“If that proposal is found to be favourable, then we’ll be a reality,” said Dr. Jon Ohlhauser, project manager for the college. “We’re very confident we’ll find favour for the final funding.”
Hope College will be a health field focused school – plans now involve three different start-up diploma courses: licensed practical nursing, physical therapy assistant, and business administration.
Plans are to build programs to the degree level, once student numbers grow over the first five years of the institute’s life. Dr. Ohlhauser said they plan to add three programs per year for the first five years Hope College is operating.
“We will ask what the best opportunities to teach in Drumheller are, as far as practicum placements, and what job placements are available in town and in surrounding rural communities,” Dr. Ohlhauser said.
“After that, we hope to see programs in the areas of environmental studies, environmental technologies, deeper into the business areas, and perhaps communications,” he said. “But that is far down the road.”
In aim of becoming a “destination college”, Hope College’s programs will entice students to travel across the province – bringing money and a new workforce. Projections indicate in their tenth year of operation, the school will have between 800-900 students, Dr. Ohlhauser said.
“It would be a tremendous shot in the arm for the economy and in terms of events in the community,” he said.
The opening of Hope College is planned for the fall of 2012, Dr. Ohlhauser said, after plans to begin in fall 2011 were delayed because their Alberta Rural Development Fund application was denied this autumn.
Currently, the college is eyeing two locations: the old hospital on Riverside Drive and St. Anthony’s once they move to their new school on North Dinosaur Trail. Residences for out-of-town students will be provided.
Dr. Ohlhauser says interest from the Drumheller Health Centre has been received, adding that Drumheller is one of few communities in Alberta without a resident college. “They’ve expressed interest in working with students located at a college within the community – it allows them to integrate more into the community when they live there.”
“Drumheller has seen the development of post-secondary education as a key economic development piece,” says Dr. Ohlhauser. “If we can get a college residence in our community, that would allow so many more additional economic pieces to move forward.
“It’s not something that develops in isolation and has no impact on the community,” he said.
As part of the proposal, Hope College wishes to provide response from the community regarding the school. Public functions will be held soon to communicate with residents. Dates have not yet been set.
“With this approval, our spirits have been encouraged and we wish to pass on support from the community to the (Alberta Rural Development Fund)", said Dr. Ohlhauser.