Durham College reaches $10 million goal for Building for Skills Campaign

Community support helps open new facility to advance training of skilled trades students

The final $10 million has been raised to complete Durham College’s (DC) Building for Skills Campaign which increases the training capacity on the Whitby campus and transforms the way DC delivers industrial and construction-focused professional and skilled trades training and education.

“Thanks to the incredible generosity and support of our Durham College donor community, we have fully funded – and opened – the state-of-the-art Ontario Power Generation Centre for Skilled Trades and Technology,” said Linda Flynn, associate vice president, Development and Alumni Affairs and executive director, Durham College Foundation. “This achievement would not have been possible without the help of our dedicated community and partners, whose support is an investment in our collective success and our students’ futures.”

The remarkable facility boasts modern technologies and innovative learning spaces and allows DC to increase training capacity for post-secondary and apprenticeship education, provide students with specialized skills training and set graduates up for careers that help address Canada’s skilled trades talent gap.

“With a growing demand for workers with specialized skills across numerous trades and sectors, this expansion and what it means for the future of our workforce couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “We are leading the way by offering dynamic hands-on learning and developing knowledgeable and experienced, skilled graduates who will step into rewarding careers that can make a difference in our local communities.”


DC Alumnus and Bird Mechanical Ltd. CEO Contributes $150,000 to DC Skilled Trades Expansion

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the Whitby campus has received a significant donation of $150,000 from Bird Mechanical Ltd, whose chief executive officer, Brandon Bird is a DC graduate, Alumnus of Distinction, and Premier’s Award nominee. The generous donation will go toward the Building for Skills expansion campaign, which has now raised $5.3 million of its $10 million goal, supporting a 60,000-square-foot addition to DC’s Whitby campus. When completed, the expansion will allow 750 more students to study skilled trades and professions each year. 

“We are extremely grateful for the support of Bird Mechanical Ltd. Brandon is a long-time supporter of his alma mater. He has contributed his time and talent as chair of DC’s Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing Program Advisory Committee, donated in-kind to our skilled trades programs, and is now helping to fund the Building for Skills campaign. This gift will help the college train the next generation of skilled tradespeople and professionals for the benefit of employers across southern Ontario and beyond,” said DC President Don Lovisa.

Working in various roles for his family’s third-generation plumbing and heating company, Brandon knew he would need a solid foundation before he could take over leadership of the business. He enrolled at DC and completed his Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate in 2012. A licensed Red Seal plumber, he returned to the company and continued working his way up the ranks and in 2016, at just 29 years old, Brandon became the youngest CEO in the company’s history. Under his tenure, the business has successfully grown, especially following the acquisition and amalgamation of John McKenzie Plumbing, allowing Bird Mechanical to offer more services and enter new markets, including Atlantic Canada. Brandon continues to strategically expand the business and today, he oversees a team of 100 employees, 70 of whom work as tradespeople.

“Increasing the number of skilled tradespeople being trained by Durham College will help employers meet the need for talent in the construction and industrial trades. We believe in what DC is doing and are pleased to support this campaign,” said Bird.

Construction continues at DC’s Whitby campus with plans to open in fall 2021. For more information on how to support Building for Skills, please contact jennifer.clark@durhamcollege.ca.

DC names Global Classroom in honour of local Rotary Clubs

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the re-naming of its Global Classroom. Inspired by Rotary’s international efforts to promote peace, fight disease, support education and combat poverty, and in honour of local Clubs’ financial support, the space will now be known as Rotary Global Classroom.

The newly named Rotary Global Classroom is used by faculty to expose students to international perspectives. The only one of its kind at an Ontario college, the facility connects students and thought leaders from around the world in real-time to discuss issues of importance and to collaborate on solutions by sharing knowledge and skills. In addition to hosting The Global Class, a course founded by DC professor Lon Appleby dedicated to expanding students’ understanding of world issues, the space is also used for student presentations and competitions, conferences, and collaborations with the community, such as the recent Rotary World Polio Day event.

