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OPG renews support for Durham College, Ontario Tech with $5-million investment

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will continue its decade-long collaboration with Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University through a new $5-million investment.

“It’s important for us to invest in the next generation of talent to help power Ontario’s energy workforce,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG president and CEO. “This is a dynamic time for the energy industry, as we move toward electrification and efficient economy-wide decarbonization. We know this partnership will ensure the right people with the right skills are ready to be the generation to power the future to meet Ontario’s increasing electricity needs.”

The funding will assist in recruiting and retaining students—including those currently under-represented in the industry, such as women and Indigenous people—to build a diverse population of potential employees for the energy sector in skilled trades, science, engineering and technology. Much of this will focus on technology development in the energy sector for climate change initiatives, including:

  • Electrification, particularly in the transportation sector
  • New nuclear, including small modular reactors
  • Renewable generation projects

The funding will be provided in annual installments over five years.

“As a leader in post-secondary trades and technology education, we are preparing our students to be career-ready as they pursue a future in highly specialized sectors that are facing a critical labour shortage,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “Continuing our partnership with OPG will support innovative capital projects that enhance our training facilities, as well as provide vital financial support for traditionally underrepresented groups in skilled trades, technology and science careers.”

The partnership also focuses on research and development to support OPG’s Climate Change Plan, as well as digital and data innovation including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, augmented and virtual reality.

“Ontario Tech University deeply values its foundational partnership with OPG, whose investment in our innovative programs and high-tech research infrastructure helps prepare career-ready graduates who excel in the changing energy landscape,” said Dr. Steven Murphy, president and vice-chancellor, Ontario Tech University. “The partnership has always been a natural fit, with energy making up the university’s greatest applied research strength. We look forward to charting a bold energy future for Canada with OPG in the years to come.”

The three partners have long collaborated to meet the need for career-ready energy sector workers and provide training opportunities to OPG employees to build skills through industry-related college and university programs.

A recent donation through OPG’s Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability supported construction of DC’s new Centre for Skilled Trades and Technology at its Whitby campus and highlights OPG’s ongoing commitment to the development of skilled trades and training.

OPG has also worked with Ontario Tech to assist the university in establishing industry-responsive and market-driven academic programs, including micro-credentials and upskilling opportunities.

Under the terms of the renewed partnership, the college and university will work together on the implementation of bridging programs between the two institutions to produce graduates with a greater range of technical skills and knowledge.

Recognizing Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On September 30, Durham College (DC) recognized Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by hosting a number of events to help foster understanding and a commitment to change. These included the sharing of personal pledges from DC students and employees online and in-person, and a screening of the film Indian Horse.

The Naanaagide’endamowin Courtyard

In addition, members of the campus community gathered in the courtyard of the Centre for Collaborative Education for a special ceremony to signal its transformation into an outdoor education space dedicated to Indigenous education.

Dr. Elder Shirley Williams began the event by offering an opening prayer before announcing the space’s Anishnaabemowin name. Now known as the Naanaagide’endamowin Courtyard, which means The Art of Thinking, plans for further Indigenization were also revealed, including the creation of gardens to grow Sacred Medicines, and the installation of QR codes near the various elements throughout the courtyard, which will link to the First Peoples Indigenous Centre webpage and provide information about Indigenous Ways of Knowing.

One element already in place was a newly planted weeping willow tree to commemorate the Indigenous children who did not make it home from Indian Residential, Day and Industrial Schools. Long recognized for its pain-relieving medicinal properties, the weeping willow signifies strength. Its pliable limbs can bend without breaking, signifying the resilience and adaptability of Indigenous communities.

The hope is that the DC community, sheltered under the branches of the weeping willow, will use the courtyard for reflection and quiet contemplation on the lives that were forever altered by the Indian Residential School system, remembering those children who never returned to the loving care of their communities. It will also serve as a place where individuals can review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, considering what they can do personally and professionally to ensure that the calls to action are fully realized.

For more information about the First Peoples Indigenous Centre at DC visit

Durham College launches The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture

When it comes to food and farming in Canada, there are a number of challenges to consider, both within the industry and broader community. There are opportunities to adopt more sustainable and regenerative practices, and address potential skills gaps – the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council predicts 123,000 agricultural jobs will go unfilled by 2029 – with Ontario accounting for the majority of Canada’s agricultural labour gap. There are also concerns about food access issues and food insecurity – according to the Dieticians of Canada, one in eight Canadian households do not have enough money to buy safe, nutritious food.

To combat these challenges, while championing excellence and innovation in urban farming, Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce the official launch of The Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture (The Barrett Centre). Established thanks to a $5-million donation from The Barrett Family Foundation, its vision is to become an internationally recognized hub of excellence in urban agriculture practices, research, education and training.

