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Canada’s first publicly-funded community college turns 60

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge College celebrates 60th anniversary'
Lethbridge College celebrates 60th anniversary
WATCH ABOVE: Lethbridge College celebrating a major milestone today: the post-secondary institution is turning 60 years old. As Erik Mikkelsen explains, it wasn't just a birthday party this morning: there was also an exciting announcement about the school's past, present and future – Nov 1, 2016

Balloons, cake and a lot of excitement were all part of the celebration marking Lethbridge College’s 60th anniversary.

It was Canada’s first publicly-funded community college when it opened in 1957 and has grown tremendously.

“We’ve gone, in 60 years, from two programs to over 50 and from 28 students to over 4,500 students,” Lethbridge College President and CEO, Dr. Paula Burns, said.

READ MORE: Mature students add to spike in enrolment at Lethbridge College

Tuesday’s kick-off to the 60-week celebration was also a major fundraising announcement. The Possibilities are Endless campaign aimed to secure more than $100 million in capital projects and initiatives, including a hefty private donation goal.

The college announced the private fundraising goal of $25 million in May of 2013. Tuesday it was announced that the goal was surpassed by 10 per cent, raising $27.8 million in private donations.

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“This goes to students,” Joyanne Mitchell, manager of Development and Alumni Relations at the college said. “It supports facilities that they are going to learn in, it supports access to education, it supports strong programming.”

“Surpassing it means more dollars going to students and a strong economy locally. It feels great.”

READ MORE: Global’s Lisa Ford honoured with Lethbridge Career Virtuoso Award

Students will also benefit in the form of awards. Burns said the campaign’s goal was to raise $2.5 million for student scholarships, but far exceeded that total.

“There was over $4.5 million raised towards student scholarships which means that so many people have access to education at Lethbridge College that didn’t have it before,” Burns said.

Over the next 60 weeks, the college will be celebrating its rich history in a lead up to the final celebration in the fall of 2017, where it will fully open the doors to students to the brand new trades and technologies building.

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