The Rotary Global Classroom is a landmark feature of DC’s new Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE). Located at the Oshawa campus, construction of the CFCE was funded in part through the Building Something Amazing Campaign and was supported by a collective fundraising campaign involving all 10 Rotary Clubs in Durham Region and the Rotary Club of Port Hope.

“Internationalization is a key focus at Durham College,” says DC President Don Lovisa, “and the Rotary Global Classroom plays an important role in bringing a variety of world views to our campus. Given Rotary’s strong focus on making lasting, positive change across the globe, the name is a perfect fit. The Rotary Global Classroom supports the college’s strategic goals and enhances the learning experience for our students through innovative and transformative education. We are very grateful for all the Clubs’ donations, and pleased to also recognize their financial support through this naming.”

DC is delighted that all Durham Region Rotary Clubs and the Rotary Club of Port Hope chose to participate and gratefully acknowledges the efforts of past Rotary Club presidents Dave Andrews (Oshawa-Parkwood), Ron Dick (Oshawa) and Ken Hurst (Ajax) who spearheaded the donation initiative to support the Building Something Amazing campaign.

“Durham College’s Global Classroom aligns so well with Rotary’s mission,” says Ron Dick, who is also Rotary District 7070’s Governor-elect. “The Classroom is a great asset to the community and we’re delighted to have been able to use it to host World Polio Day celebrations in Durham Region. It made perfect sense for us to support the Building Something Amazing campaign. I think I can speak on behalf of all the participating Clubs in this instance, to say we are honoured to have Rotary’s international work and our contributions recognized through the naming of the Rotary Global Classroom.”

Carpenters Union Local 397 Contributes $100,000 to DC Skilled Trades Expansion

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the fundraising campaign for the Whitby Campus skilled trades and professions expansion has received a significant donation of $100,000 from the Carpenters Union Local 397.

The generous donation will go toward the Building for Skills campaign, which has raised $4.4 million to date, supporting a 60,000 square foot addition to DC’s Whitby campus.  When completed, the expansion will allow 750 more students to study skilled trades and professions each year.

“The Carpenters Union is supporting this expansion because we understand the need to train more young people in the trades,” noted Joel Neville, Local Union Coordinator. “The new facility will provide more room and resources not only to our carpenter apprentices but for the apprentices of many other trades accessing this great new facility.”

In recognition of the Carpenters Union Local 397’s gift, a multi-purpose classroom will carry the name of the union that represents women and men in Durham Region and Northumberland County who work in a variety of construction related skilled trades, including carpentry, drywall and resilient flooring.

Construction continues at DC’s Whitby campus with plans to open in fall 2021.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of organized labour. This generous donation from the Carpenters Union Local 397 demonstrates a dedication to the training of future skilled trades professionals and support for DC’s state-of-the-art facility that will have a positive impact on the workforce of Ontario. This gift will help Durham College continue to develop skilled workers who contribute to a strong economy and vibrant communities,” said DC President Don Lovisa.

Construction begins on Durham College’s Whitby campus Phase IV expansion

On January 16, Durham College (DC) employees, students and members of the broader community gathered at the Whitby campus to celebrate the start of construction on its Phase IV expansion, which has been designed to shine a spotlight on skilled trades training, innovation and education.

Also in attendance were Member of Parliament for Whitby, Ryan Turnbull; Member of Provincial Parliament, Lorne Coe; John Henry, chair for the Regional Municipality of Durham; and Whitby Deputy Mayor Steve Yamada, who, along with DC President Don Lovisa, spoke of the challenges currently facing skilled trades.

“The college continuously hears from its partners that they need more skilled workers and would like new programs developed to focus on emerging industries,” said Lovisa. “Yet in spite of our current efforts, the ability to keep up with the demand remains a challenge due to the physical space constraints at the Whitby campus. For example, the student population has increased by 130 per cent in the past 10 years.”