“The Barrett Centre is an amplification and expansion of all the expertise we’ve gained bringing the field-to-fork philosophy to life each and every day in our food, farming and horticulture programs”, said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “The knowledge and experience gained from turning unused fields into a vibrant crop-bearing farm serves as a solid foundation for what The Barrett Centre will accomplish, and we are looking forward to continuing to lead the way together, with The Barrett Foundation, our students, faculty and the community.”

At the heart of the work will be the building of a dynamic new urban farm that will be developed as a community-inspired living lab in the coming years. In addition, the centre will:  

  • Enhance the existing urban farm at the Durham College Whitby campus.
  • Become a source for information, support and coaching for traditionally underserved and marginalized communities when it comes to urban agriculture initiatives including food security. 
  • Create a comprehensive and connected array of educational programs and materials in urban agriculture will be to meet growing employment needs.
  • Create dozens of new opportunities in the years ahead for students to gain experience working on urban farms and in roles supporting the operations.
  • Become home to a team of highly respected experts working to establish it as an internationally recognized hub of knowledge around sustainable urban agriculture. 

Our goal as a foundation is to partner with organizations that positively impact communities, locally and globally,” said Bob Barrett, The Barrett Family Foundation. “With its focus on sustainable agriculture, coupled with student learning and research, The Barrett Centre stands to do just that. We are really looking forward to seeing all the great work that will be achieved.”

For more information about the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture visit

Durham College kicks off 2021-2022 academic year

This fall, more than 11,400 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students have chosen Durham College (DC) as the next step in their academic journey, helping them get job-ready through the best in innovative and transformative education. Included in that number are more than 5,500 first-year students, and 2,000 new and returning international students from 74 countries. Another 7,000 students are also gaining new skills and knowledge via part-time studies.

With the increase in vaccination rates across Ontario leading to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, approximately 65 per cent of DC students are also joining their peers on campus this fall, with 73 per cent of programs offering an in-person component this semester.

“We are thrilled to kick off this academic year by welcoming students to our on-campus and virtual learning spaces,” said Dr. Elaine Popp, executive vice president, Academic. “Whether studying face-to-face, remotely or a combination of both, Durham College is preparing students to be leaders in their chosen field by helping them develop an exceptional theoretical foundation of knowledge and providing access to unique and interactive experiential learning opportunities. We can’t wait to see what amazing things our students accomplish.”

This year’s cohort of students includes the inaugural class of DC’s Honours Bachelor of Artificial Intelligence degree program, Behavioural Science Technician diploma program and Pharmaceutical Science graduate certificate program.

The college is also significantly expanding its industrial trades training capacity, with students in select programs excited to begin their year learning in the brand new 60,000 sq. ft. Centre for Skilled Trades and Technology at the Whitby campus. The facility, which includes a double-height shop lab, new classrooms and student touchdown spaces, among other features, is home to DC’s post-secondary Electrical Engineering TechnicianElectrical TechniquesMechanical Technician – Elevating Devices and Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing programs, and the Electrician – Construction and Maintenance, Elevating Devices Mechanic and Plumber apprenticeship programs.

“The energy on campus is unmistakeable – students and employees alike are excited for the fall semester to be under way and we’re all looking forward to a rewarding year ahead,” said DC President Don Lovisa. “We are optimistic that the winter semester will see most of our students back on campus, and are continuing to lead the way as an institution where students can dive into a fully immersive educational experience that supports them on their path toward a meaningful career.”

First-year students welcomed to DC through virtual and in-person Orientation activities

Durham College (DC) welcomed a new cohort of first-year domestic and international students to campus last week for the fall semester through a mix of virtual and in-person Orientation activities to kick off the 2021-2022 academic year.

Designed to help new students transition to college, Orientation is a time-honoured tradition that provides the opportunity for first-years to meet staff and faculty, explore student services, get to know the college’s Oshawa and Whitby campuses, and learn more about program expectations, all while developing new friendships.

Festivities began with an in-person Campus Kit pick-up event, where students could take a campus tour, enjoy a refreshing treat, meet members of the Durham College Student Association (DCSA), and attend an in-person Ask a Student, or parent and family session. It was followed by virtual Orientation for International students and online program welcome sessions with faculty and school leadership teams.

Later in the week, DC celebrated the fall semester through a number of exciting social events to help students meet new friends, discover opportunities to get involved on campus, and make the most of their time at DC. Events included the First Day of School Smudge and Prayer, an International Student Social, DCSA Picnic Party, DC’s Price is Right Challenge, Virtual Deal or No Deal, DCSA Movie Night, Virtual Pride Collective Trivia Night, Yoga on the Lawn, the Get Involved and Service Fair, and more.

Closing out Orientation on September 15, all new and returning students were invited to show their DC pride at the 2021 Campus Cup, an annual exhibition soccer match between DC and its campus partner, Ontario Tech University.

