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Randy O’Dell Centre donation received to benefit electrical apprenticeship programs

Estate of the late electrician, and entrepreneur Randy O’Dell  provides largest single legacy donation ever received by SAIT.

A substantial gift was given to SAIT on Nov. 13 to make a new space for certain electrical programs.

The gift is from the estate of Randy O’Dell, founder of O’Dell Electric, who died last year.

A significant initial contribution of $2 million was given to create the Randy O’Dell Centre for Electrical Trades, representing the largest single legacy gift ever received by SAIT.

The centre will span the entire third floor of the Thomas Riley Building on main campus.

“The $2 million is an initial payment — we expect over the coming years that there will be additional funds from Randy’s estate,” said Anthony Salekin, interim associate director of major gifts for alumni and development at SAIT.

What is being installed will help prepare students for today’s workforce, he said.

The plans are to make sure that they’ve got the very latest technological advances in those labs, and that people have access to the best equipment that they can to provide students with support after SAIT, explained Salekin.

A certain amount of funds will hopefully be allocated to fund student awards, which can have a large benefit to the student awardee, added Salekin.

“With student award funding, students may be able to reduce part-time working hours. They may have more time to focus on their studies,” he said.

SAIT graduated apprentices ran through O’Dell’s business, with most apprentices there going through SAIT. Even the current president of O’Dell Electric, Drew Woolsey, is taking his master electrician programs at SAIT.

O’Dell was a passionate advocate for SAIT’s electrical traits programs, and saw the importance of supporting the apprenticeship program at SAIT, said Salekin.

The donation has opened doors according to Lisa Weatherby, interim dean of MacPhail School of Energy.

Weatherby said they’re “investigating opportunities” to bring the Pre-Employment Electrician program, which is currently located at Mayland Heights Campus, to SAIT’s main campus.

“One of the things we’re looking at is to potentially bring that pre-employment program and bring it to the main campus here at SAIT so that students feel more a part of campus and with the other electrical trades as well,” she said.

The gift elevates the program for everyone involved, said Weatherby. With the donation, they can support faculty better, and support students better by having the funding to do it and make it better for employers, she said.

Weatherby sees many students entering the electrical traits program, and praises the gift, as “the most impactful donation SAIT has ever seen, in this nature.”

“We have 2,000 students that come through this program every single year, and if you think about that contextually, for a diploma program, you might have a maximum of 400 students.”

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