Open Our World makes its public debut
June 05 2012
Athabasca University's Open Our World campaign went public on May 23 and 24 with celebrations in Athabasca and Edmonton attended by about 200 friends, supporters, partners, faculty, staff, alumni and students of AU. And on June 20, the campaign will continue celebrating its successes to date at the Lougheed House in Calgary.
"It's now time to announce the campaign to the public, to make people aware of ... our priorities and to finish the fundraising," said Heather Kennedy, the chair of the Open Our World campaign cabinet, a member of AU's Board of Governors and the vice-president of in situ projects at Suncor Energy.
The campaign, which began in 2008 and is focused on the future of learning, already has much to celebrate - as of May 2012, Open Our World has achieved 75 per cent of its $30-million fundraising goal thanks to the support of over 300 donors.
For the public phase of the campaign, its final phase, Open Our World will focus on four priority areas: student awards, research, community service and learning innovation.
"Athabasca University is a leader and a pioneer in flexible, accessible online learning, and we're focused on the feature of learning," said Kennedy. "To lead us into that future, we need the best resources and support that we can gather. The world is changing more quickly than it ever has, and for education to keep up with that change, and stay relevant, and meet students' needs, which are ever increasing, it's got to be nimble, flexible, accessible and responsive.... AU wants to stay at the forefront of that."
The difference that AU's accessibility and flexibility makes in the lives of students was brought home at the Open Our World celebrations by two AU alumni who addressed the guests.
"Distance learning [through AU] made it possible for me to keep my job while studying, and to be able to study from the community of my choice," said Brian Hall, the alumnus who spoke in Athabasca. "Speaking for myself and I'm sure many of my classmates, few of us would have advanced our education had it not been for the AU distance learning format."
For Heather Ruhl, the alumna who spoke in Edmonton, AU enabled her to finish her degree after life events conspired against her completing the degree at a traditional university.
"When I started looking at finishing my degree ... I spent a year trying to fit in the box I thought I wanted," Ruhl said. After running into roadblocks at other institutions, she received a different response when she approached AU. "Over and over I heard, ‘We can do that, we can do that, we can do that.' And the AU experience did not stop there. My ordinary university program became an extraordinary university program."
The Open Our World campaign cabinet and the president and Board of Governors of Athabasca University invite you to learn more about Open Our World in Calgary on June 20.
Attend the Open Our World celebration on June 20
Celebrating Open Our World
A Campaign for Athabasca University
4 - 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 20
Lougheed House, 707 13 Avenue SW
1-800-788-9041 ext. 7285 (toll-free outside of Edmonton)
By Erin Ottosen