An organization of retired B.C. college and institute faculty is making a big difference for the next generation of Okanagan College students.
The College and Institute Retirees Association of B.C. has given the Okanagan College Foundation a $14,800 endowment to start a new award – the Tony Williams memorial scholarship.
Tony Williams retired from teaching sociology at Okanagan University College in 1999, having been made an honorary lifetime member of the OUC Faculty Association, now the Okanagan College Faculty Association. He founded CIRA-BC in 2001 as a provincewide independent voice for retired faculty and remained its president until his death in 2003.
“By establishing an endowment, CIRA is honouring the memory of a dedicated and visionary Okanagan College employee and leader in our association, while ensuring the success of future generations of learners,” said CIRA president Ashley Dermer.
The CIRA award marks the second time the former sociology professor’s leadership skills have been recognized. Faculty, who remembered Williams as a strong advocate who stood up for human rights and principles, decided to create a bursary in his name.
“He saw it as his role to go in there and fight the battles that needed to be fought,” said retired Okanagan College English professor Michael Griffin, who knew Williams and worked alongside him in CIRA’s early days.
“Tony pushed his students to investigate, to ask questions. That was his nature.”
This new fund will provide awards for Okanagan College students enrolled in a university studies program.
Kathy Butler, Okanagan College Foundation executive director, said the endowment will result in an annual scholarship of about $500 that will help students for generations to come.
“A scholarship like this helps with things like the cost of books. That can make a real difference for our older students who typically have higher financial needs than those starting post-secondary straight out of high school.”