RDC celebrates student success and achievements at 54th Convocation Ceremonies

Date posted: 
Thu, 05/31/2018
Red Deer College Convocation Ceremonies

When Red Deer College celebrates its 54th Convocation ceremonies on Friday, June 1, 592 out of 1,950 eligible graduates will cross the stage to celebrate their achievements.

“The number of graduates that will cross the stage makes this the largest Convocation day we have had in RDC’s 54-year history,” says Joel Ward, President & CEO. “All of us at RDC are so proud to celebrate and to honour the accomplishments of our students.”

At RDC’s 54th Convocation, an Honorary Degree will be presented to Dr. Timothy Richards in recognition of his unparalleled contributions to agricultural economics, to training and mentoring students and to leading change across North America in the agribusiness sector. Originally from central Alberta, Dr. Richards began his professional journey as an Economics student at RDC, and he later instructed at the College. Since then, he has gone on to become one of the foremost researchers and educators in his field, with a focus on reducing food waste, which will have real-world applications across North America and beyond.

“Red Deer College is proud to bestow this honour upon Dr. Richards,” says Morris Flewwelling, RDC Board Chair. “Throughout his notable career, he has demonstrated an absolute and total commitment to making a difference in his field, and he embodies the values that are symbolized by a Red Deer College Honorary Degree.”

Two outstanding students will also be recognized for their exceptional contributions to academics and to the community. During the morning ceremony, the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze Level) will be presented by Earl Dreeshen, Member of Parliament for Red Deer-Mountain View, to Gillian Coulton. Coulton had the highest academic standing of all RDC diploma students this year, as she completed the final year of her diploma-level post-secondary program in Visual Arts. 

“The Governor General’s Academic Bronze Medal represents outstanding scholarly achievement that speaks to dedication and hard work on the part of the student,” says Dr. Paulette Hanna, Vice President, Academic. “It is a privilege to see a deserving student be presented with this Award each year, and Gillian Coulton’s academic record sets her apart, making her a worthy recipient of this medal.”

During the afternoon ceremony, the Red Deer College Foundation Outstanding Student Award will be presented to Brittany Lessard for her leadership and commitment to RDC. 

“This Award acknowledges a student who has demonstrated exceptional contributions to the College and the community,” says Holly Dickson, Chair of RDC’s Foundation Board. “With her tremendous contributions as a student leader across a variety of groups and her extensive work to support the needs of both current and future students, Brittany is a very deserving recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Student Award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship presented by the Red Deer College Foundation.” 

Red Deer College 54th Convocation Ceremonies
Friday, June 1 | Ceremonies in Prairie Pavilion at Westerner Park
Morning ceremony – 9:30 a.m. | Afternoon ceremony – 2:00 p.m.

Additional details about Convocation are available at rdc.ab.ca/convocation.


Dr. Timothy Richards to receive Honorary Degree at RDC's 54th Convocation

Dr. Timothy Richards has distinguished himself as one of leading agricultural economists in North America. Raised on his family’s dairy farm in the Horn Hill district south of Red Deer, Dr. Richards’ professional journey began in Red Deer College’s Bachelor of Commerce university transfer program in 1984. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of British Columbia, majoring in finance and economics, with a focus on agricultural economics.

He pursued graduate studies at Stanford University in California. While working on his Ph.D. dissertation, Dr. Richards returned to Alberta, where he taught for a year at the University of Lethbridge, a year at Red Deer College and a year at the University of Alberta. Upon completion of his Ph.D. in 1994, he joined Arizona State University, which has been his professional home ever since.

At Arizona State University, Dr. Richards is a professor in the Morrison School of Agribusiness, holding the Marvin and June Morrison Chair in Agribusiness. Through his extensive research and publications, as well as his teaching and mentorship, Dr. Richards is considered one of the best and most influential agricultural and applied economists today.

He has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles published in approximately 30 different peer-reviewed journals in the United States, Canada and Europe. Much of his work has appeared in top journals specializing in agricultural economics, but he also has numerous publications in highly ranked economics journals across a variety of disciplines. Dr. Richards has received a remarkable 11 best journal article of the year awards, and he has served on the editorial boards for five journals. His recent appointment as co-editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics is perhaps his most significant professional honour.