With great participation in the various virtual and in-person sessions and activities, Orientation 2021 was an exciting start to a new academic year.

Music Business Management grads strike a chord with new record deal

Breaking into the music industry has always been the dream for Durham College (DC) alumni Dan Hand and Kyle Wilton. Both graduates of DC’s Music Business Management (MBM) program, their paths crossed recently when Dan – an artist manager at Inside Pocket Music – officially signed Kyle’s band, Excuses Excuses and helped secure a deal with Known Accomplice Record Co., a Canadian label with an impressive roster of artists, including The Trews, Headstone and Sam Roberts Band.

“We’re thrilled to have two well-deserving alumni from the college’s Music Business Management program embracing what they’ve learned and seizing new opportunities,” said Greg Murphy, executive dean, School of Media, Art & Design. “We look forward to following along as they make their way in the competitive music industry.”

Hired directly from his third-year internship to an independent record label, Dan held multiple positions at the indie label before accepting a job at Universal Music Canada and opening his first artist management and services business, Cloud Empire Creative, in 2013. In 2016, Dan started his second artist management company while evolving Cloud Empire Creative into a corporate talent buying and booking business, which closed its doors last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017, Dan joined the Inside Pocket Music staff bringing his artist management roster with him.

Kyle has been navigating Canada’s grassroots music scene and developing his band since 2016. Following the self-release of three EPs and an extensive tour of Canada’s club circuit, Excuses Excuses was awarded a sound recording grant from The Foundation Assisting Canada Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) in January 2020, which opened many doors, including the opportunity to record their debut album.

For years, Kyle and Dan have been nurturing a successful working relationship, fostered by perseverance, creativity and a shared love for music. Prior to enrolling at DC, Kyle met Dan – who was already an alumnus of the MBM program – at a music showcase and kept in touch, often meeting at local performances and sharing his new music for feedback.

“In late 2019, Kyle approached me with new material, and it all just aligned and made sense,” said Dan. “The talent Kyle and his band had was undeniable, and after seeing how he worked to evolve and improve his craft over the years, I knew we could both bring something to the table.”

When it comes to their time in DC’s MBM program, both Dan and Kyle share an appreciation for the sense of community and support among the students.

“The nature of the MBM program helped immensely to always have the support of our peers and professors at local shows,” explained Kyle. “Completing the MBM program while establishing ourselves as a band helped me understand and navigate my rights as a creator, allowing me to apply the knowledge and ideas I learned in the program to my own reality.”

From an artist management perspective, Dan experienced real-world scenarios in the MBM program, taking full advantage of every opportunity in his third-year placement. From networking with guest speakers, to participating in on- and off-campus events, Dan was eager to dive into as many opportunities as possible, and develop meaningful relationships with his classmates and peers, who he knew would someday be his colleagues.

After overcoming many hurdles, Kyle is excited to see what the future holds for Excuses Excuses, and their new manager, Dan. “I am blown away by what our team has been able to accomplish and I’m looking forward to releasing our new record to the world and getting back on the road, stronger than ever,” said Kyle.

DC sets the tone for the year ahead at Academic Kickoff 2021

On August 31 Durham College (DC) more than 480 employees gathered virtually for Academic Kickoff 2021. Led by Executive Vice President, Academic, Dr. Elaine Popp, this annual event offers an opportunity for colleagues to come together for engaging discussions and presentations in anticipation of the coming school year.

The program included presentations from colleagues about successes and lessons learned during the past year, and how their efforts supported the goals of DC’s Academic Plan. Student shout outs to faculty were also shared. The event culminated with a keynote address from Ajay Agrawal, who is founder of the Creative Destruction Lab, as well as the Geoffrey Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Discussing Artificial Intelligence (AI) from an economics perspective, Agrawal delved into its role in prediction and how it can be applied in a variety of settings, including the classroom. He also explored how AI is becoming more accessible and less costly, making it easier to solve today’s challenges with greater accuracy and success.

Following the keynote presentation, DC’s chief administrative officer, Dr. Scott Blakey, announced this year’s nominees for the Employee Awards of Excellence. Presented each year to one employee in the administrative, support staff and faculty groups, the awards recognize their outstanding contributions to the college and broader community. This year there is also the addition of a new category to recognize the contributions of teams or departments from throughout the college. All the winners will be announced in mid-September.

With the majority of classes starting on Wednesday, September 8, the entire DC community is well prepared and looking forward to another year of leading the way in teaching and learning.

DC music business grad launches first annual Vietnam Music Week

Since graduating from the Music Business Administration (MBA) program at Durham College (DC) in 2018, Thao Nghiem has been in tune with emerging trends in the Canadian and international music industries. Currently based in Toronto, Thao’s latest initiative as co-founder of the Vietnam Music Industry Network (VMIN) has introduced exciting opportunities to support the music industry in her native country while honouring her Vietnamese culture.

