$1 million gift to college

Okanagan College received its largest single donation ever at the Kelowna campus on Friday.

Kelowna's Jacobsen family has gifted $1 million to the college's automotive trades program.

Rhonda Jacobsen-Lebedoff made the announcement on behalf of her brother Shayne, mother Muriel and late father Ron.

For more than 40 years, Ron Jacobsen operated Jacobsen Pontiac Buick in Kelowna.

"In my speech, I talked about the support my mother and father had been giving to Okanagan College over the years, and my dad did always feel very strongly about education, top technology and helping students with their careers," said Jacobsen-Lebedoff.

"It is a sizeable cheque, and we're very proud to be able to donate it to the college."

The donation began with a phone call that college president Jim Hamilton admitted "made his pulse rate go up a little bit," when he learned of its size.

"We had a series of meetings after the call. I got to know them and figured out what would be the best memorial for Ron, meet the family's needs and serves the college well," said Hamilton.

Hamilton says some of the money will go to creating two new programs, an alternative fuel training program and a new technician course that will be a two-year diploma program. Both are scheduled to be launched in about a year.

Some of the money will go toward a "refresh" of the automotive shop, while a large sum will funnel back to students.

"Probably the most important thing of all is about $250,000 will end up in the hands of students in the form of scholarships and bursaries," said Hamilton.

The college also unveiled a study and corridor space named the Ron Jacobsen Pathway to Excellence.

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