sustainable buildings that bears the name of one of Canada's foremost business people,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton, adding that with this latest donation, the college is now working with and benefiting from the generosity of “one of Canada's best companies.”

Hamilton hopes that Great-West's donation will spur other corporate donors to step forward and recognize the value of the work going on at the college.

The Sustainable Construction Management Technology program has already received support from the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), and major construction firms such as North America Construction Group.

 

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