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RDC awards Danny Rode with Honorary Degree – Brittany van Vlaanderen earns Governor General’s Academic Medal

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RDC celebrates graduates and award recipients from class of 2021 Red Deer, June 3, 2021 – On June 4, 2021, Red Deer College will celebrate the graduates from its

57th Convocation through a virtual ceremony.

“Convocation is always such an important and emotional time, and that is especially true this year,” says Dr. Peter Nunoda, President. “These graduates made the choice to participate and to complete their education, despite formidable odds and circumstances that were undoubtedly different than they had envisioned. By rising to the challenge and earning their credential, each of these graduates has shown incredible resiliency and dedication, and I hope they are truly proud of all they have achieved.”

As part of the virtual ceremony for Convocation 2021, RDC is announcing two special award recipients. Brittany van Vlaanderen is receiving the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze Level) for her academic excellence. Brittany graduated with a Social Work diploma, and she earned a GPA of 4.0 and four grades of A+ in the final year of her program.

RDC is continuing an important tradition this year, with the granting of an Honorary Degree to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of social, cultural or economic development in a way that has had significant impact on RDC, central Alberta and beyond. Danny Rode is the seventh recipient of the Honorary Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree in recognition of his 50-year career as a sports journalist, where he has shown astounding commitment to RDC Athletics and our student-athletes, helping to place RDC on the map as one of the best colleges in Canada.

“Recognizing special award recipients is always a meaningful part of Convocation celebrations, and I would like to personally congratulate both of these individuals,” says Nunoda. “Brittany van Vlaanderen has demonstrated excellence and success of the highest level in her program, which is a tremendous way to transition to the next phase of her life and career.”

“Danny Rode, our Honorary Degree recipient, has spent five decades sharing the stories of our student-athletes, coaches and teams. He has earned the reputation as someone who has never missed a home game – in 50 years – which is unheard of, and speaks volumes to his unparalleled dedication to athletics and this community.”

This Convocation represents another special milestone for the College, as the 1,619 graduates from 2021 represent the final class from Red Deer College, before it transitions to exciting future as Red Deer Polytechnic.

“There is no question that this Convocation is special on several levels,” Nunoda says. “I truly wish that we could gather this year and that I could shake the hands of each and every graduate, so I could tell them how proud I am. Given the circumstances, we have put in every effort to ensure graduates feel our pride and a sense of community through the virtual ceremony and our social media celebration. The class of 2021 represents a milestone in the history of our institution, and they now transition to being an essential part of our vibrant group of alumni.”

The virtual ceremony for RDC’s 57th Convocation, as well as a virtual ceremony celebrating the Class of 2020, are each available at rdc.ab.ca/convocation. The College will be celebrating graduates on our social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) throughout the early part of June 2021.

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Alberta

Alberta ups ante in mandate fight with Athabasca University, threatens funding cut

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Alberta government has upped the ante in its fight with Athabasca University, directing the online-oriented school to get busy making sure more staff work in the small northern town or risk losing millions of dollars in funding.

“The university must end its pursuit of the near-virtual strategy and must deliver a new strategic plan to Advanced Education for approval by Sept. 30,” Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said in a statement Tuesday.

“Failure to comply will result in reductions to Athabasca’s future funding.”

Nicolaides informed the school of the changes in a letter sent over the weekend.

In it, Nicolaides tells the school’s board of directors that it has until the end of August to direct school president Peter Scott to stop implementing what is known as the university’s “near-virtual” strategy.

Further, writes Nicolaides, the board must then help Scott craft a new strategy “that expands and reinforces the university’s physical presence in the town of Athabasca.”

That new strategy must be submitted to Nicolaides for approval by the end of September.

Failure to do so, said Nicolaides, “would allow the Ministry of Advanced Education to withhold the $3.43-million monthly instalment for Athabasca University’s base operating grant.”

The letter also stipulates that all executive members of the university live in the town by no later than April 2025.

Kristine Williamson, the university’s spokesperson, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The letter escalates a standoff between the province and the university over the school’s mandate.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university instituted the “near-virtual” plan to give employees more freedom over where they carried out their work. That plan was accelerated when the pandemic forced people to work from home.

Scott has publicly argued the goal of the school is to provide the best distance education with the highest-quality staff — a mandate that would be hampered by a demand that employees work in Athabasca.

Nicolaides says high quality can still be maintained while adhering to the pledge of economic diversification that led to Athabasca being relocated from Edmonton almost 40 years ago.

Nicolaides directed the university in March to deliver by June 30 a plan to resume and expand in-person operations.

In May, the province replaced Nancy Laird as Athabasca University board chair to accelerate the shift. She was replaced by Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson.

Nevertheless, the shift has been rebuffed by Scott.

Scott, in an April email to staff, said “ongoing work with our near-virtual workforce will continue.”

He also noted the university shuttered satellites in Calgary and Edmonton to concentrate on Athabasca.

Nicolaides said Tuesday that the June 30 response did not pass muster, leading to “the need for Alberta’s government to take substantive action.”

Local residents have also taken up the fight.

The advocacy group Keep Athabasca in Athabasca University has argued for more local presence, concerned that a small fraction of about 1,200 staff are left in the town.

The group hired a lobbyist to plead its case and, in March, Premier Jason Kenney himself came to town to promise they would make changes to bring people back.

Athabasca University has about 40,000 students.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2022.

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Red Deer

Lindsay Thurber grad off to school in Ottawa and job in Parliament

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Local graduate to participate in prestigious Page Program

One Red Deer Public graduate will get an opportunity not many have had, which is to live and breathe the history and action of one of Canada’s oldest political institutions.

Elena Bakker, who graduated from Lindsay Thurber in June, is one of 40 students from across Canada who will be off to Ottawa later this summer to participate in the House of Commons Page Program.

“I heard about the program through my Principal Mr. Good and it sounded like something that would be up my alley,” she said. “It’s for students who are politically inclined and anybody who wants to know more about the parliamentary system. It was appealing to me and I was really interested in trying it out.”

Duties of a Page include performing tasks directly related to the sittings of the House; working with Members of Parliament in a non-partisan role; experiencing debates live in the Chamber; meeting with student groups in the Chamber; and participating in the Speaker’s parade, among other duties.

The process to apply was lengthy – Elena first applied in October and found out she was accepted in April. As part of the application process, she had to send in a cover letter and resume, and her second language ability was tested to ensure she could communicate confidently in both English and French.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity. You are guaranteed a year of work, and it opens the door for a lot of opportunities going forward,” said Elena. “There are many Pages who have gone back to work on Parliament Hill for various people in various different sectors. It connects you with a lot of people.”

While fulfilling work as a Page, Elena will also be entering her first year at the University of Ottawa as she works towards her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. “I am not 100% sure where my degree will take me, but I am using this first year to explore all opportunities and that is really exciting,” she said.

As for her upcoming role as a Page, Elena said there is much to look forward to.

“I am most looking forward to meeting the other Pages,” said Elena. “They are from all across Canada, come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives. It will be really cool to meet all of these people who are there for the same reason.”

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