Congratulations to RDC’s graduates and thank you to our retiring leaders
Yesterday, we celebrated Red Deer College’s 56th graduating class. It looked different than a typical Convocation celebration, I’ll grant that. But through RDC’s social media platforms, we reached out to connect with our new graduates, sharing not only how proud we are of them but also how proud they should be of all they have achieved.
This year, there are 1,654 graduates from RDC. They have put in the time and dedication to earn their credentials and to create the foundation for the new direction their lives will take. Nothing can take that away from them, not a global pandemic and not the postponement of RDC’s in-person Convocation ceremonies.
This year’s graduating class has proven they have tremendous resiliency. They have shown tenacity, dedication and perseverance, and these attributes will serve them well throughout their lives. Even amidst adversity, they have achieved success, and I hope that each graduate feels very proud of what they have accomplished.
Through RDC’s social media celebrations yesterday, we also shared the accomplishments of three special individuals who received Convocation awards. Two students were recognized for their exceptional contributions to academics and to the community. Megan Nikula received the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze Level) for her academic excellence, and Brittany Lausen received the RDC Foundation Outstanding Student Award for her leadership and commitment to the College.
We also continued another important tradition when we granted the Honorary Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree to Dorothy Dickson, an inspiring lady whose life’s work has helped to shape our region and beyond. I’m sure many of you know of Dorothy and her unparalleled passion for environmental initiatives, education and community building. She embodies everything our Honorary Degree stands for, and we are thrilled she is the sixth recipient of this honour. For more information about Dorothy, Megan and Brittany, I encourage you to visit RDC’s website to read their full bios.
As we look past the virtual Convocation celebration, we have also announced we will celebrate these graduates in-person next year, during Convocation week at the beginning of June 2021. The exact details are still being determined and will be shared in the coming months. But we are so excited for the opportunity to share this history-making graduating class next year, with an in-person celebration on main campus.
As this academic year comes to a close, I would also like to express my deep gratitude to two of our senior leaders who will each be retiring in the next month. Dr. Paulette Hanna, RDC’s Vice President Academic and Research, will retire at the beginning of July. Paulette has been a strong leader at Red Deer College since she was hired as Associate Vice President Academic in 2014. Just a year later, she took on the role of Vice President Academic, and she has served this institution and our students in that capacity ever since. As a lifelong educator, Paulette worked as a teacher and principal for 25 years, and she was a leader with Red Deer Catholic Regional Division #39 for many years, including her role as Superintendent and CEO.
Dr. Torben Andersen, RDC’s Associate Vice President Academic, University Transition, will be retiring at the end of June. Torben has had a tremendous impact on Red Deer College throughout his 38-year career with this institution. He began as an Economics instructor in 1982, and he continued in this instructional capacity until 2004, while also serving as the Chairperson of Humanities and Social Sciences for many years. He has been in senior leadership positions since 2004, as Dean of several Schools and Divisions at RDC and serving as Interim Vice President Academic in 2015. In his current role, Torben has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for RDC to transition to Red Deer University.
Both Paulette and Torben are dedicated, collaborative and knowledgeable leaders, who are committed to Red Deer College and to their communities. On behalf of all of us at RDC, I thank each of you for your many years of outstanding service. You have positively shaped so many learners’ lives, and that is an incredible legacy to leave.
This column was first published in Red Deer Advocate on June 6, 2020.