In June 2021, after three years of planning, Thao and her VMIN partners successfully launched the first annual Vietnam Music Week (VMW). With more than 250 attendees, this five-day virtual conference featured 30 guest speakers, companies and organizations, and offered engaging panel discussions, keynote presentations and success stories.

“It’s rewarding to see our grads applying the skills they’ve learned at Durham College and establishing themselves as respected professionals in the music industry,” says Greg Murphy, dean, School of Media, Art & Design (MAD).

The inspiration for VMW was sparked by her involvement with the VMIN community, which offers access to free, industry-related news and resources, job boards, events and other exclusive opportunities.

“Popular music and its consumption are at a fever pitch in Vietnam and many other Asian countries, and my partners and I were inspired to provide a platform for education, collaboration and networking that could lead to growth for individual music creators and the Vietnamese music industry,” explains Thao.The more I learned about Canadian and international music industries, the clearer the opportunities became to apply my knowledge and support my music community back home.”

Thao has been working as a Label Licensing and Royalty Liaison at the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) in Toronto. Representing music rights holders and offering various licensing services, her role has helped build a foundation for her own entrepreneurial ventures. Her mentor, Tony Sutherland, a professor in DC’s MBA program, participated as a guest speaker during VMW, leading a series of workshops, such as: Composition, Copyright, and Music Education; Music Applications Outside the Industry; and Musical Performance and Advertising Collaboration.

“Vietnam Music Week is a great initiative that fosters collaboration and education,” says Tony Sutherland. “Together, with industry professionals from across the globe, attendees gain insights about the current music industry landscape and potential opportunities for growth.”

During her time at DC, Thao developed meaningful connections on campus and in the community, acting as co-founder and co-director of the Oshawa Music Awards, an event dedicated to celebrating music and talent within Durham Region.

My experience in the MBA program at Durham College was my gateway into the music industry,” explains Thao. “The experienced faculty members were encouraging and supportive, and I especially benefitted from the hands-on experiences offered through workshops and practicum.”

With planning already underway for next year, Thao and her team are excited to shape VMW into an annual event for those who are interested in learning, collaborating and fostering the growth of the music industry in Vietnam and beyond.

DC students win media awards for video and podcast produced in Guatemala

In February 2020, a group of Durham College (DC) students spent five days in Las Arrugas, Guatemala – a small, remote Mayan village – as part of a Faculty-led Classroom Abroad. During that time and following the trip, the students undertook media projects inspired by their visit – two of which were recently recognized with accolades from the 2021 Canadian Media Educators (CME) National Student Awards.

Ryan Beaton, a Video Production student, and Tara Sottile, a Journalism – Mass Media student, won in the Best Corporate/Client-Based Production category for their video We Are SOS, which was produced for the organization Students Offering Support. In addition, Meagan Secord, a Journalism – Mass Media student, won Best Podcast or Current Affairs Show for her powerful podcast Les Femmes: Strong Women Aren’t Born, They’re Raised, which looks at the impact of the Guatemalan civil war on the women who are now mothers in Las Arrugas. The podcast has also been shared online by Global Affairs Canada’s Fund for Innovation and Transformation

“These awards underscore the transformative impact that Faculty-led Classrooms Abroad and experiential learning opportunities have on our students,” said Danielle Harder, a former CBC journalist and a professor in the School of Media, Art & Design. “Their understanding of Guatemala, its people and its culture is reflected in the high-calibre pieces Ryan, Tara and Meagan produced, and I’m thrilled that their work has been recognized.”

Faculty-led Classroom Abroad opportunities at DC involve students travelling with a faculty member to another country. These for-credit programs are typically 10 to 12 days in length, and faculty members, in cooperation with DC’s International Education office, customize unique learning experiences that aim to bridge the curriculum with the local culture and teach students the skills needed to adapt, thrive and succeed in an increasingly globalized world.

The CME National Student Awards program recognizes and rewards the unique combination of creativity and technical excellence demonstrated by students in radio, television/video, new media/animation, game design and photography programs taught in CME member institutions.

DC’s Business Plan and Annual Report are now available

Durham College (DC) is pleased to share both its 2020-2021 Annual Report and 2021-2022 Business Plan.

“In looking back at the year that’s been, while also mapping out our objectives and goals for the current year, we’ve had the opportunity to see the college’s mission – Together we’re leading the way – truly come to life,” said Don Lovisa, president. “Working, teaching and learning during a global pandemic has presented us with challenges. Despite the uncertainty we’ve faced, DC’s Annual Report shares incredible stories of adaptability and innovation, while the Business Plan capitalizes on all we’ve achieved during the past year, to help drive our success and chart our course for the future.”

Both documents can be viewed online in interactive and PDF formats.