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Olds College Receives Generous $2 million Gift to Support Enhanced Student Learning

March 29, 2022

Olds College is pleased to announce it has received a $2 million gift from Bob and Carollyne Collier in support of enhancing the learning experiences of students within the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology.

The funds will go towards the development and delivery of enhanced academic programming and providing students with opportunities to attend conferences, forums, educational courses, guest lecturers and speakers. Additionally, the funds will help support smart ag applied research and the development of the Olds College Smart Farm as a cutting-edge learning, demonstration and applied research environment for students, producers and the agriculture sector here in Alberta and throughout the globe. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of Bob and Carollyne Collier,” comments Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College. “On behalf of Olds College I would like to sincerely thank Bob and Carollyne for their continued support of our students and the agriculture industry.”

Bob and Carollyne Collier were first introduced to Olds College through Bob’s membership in the Alberta Flying Farmers (AFF) Association. While he had personally flown over the College many times, it was during an annual general meeting for the AFF in 2017 that both Bob and Carollyne met Alex Villenauve, a student entrepreneur in the Brewmaster and Brew Operations program, who sparked their interest in supporting entrepreneurial-minded students at the College. 

Inspired by the creativity and initiative of Alex, Bob and Carollyne established the Bob Collier Award with a generous pledge of $300,000 over ten years in support of student innovation and entrepreneurship at Olds College. Nominated by instructional staff, the student recipients of the five annual awards receive a bursary of $6,000. “We wanted to create an award that provided financial assistance to deserving students at Olds College who embodied creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit,” comments Carollyne Collier. 

Additional donation support from Bob and Carollyne went towards the construction of The Hive, a state-of-art student lounge that was recently established in the College’s Learning Resource Centre. 

In recognition of their recent $2 million gift, the heart of the new Ag-Tech Learning Hub will be named the Bob & Carollyne Collier Student Commons and will be a central gathering space for students, faculty and guests of Olds College. The Student Commons will act as an informal learning space for students to study, meet, relax, or socialize and will feature a design focused on technology essentials, helping students thrive in a modern educational environment. The Ag-Tech Learning Hub is on track to open for classes in September 2022.

“We continue to be so inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit shown by the students who receive our annual award each year,” comments Carollyne Collier. “We hope that the students look up at the beautiful ceiling in the Student Commons and feel inspired to take on any challenge that comes their way.”

As the first born son of Irish immigrants, Bob spent his childhood working on his family's farm located just outside of Caster, Alberta. Upon graduating high school, Bob ventured to Calgary and enrolled at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) where he received his Heavy Duty Diesel Mechanic certification, and later his Master Electrician certification. Bob continued to work on his family’s farm during the summer months while completing his studies and then working as an Electrician in Calgary, during the winter months. 

While working in Calgary, Bob developed an interest in the real estate industry. During the late 1950’s, he began investing in properties in the Calgary area, which quickly developed into a burgeoning business of rental properties and apartments. With over 50 years in the real estate game, Bob is a true entrepreneur who is focused on investing in the next generation of business  and agriculture leaders.

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