Dr. Richards has a talent for identifying critical problems facing food and agribusiness, and he implements state-of-the-art methods and data analyses to address these problems. His work has real-world impacts, as demonstrated by one of his current projects testing online marketplaces and mobile apps to assess how emerging sharing-economy companies are helping farmers reduce the amount of otherwise edible food that is currently being wasted. Reducing food waste will have many positive impacts, as it will improve our ability to feed a growing population, reduce landfill loads, and make better use of scarce irrigation water and farm land. 

In addition to his wide variety of professional contributions, Dr. Richards is also deeply committed to mentoring students and faculty colleagues. His intellectual leadership has helped foster the careers of many in the profession. He is always generous in including other scholars on his research projects, particularly young faculty and students, and he challenges others to be intellectually curious and to approach scholarship with enthusiasm and creativity.

Dr. Richards is a gifted economist and a passionate teacher and scholar who values collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches to solve complex issues.

Dr. Timothy Richards will receive an Honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Red Deer College’s 54th Convocation ceremonies.

Gillian Coulton to receive Governor General's Academic Bronze Medal 

Gillian Coulton started in the Visual Arts Diploma program at Red Deer College in the fall of 2016. With a strong passion for the arts, Gillian enrolled in this program because of her desire to develop her skills as an artist. Originally from Consort, Alberta, she chose Red Deer College because of its ideal location in central Alberta, and she was also drawn to the size of the Visual Arts program and the accessibility of the studio spaces.

Once at RDC, Gillian found something to love about every area of her program, and she found that her courses were more interconnected than she had previously considered. The program opened new doors for her in many ways. Before coming to the College, her primary focus was on painting and, while that still remains one of her greatest passions, she was surprised by how much she has come to love sculpture, a previously unexplored area.

Throughout her program, Gillian has developed a newfound ability to learn, adapt and grow, especially in areas where she initially had no experience, and also in the face of unique projects that she had never considered previously.

And her passion for her program is evident in the academic excellence she has achieved. Two years into her education, Gillian has graduated from her diploma program, earning six A+ grades and an overall GPA of 4.0. Gillian is honoured to be recognized with the Governor General’s Academic Medal for her high academic achievement. This award encourages her to continue exceeding her own expectations as she learns and grows in her academic fields and in every aspect of her life.

Looking ahead, Gillian intends to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary. No matter where her road leads, she will continue to pursue her lifelong passion for visual arts. She hopes to find employment either as an artist or as a teacher, so that she can continue to interact with people who are interested and creative in the field of visual arts.

Gillian Coulton will receive the Governor General’s Academic Medal (Collegiate Bronze Level) at RDC’s 54th Convocation on June 1, 2018.


Brittany Lessard to receive RDC Foundation Outstanding Student Award

Brittany Lessard is passionate about Red Deer College, and she has dedicated herself to being a leader, role model and volunteer for a wide variety of groups across the College. Since first starting her RDC journey in the fall of 2014, Brittany has immersed herself in the campus community, with a range of roles that include serving as a Student Council member on the Students’ Association of Red Deer College Council, spending countless hours volunteering at events, taking on a variety of roles for the Education Undergrad Society and providing leadership as captain of her Campus Rec hockey team.

As part of the Students’ Association Council, Brittany has had the privilege of helping to shape student life across the College and being part of the RDC legacy. She has been involved with mental health initiatives through the Students’ Association, sitting on the mental health subcommittee, where she has put forward many initiatives and provided extensive volunteerism. Brittany has also served on the Education Undergrad Society for the past two years, first as Treasurer and then as President in 2017-18.

While contributing extensively to College life, Brittany has also pursued her professional passion, as she is following her true calling to be a teacher. She is part of the learning buddies program, coordinated by the Education Undergrad Society, which helps children with homework and other learning assistance. She has also been a tutor with the Learning Disabilities Association in central Alberta for two years, and she worked as a development aide with a special needs preschool.

Brittany has been elected to the Students’ Association Executive Team and will serve as the VP Community & Wellness for the 2018-19 year. In this role, she will be responsible for organizing and promoting functions and awareness campaigns, connecting with student groups and playing an active role in the development of student life. Looking ahead, Brittany is excited to complete her Education degree and become a middle years teacher.

Brittany Lessard will receive the Red Deer College Foundation Outstanding Student Award at RDC’s 54th Convocation on June 1, 2018.


– 30 –


For additional information contact:
Shelley Newman
Communications Strategist – Corporate

Brent Forster
Communications Strategist – Corporate