“We couldn’t be prouder of every single person involved in this campaign, or more thankful to the community that supported us to not only meet, but exceed, this ambitious target,” says Lethbridge College President and CEO Dr. Paula Burns. “This was a true community effort that has already paid benefits for the college and its students, and will continue to do so well into the future.”
Lethbridge College publicly launched its most ambitious fundraising campaign in May 2013, with a plan to secure a total of over $100 million in capital projects and initiatives – including at least $25 million from private donations – to support the following innovative and essential college initiatives (see backgrounder for more details):
• renewing the college’s aging trades and technology facilities
• supporting the environmentally-innovative Kodiak House residence
• reimagining the college’s library and learning space
• increasing access to student awards
• focusing on emerging priorities in programming excellence
During the course of the campaign, these five priorities have served as long-term economic drivers for our community, promoted industry partnerships and helped to develop a skilled workforce.
“Our campaign co-chairs – Keith Dys and Glenn Varzari – were admittedly skeptical about our $25 million target initially,” says Joyanne Mitchell, manager, Development and Alumni Relations. “But once they committed, their positivity led a tireless effort from the entire campaign cabinet that resulted in this unprecedented level of public support for the college.”
College staff, students, donors, community partners and alumni gathered in Centre Core for the anniversary kickoff and announcement – which came with balloons spilling into the room and cake cut by the college’s longest-serving staff members. Speakers focused on the college’s proud beginning as Canada’s first publicly-funded community college in 1957 and the people and partnerships who have made the college what it is today.
A local organizing group led by Gilbert Paterson and Kate Andrews lobbied passionately for the college, but needed approval of the University of Alberta to move forward, which was no easy task. Once the group received that approval in February 1957, the college board chose to recognize this relationship in its choice of colours and mascot. The Lethbridge College green and the Kodiak mascot were both chosen as they were in the same family as the University of Alberta’s green and Golden Bear mascot.
Ten years later, the college would play a similar role in helping to establish the University of Lethbridge. In 1967, the university courses that had been offered at the college moved over to the newly formed University of Lethbridge, and university classes operated on the college campus for the university’s first five years.
As the college celebrates its vision of leading and transforming education in Alberta during these 60 weeks, it will pay tribute to the visionary founders who in 1957 created Canada’s first publicly-funded community college. During this anniversary year, the college will also celebrate its residency on traditional Blackfoot territory, its commitment to Indigenous education and its work to improve its practices to better serve First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Finally, as part of the anniversary year, the college will celebrate its role in and contributions to the community.
“The contributions made to Lethbridge and southern Alberta by the college, our employees and our students and alumni over the past six decades are countless,” says Michel Béchard, executive director, Advancement and External Relations. “We look forward to a wide variety of opportunities to celebrate those achievements and this exciting milestone over the next 60 weeks, culminating with the opening of the second phase of our new trades and technologies facility next fall, which will catapult us into our next 60 years.”