One of Okanagan College’s longest-serving employees – its leader – will continue his connection to the institution for a while longer. The College’s Board of Governors recently extended President Jim Hamilton’s existing contract by an additional two years until October 2017.
He has served in the position since late 2004.
“I feel Okanagan College is at a critical juncture where we can take advantage of the momentum that has been developed and we can continue to build on our reputation for quality," says Hamilton. "The skills shortage facing this province and country provides both a duty and an opportunity for the College. I want to be part of rising to that challenge.”
Hamilton is already the longest-serving president in the B.C. College system. His association with the institution dates to 1980, when he began work as an English instructor at the College in Vernon, which was housed in the army barracks.
Hamilton’s accomplishments in his nine years as President are many, says Board Chair Tom Styffe. They include seeing more than $100 million of new construction and expansion completed throughout the valley, more than 40 per cent enrolment growth and a rapid expansion in the array of programs offered. Examples include new diploma programs added in Criminal and Social Justice,
Environmental Studies, Human Kinetics, Journalism Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, and International Development.
Trades programs are now being offered at all campuses and new programs introduced during Hamilton’s tenure include Aircraft and Maintenance Engineering (Structures), Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic, Studio Woodworking, and Pastry Arts. Okanagan College is now the second largest Trades training institution in BC.
“One of the College’s greatest accomplishments is the dramatic growth in the number of Aboriginal students who are registered at Okanagan College, and the strides we have made to understand, respect and learn from their culture,” says Hamilton. In 2005, Okanagan College had about 400 Aboriginal students registered. In 2012-13, more than 1,500 were taking courses and programs at the College. There are now First Nations Gathering Places at each of the College’s four main campuses.
“There are probably about 1,100 reasons – namely, my colleagues – that I agreed to extend my tenure at the College,” says Hamilton. “I have had the privilege of working with a group of people from Revelstoke to Oliver who care deeply for the welfare of our students and the communities we serve.
What Lies Ahead
A lot of specific projects such as completion of the $33 million Trades renovation and expansion, taking programs such as Wine, Food and Tourism into a whole new level, increasing international opportunities and accelerating the applied research agenda.
“Most of all, I am excited at the prospect of being part of the next four years, as Okanagan College continues doing what it does best: transforming lives and communities,” says Hamilton.