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Retirees' spirit lives on in today's Bow Valley College

Retirees give current employees an appreciation for the work they did to build our post-secondary school.

Almost 50 retirees and former employees came to Bow Valley College for a spirited and inspiring reunion at a luncheon on September 14. They filled the room with a glow of warmth and friendship accumulated over the course of decades of working together at Bow Valley College, known to many of the guests during their era as AVC (Alberta Vocational Centre, then Alberta Vocational College). The gathering brought centuries of collective wisdom and experience to campus that inspired everyone who attended.

“It was a real privilege to meet the people who built Bow Valley College,” says Mario Siciliano, Vice President External. “They created an incredibly solid foundation and have put us in an excellent position to move forward into the future.”

The luncheon was both intimate and lively. There were hugs all around, and lots of laughter, reminiscing and catching up. Organizer and Fund Development Officer Stacey Smith recalled in her address to the assembled guests that Bow Valley College has humble roots — a handful of learners gathering in the basement of the administration building at SAIT in 1963. They attended what was then known at the Canadian Vocational Training Centre to upgrade their high school education, then called vocational preparatory training.

“That single class morphed into an idea that would eventually give renewed opportunities to hundreds of thousands of learners to achieve their career and personal goals and led directly to the establishment of the Alberta Vocational Centre (AVC) and to today’s Bow Valley College,” Stacey said in her address.
 
Laura Jo Gunter, President and CEO of Bow Valley College, saluted the group in her remarks for their many contributions, and shared an overview of the institution’s plan for the path ahead.

A panel of three former employees entertained the luncheon crowd with reminiscences of their days working at AVC. Beth Cunningham served in multiple roles from 1965-1984, including Vice President Academic. Joanne Brunner was one of the first AVC employees, from 1964 to 1970. Larry Katz was director of Computers in Education from 1981 to 1984. He shared his memories of installing the first computer lab at AVC.

The oldest of the retirees was 95-year-old Bryce Chase, a counsellor with AVC. When asked about the secret of his longevity, he responded “I’ve never been in a really bad argument in my whole life.” He added that he has lived an interesting life and had always had interesting jobs in his career in the Air Force and in civilian life. He was particularly fond of his time at AVC. He reminisced about the learners he helped to complete their education, proud moments in his career.

“I love this place,” he says. “The atmosphere here was so good.” 

After lunch, members of the group went on one of three arranged tours: to the new nursing lab, the technology and computer labs, or Learner Success Services. They came away with a view of the ever-evolving Bow Valley College and greater appreciation of their role in its success — and renewed friendships with old colleagues. 

See our retirees’ Bow Valley College experience in pictures in this video. For photos of the luncheon, view our Flickr gallery. 

Posted on September 18, 2018

Story by Anne Georg, photo by Chris Bolin

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