Given the skilled labour shortage at the regional, provincial and national level, the timing of this new project could not be better. Colleges Ontario forecasts that by 2030 the province will face a skilled labour shortage of more than 500,000 workers.

When it comes to skilled trades at DC, data from the last three years was recently studied, looking at seats available compared to applications for nine trades programs. It was found there were approximately 2,400 seats available, yet the college received approximately 7,000 applications for these programs.

To address this demand, the college has been undertaking development and diversification in Whitby since 2009. Phase IV will result in a 60,000 square-foot expansion, allowing DC to increase its student intake in Whitby by 700 to 750 over three to five years.

“More space will allow the college to focus on high-priority industries – DC’s post-secondary Electrical Engineering Technician, Electrical Techniques, Mechanical Technician – Elevating Devices and Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing programs, as well as the Electrician – Construction and Maintenance, Elevating Devices Mechanic and Plumber apprenticeship programs,” said Rebecca Milburn, executive dean of the School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology and principal at the Whitby campus. “Once complete, this expansion will significantly increase DC’s industrial skilled trades training capacity, while also creating more opportunities to participate in applied research projects to advance innovation and knowledge.”

The following are some of the unique features of the expansion:

  • A double-height shop lab to address the specialized needs of both the mechanical and construction programs. Home to a two-storey building model, the lab will allow plumbing students to work underneath it while elevating devices students will be able to work in an easily accessible dual-level elevator shaft.
  • Classrooms with moveable walls and furniture to accommodate various configurations.
  • Training labs with dedicated space and equipment for a range of post-secondary and apprenticeship programs.
  • Student touchdown spaces.
  • A fitness centre.
  • A food services facility.

Partnering with DC to help fund the expansion is the Town of Whitby, who is generously contributing $1 million over a five-year period to support the construction. A Building for Skills capital campaign will also be launched shortly to generate additional donations.

More information about the Phase IV expansion, as well as construction progress updates can be found at www.durhamcollege.ca/skills.

Three Durham College alumni nominated for 2019 Premier’s Awards

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that, in recognition of their outstanding career success related to their college experience and the significant contributions they have made to their community, three of its alumni have been nominated for Colleges Ontario’s 2019 Premier’s Awards.

Andy Popko, who graduated from DC’s Public Relations program in 1987, has spent over 40 years in the oil and energy sector working closely with western Canada’s Indigenous peoples to develop equitable joint venture partnerships that will protect Indigenous land rights. For his work, Popko was named an honourary Chief at Heart Lake First Nations and also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribal Chiefs Institute in 2003. Presented on behalf of the Treaty 6 Chiefs, Popko is the first non-Indigenous person to be presented with the award. In 2004, he was also recognized as a Durham College Alumni of Distinction. Today, he is vice-president of Aboriginal Relations at NC Services Group Limited and a director at energy start-up Bitcrude. Popko is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Business category.

Over the last ten years, Cailey Jones has worked her way up from volunteer to full-time teacher, vice-principal and finally principal of Botshabelo Urban Kids Educentre (UKE) in Midrand, South Africa. A 2010 graduate of DC’s Early Childhood Education program, she is driven by the knowledge that early access to education can change a child’s life. Over the past nine years, she’s helped build Botshabelo’s preschool program from the ground up, filling a need for children who may not otherwise access preschool education. In her role as principal, she introduced play-based learning, parent workshops, standardized assessment processes, and regular teacher evaluations and training. In 2019, she was recognized as an Alumna of Distinction at Durham College and was a guest speaker during the Global Grad event. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

