VIDEO: Vancouver Island University gets $150K infusion from Island Savings

VIU’s Ralph Nilsen, left, and Island Savings’ Randy Bertsch, right, join a group of Cowichan Campus students after the donation announcement. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)VIU’s Ralph Nilsen, left, and Island Savings’ Randy Bertsch, right, join a group of Cowichan Campus students after the donation announcement. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Island Savings’ president Randy Bertsch, in tea-themed hat, talks about how the credit union and VIU like to reach out into the community. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Island Savings’ president Randy Bertsch, in tea-themed hat, talks about how the credit union and VIU like to reach out into the community. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Dr. Ralph Nilsen, president and vice-chancellor of VIU, says there’s a real need in Cowichan to get students to continue their education after high school. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Dr. Ralph Nilsen, president and vice-chancellor of VIU, says there’s a real need in Cowichan to get students to continue their education after high school. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Cowichan campus academic administrator Warren Weir explains that this is a big moment for VIU in Duncan. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Cowichan campus academic administrator Warren Weir explains that this is a big moment for VIU in Duncan. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Candace Bowen, a fourth-year nursing student says everyone is excited about expanding the VIU facilities. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Candace Bowen, a fourth-year nursing student says everyone is excited about expanding the VIU facilities. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Whitney Harris, a fourth-year student in child care thanks Island Savings for the donation of $150K to the university. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)Whitney Harris, a fourth-year student in child care thanks Island Savings for the donation of $150K to the university. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
It’s a Mad Hatters Tea Party in the roof garden for the big announcement. Four of the Island Savings attendees are: Dave Campbell, Robin Marshall, Samantha Olaussen, and Chris Waddell. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)It’s a Mad Hatters Tea Party in the roof garden for the big announcement. Four of the Island Savings attendees are: Dave Campbell, Robin Marshall, Samantha Olaussen, and Chris Waddell. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

VIU is getting $150,000 over the next five years from Island Savings.

The rooftop garden at VIU in Duncan was set up for a celebration tea party on Wednesday, Sept. 19 as a large crowd from both the university and the credit union were on hand to share in the announcement.

Randy Bertsch, president of Island Savings, called it “a significant investment to help support students and programs while helping move communities forward,” saying the decision had been made “in recognition of the important role that Vancouver Island University plays in the communities it serves.”

Warren Weir, academic administrator of the Cowichan campus, and Dr. Ralph Nilsen, president and vice-chancellor of Vancouver Island University, Candace Bowen, fourth year bachelor of nursing student, and Whitney Harris, fourth year child and youth care student, spoke for various aspects of the university.

Bertsch described the “investment in students”.

“We have been a long-time supporter of Vancouver Island University through bursaries, scholarships and support of their child and outreach programs because we believe in what they do, and that the importance of having continuing education in our own backyard is critical. It’s for these reasons that I am extremely happy to announce today on behalf of Island Savings and all of our members and employees that we will be providing VIU $150,000 over the next five years to support capital projects and enhance the student experience.

“These projects include a new health and science centre, an expanded and redeveloped marine, automotive, and trades complex and a district geo-exchange energy system. Who would have thought that, a few years ago? The capital projects will enhance VIU’s reputation as a destination for hands-on, real-world, technology-driven teaching and learning, and alleviate overcrowding.”

This is important because enrolment in some programs is expected to keep growing, he said.

“Not only do we support VIU’s mission to make education more accessible and affordable for everyone but what is amazing about these capital projects is that they provide students with more educational opportunities locally.”

Nilsen said, “It’s pure joy when I hear words like that.”

He told the crowd that VIU needs to reach out.

“We can’t just simply be isolated as a building…and wait for students to come to us and give them the knowledge we think they need. We have to constantly understand what the pressures are. What are the issues? Why do we have such an incredibly high level of poverty amongst youth in our communities? Why is it that we are not getting the transition to post secondary that we should in these regions, that we are the lowest in the province?”

Financial institutions like Island Savings are valuable partners in helping to ready students for a changing community, he said.

“The kind of investment that [the credit union] is making today goes to the heart of what we do. The gift today is about providing the best possible learning environment that we can.”

Faculty and students really benefit from these boundary-spanning partnerships, he said.

Bowen said nursing students have a long, hard, four-year program, but she’s had a chance to see the enhanced facility in Nanaimo.

“I’m pretty envious of the nurses who get to use this new building. I’ve been talking to them, getting feedback and they say, ‘As soon as we were in the door we were in the simulation labs, we were in the classrooms looking to see what they gave us because we wanted that space.’

“They listened. That building is designed for nurses to study, the technology is there. There’s a positive energy in that building.’”

Harris said a recent practicum gave her the chance to connect with VIU’s donors, particularly Island Savings.

“During our first year, our programs utilized all of the funding donated by Island Savings for food for children and youth in the community. We anticipated program need and social support but not the need these children were experiencing.”

The money helped in a very real way, she said, adding, “Some of these children and youth had not eaten since the previous day.”

According to Harris and Bowen, providing more learning spaces at the university, new technology, and more programs, gives students the chance “to really love where they learn.”

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