KELOWNA - A retired employee who assembled an impressive career that spanned 30 years and five days will be recognized by Okanagan College with the Distinguished Service award at the College’s Summer Convocation ceremony on June 29 in Kelowna.
Rick Gee, former Chair of Okanagan College’s Education Council and longtime professor of Computer Science, has left an indelible mark on the institution’s curriculum and program development after dedicating more than three decades to supporting students and enhancing academic standards.
President Jim Hamilton, whose career with the College began just five year prior to Gee’s, recalls him as a cornerstone of the institution.
“Rick’s contribution to Okanagan College has been immense,” says Hamilton. “His name was synonymous with Education Council and in that role he became the keeper of educational quality in programming. He has done much to build the institution’s reputation for academic excellence.”
Gee joined the College on July 26, 1985 as a College Professor of Computer Science. Throughout his tenure at the College he served as department chair on three separate occasions, contributing 17 years altogether in the role.
He was elected to the College’s Education Council, the body that is responsible for setting curriculum content, academic standards and policies, eventually becoming Chair in 2008.
Gee was responsible for the development of two degree programs during his time at Okanagan College and Okanagan University College, the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems and the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He was also the 2013 recipient of the Career Achievement award at the College’s Employee Excellence recognition ceremony.
With 30 years of experiences to reflect upon, Gee says his most memorable moments at the College occurred in the classroom.
“My favourite part was the teaching,” says Gee. “Seeing the light bulbs go on is something that brought me a lot of joy. I also worked with some very interesting and intelligent people over the years.”
In addition to his scholarly contributions Gee was a longtime volunteer and supporter of initiatives like the College’s Career Fair. He dedicated his personal time to support the College community at events such as the annual Clean the Creek, wading in the murky waters of Fascieux Creek at the Kelowna campus to remove garbage and waste.
Gee retired on July 31, 2015. Those who knew him well remember him as a meticulous editor and someone who could advocate on behalf of a comma with an unmatched passion.
“Rick was a stickler for detail, punctuation, grammar and consistency who also had the ability to focus on the big picture of student success,” says Dianne Crommer, who worked beside Gee on Education Council for many years. “Outside of his contributions to the College, he is also a tireless volunteer in the community and is someone who did a lot of great work, much of it very quietly and on his own time.”
Gee is an active member and current president of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and the director responsible for snowshoeing for the Kelowna Nordic Ski Club. He also volunteers with the NatureKids Kelowna. He dedicates his time to leading people on snowshoeing adventures.
“Rick was very committed to the College and had students at the heart of everything he did,” said Yvonne Moritz, Dean of Science, Technology and Health at Okanagan College. “He was often the driving force on committees to ensure that ideas came to fruition and his many contributions will be long standing.”