Bev Woods has given thousands of people a reason to smile over her 39-year career. Since graduating from DC’s Dental Assisting program in 1980 and the Dental Hygiene program in 1986, she has worked in both general practice and public health as a dental hygienist, consultant, and as a member and past president of numerous dental hygiene associations. In 2009, Woods founded Gift from the Heart (GFTH), a non-profit organization and annual one-day event that brings together dental hygienists across the country to offer no-cost dental hygiene services to those unable to afford or access care. The event has provided over $1.2 million in no-cost dental hygiene care to vulnerable populations over the past ten years. In recognition of Woods’ generous work with GFTH and meaningful contributions to dental hygiene and her community, she was recognized as a Durham College Alumna of Distinction in 2019. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

“Using the skills they learned at DC, these three remarkable individuals have built successful and meaningful careers for themselves. We are so proud of their achievements and the impact they are having in their communities and worldwide,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “This is yet another example of how college education provides graduates with the foundation for success.”

This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced during a gala reception on Monday, December 2 in Toronto. For more information about the Premier’s Awards, please visit www.co-awards.org.

DC’s Centre for Collaborative Education has achieved LEED Gold level certification

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that its Centre for Collaborative Education (CFCE), a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED®) certified project, has achieved Gold level certification in LEED’s green building program through the Canada Green Building Council® (CaGBC).

The LEED green building program is the pre-eminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of high-performance green buildings. The certification distinguishes building projects that have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability by meeting the highest performance standards.

“We are thrilled to have achieved LEED Gold certification for the Centre for Collaborative Education, our first on campus, and one of the few LEED certified buildings in Oshawa,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “This accolade highlights just one of the many ways that Durham College is a leader in sustainability. We work hard to create a green-friendly campus that puts the student experience first, while reducing our impact on the environment.”

Of the seven categories the building was evaluated on, the CFCE scored the highest in the Energy and Atmosphere category, receiving full points in energy performance optimization, underscoring the college’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. The CaGBC also awarded points for features such as the CFCE’s Green Cleaning policy, which requires the use of cleaning materials that have a low impact on the environment, and the implementation of a vegetated green roof and reflective roofing, which help reduce heat absorption.

“The use of natural daylighting, a focus on air quality, and the living wall are all aspects of the building that create an environment that encourages visitors to focus more fully and attentively on what they’re doing, whether they’re attending class, studying, or working,” said Alan Dunn, associate vice-president, Facilities and Ancillary Services. “Constructing a building that has achieved such a high standard in minimizing our environmental impact has also increased the knowledge base among our facilities team and raises the bar for ourselves and future projects.”

Located at the college’s Oshawa campus, the multi-level, 75,000-square-foot CFCE prioritizes the student experience and sustainability in all aspects of its design and function and is home to signature learning spaces including the 360insights Entrepreneurship Centre, Global Classroom, First Peoples Indigenous Centre and Durham College Spa.

LEED is a rating system that is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in over 160 countries. Since 2002, the CaGBC and LEED Canada have been redefining the buildings and communities where Canadians live, work and learn. Learn more at cagbc.org/LEED.

Regional Chair’s Classic in memory of Roger Anderson celebrates another successful year

The tradition continued on June 13, as 212 golfers came together for the 22nd-annual Regional Chair’s Classic. Held at the Deer Creek Golf and Country Club, the tournament is one of Durham Region’s most popular and well-established fundraising events.

This year $280,000 was raised to support students in financial need at Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University, as well as child and youth programs at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. This brings the total amount of funds raised since the tournament’s inception to more than $6.8 million.

“Once again the local community has stepped up to support children and youth in Durham Region,” said Regional Chair John Henry. “I want to thank everyone involved in making this year’s tournament a success. It couldn’t be done without the support and generosity of our sponsors and the hard work and dedication of the tournament organizers.”

Karim Mamdani, president and CEO, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences; Dr. Steven Murphy, president, Ontario Tech University; Don Lovisa, president, DC, were on hand for the evening’s cheque presentation, also offering their gratitude on behalf of their respective institutions.

