The trades training centre at Okanagan College received a seven-figure helping hand on Friday.
The family of Ron Jacobsen donated $1 million to the college’s trades training complex in Kelowna. Jacobsen owned and operated a car dealership in Kelowna for more than 40 years. The donation was made in honour of the late husband and father.
“My dad always wanted to give back to the community that supported him,” said Rhonda Jacobsen-Lebedoff. “As someone who loved and valued the importance of learning and improving, he would be delighted to know his success is supporting future automotive leaders.”
Okanagan College said this is the largest donation it’s ever received, and that it will accelerate automotive training and open doors for students for years to come. In honour of the donation, the college is naming part of the trades building as the Ron Jacobsen Pathway to Excellence.
“This gift gets to the heart of what we set out to do in revitalizing and expanding our trades training facilities at the Kelowna campus – providing our students with a world-class learning environment, helping to address the skills gap and needs of employers, and elevating the skilled trades as a career path, something Ron championed through his leadership and commitment to excellence,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.
“On behalf of everyone at Okanagan College, I’d like to express our gratitude to the Jacobsen family for this remarkable support, which will help us continue to create access and advance training for the next generation of automotive trades people. There will be generations of students who walk along the corridor and appreciate the legacy of Ron, and – like him – will tread the pathway to excellence.”
Steve Moores, the College’s dean of trades and apprenticeship, says the funds will help the College invest in equipment, education and infrastructure to ensure students are prepared to work on the hybrid and electric vehicles of today and tomorrow.
“We know from speaking with employers that as new technology emerges and becomes more mainstream, the sector will require technicians who are adept with hybrid and electric engines, alternative fuels and so on,” said Moores. “This gift will help us to put in place the training, equipment and shop facilities to stay ahead of the curve.”
The gift announcement marks the close of the Okanagan College Foundation’s fundraising campaign for its Kelowna trades training complex —a $33-million project that started in 2014.