Durham College opens first-of-its-kind Esports Gaming Arena

On April 2, Durham College (DC) officially opened a first-of-its-kind Esports Gaming Arena. Located in the Student Centre at the college’s Oshawa campus, the 3,000-sq-ft. venue is unique from any other collegiate gaming space in Canada thanks to its extensive broadcast capabilities and lounge area that can hold up to 120 spectators for esports tournaments.

“With this venue, DC is establishing itself as an undisputed leader in one of the fastest-growing industries in the gaming market,” says DC president Don Lovisa. “In addition to being the campus gaming hub and training ground for the Durham Lords Esports varsity team, the arena will also be a living lab. Its industry-grade design will provide students with vital hands-on experience to prepare them for career success in the global esports market, which is on track to exceed $1.6 billion by 2021.”

Developed in partnership industry leaders Lenovo (Canada) and Monster Energy, the DC Esports Gaming Arena features include:

  • 46 Legion by Lenovo gaming PCs with added Nvidia GEForce RTX 2080 graphics cards, 12 of which sit behind a glass partition and are reserved for esports varsity players’ training.
  • Streaming capabilities at each gaming station so that players can broadcast their play live on Twitch.
  • Monster Energy DX Racer ergonomic gaming chairs that feature adjustable backs, arms and seats to provide support and comfort and mitigate repetitive stress injuries.
  • Five 55” display monitors and a 110” projector for in-house tournament broadcasting.

“We’ve taken to calling it a gamers’ paradise and it truly is,” says arena manager Sarah Wagg. Unlike other schools’ gaming spaces, the DC arena is designed specifically with the student experience in mind. The lounging and gathering spaces encourage relaxation, connection and fun, and make it a space that welcomes and embraces gamers of all kinds.”

The Esports Gaming Arena is part of DC’s four-part esports plan which also includes the Durham Lords esports varsity team, which began competing with teams across North America in 2018, a recreational gaming club and integration of esports into the college’s post-secondary program curricula.

While use of the gaming stations is reserved for DC students, alumni and employees during regular hours of operation, the Esports Gaming Arena is available for public bookings to host birthday parties, corporate events and gaming tournaments.

Booking inquiries can be made by emailing esports@durhamcollege.ca.

Durham College receives $1 million donation from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to support farming operations

Durham College (DC) is pleased to share that The W. Garfield Weston Foundation (the Foundation) has donated $1 million to fund the expansion of farming operations at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (CFF) to support experiential learning opportunities for DC students.

The success of the Horticulture Technician and Horticulture – Food and Farming programs over the last two years has resulted in a doubling of enrolment and a greater demand for fresh foods from the field. This donation will support the construction of a post-harvest and storage facility, greenhouse expansion and the implementation of container farming, all of which will increase and better process the CFF’s food production, allow for experimentation of newer agriculture practices, and provide students with new experiential learning opportunities.

“The Foundation is pleased to support Durham College and its students once again as they continue to pave the way for a new-generation approach to local food and sustainability,” said Eliza Mitchell, director, the Foundation. “This grant will allow for more food production, new opportunities to teach non-traditional farming and, most importantly, more chances for students to gain critical skills that will put them in demand upon graduation.”

The first half of the Foundation’s donation will go towards building the post-harvest conditioning and storage facility in the spring of 2019. This will improve the CFF’s process operations and farm work flows and provide for long-term storage of produce, while also minimizing food waste. Once completed, the grant will further support greenhouse expansion to increase space and allow for more students, plants and projects, and introduce innovative container farming to allow for small-scale agriculture and year-round growing. The additions will also increase the supply of fresh food coming directly to the CFF’s culinary programs and its business operations, Bistro ’67, Pantry and special events.

“On behalf of Durham College and the CFF, we are tremendously grateful for the generosity and the ongoing support from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation through this thoughtful donation,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “These projects will continue to enhance all of the CFF’s post-secondary programming and provide significant experiential learning benefits to our current students while further positioning us as best in class with our unique field-to-fork model of education and service delivery.”