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ORSIE wins bronze in 2020 CICan Awards of Excellence

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that our Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) has received bronze in the 2020 Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) Awards of Excellence in the Applied Research and Innovation Excellence Award category. CICan announced this year’s winners today in a media release. CICan is a national organization representing publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs and polytechnics in Canada and internationally.

“Durham College takes great pride in CICan recognizing our decade of leadership in providing business solutions and student training,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “Under the leadership of Debbie McKee Demczyk, the ORSIE team continuously demonstrates an incredible ability to anticipate emerging trends and provide consultative, collaborative services that meet the needs of businesses, all while providing significant hands-on learning experiences for students.”

The CICan award recognizes ORSIE’s extraordinary contributions to the DC campus community and the team’s role in supporting social, cultural and economic development at local, provincial, national and global levels. Winners of the Applied Research and Innovation Excellence Award category are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Institutional commitment: evidence within the last five years of commitment in building the institutional capacity to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and social innovation in the community.
  • Impact on SMEs: evidence within the last five years of new or improved products, processes, services that enhance profile and market opportunities.
  • Impact on communities and regions: evidence of enhanced collaboration with companies, community partners, local associations and organizations that have a significant and sustainable impact on local or regional innovation.
  • Impact on students: demonstrated application of skills into workplace settings, with a focus on the capacity to engage in innovation and entrepreneurship activities. Must be supported with data.

The long list of ORSIE’s accomplishments since it first opened in 2009 includes the launch of four applied research centres on campus – the AI Hub, Centre for Craft Brewing Innovation, Mixed-Reality Capture Studio and Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation – as well as supporting entrepreneurship and social innovation through FastStart and Enactus, which enable students to use their creativity and skills to develop solutions to real-world challenges while contributing to the economic growth of their communities.

“Since ORSIE launched, research at Durham College has accelerated at an exhilarating pace,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, ORSIE. “We entered into 2020 on the wave of success enjoyed last year that saw us achieve all-time highs on an expanding number of initiatives. The dedicated faculty, staff and students continue to demonstrate exceptional hard work and commitment in their pursuit of excellence. Their work is cutting-edge and impactful at every level.”

Learn about ORSIE’s work in these areas and more, including its leadership in autonomous vehicle applied research.


Durham College begins construction on new women’s softball facility

Durham College (DC) and its Athletics department are pleased to share that construction on a new women’s softball facility at the Oshawa campus has commenced, with plans to complete by August 2020. The facility, which will include 100-per-cent synthetic SPORTURF playing surface with an underlay shock pad for safety, will become the new home of DC’s award-winning women’s softball program.

The new softball facility will give DC the ability to host provincial, national and international games and special showcase camps, as well it will house new campus recreational programs for students. A seating capacity of 400 people, including 100 VIP seats, and a custom press box at the top of the stadium bleachers will allow for livestreaming of home games and VIP hosting.

Replacing the current halogen light system will be state-of-the-art MUSCO LED energy-efficient stadium lights to eliminate light spill. This new feature will also provide the capability to match light requirement levels for broadcast TV.

 “I am so excited to see this facility become a reality,” said DC athletic director Ken Babcock. “We will have an amazing new home for our highly successful championship women’s softball program and with our colder climate and weather, the artificial turf will allow us to extend the playing season on both ends. This will soon be the best place to play women’s softball in the country.”

Other features of the new softball facility include: team studio dugouts, dual batting tunnels for training, bullpens, a new scoreboard, maintenance storage and equipment, coaches’ room and an umpire change room. New team change rooms will be completed during Phase 2 of the project, which is estimated to begin summer 2021.

DC’s women’s softball team has won an unprecedented record twenty OCAA championships over the past 39 years, including four in the past five years alone.


DC achieves second silver STARS sustainability rating

Following an intensive assessment, Durham College (DC) has succeeded in achieving a second silver rating from the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS), offered through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), for its on-campus sustainability initiatives.

DC first achieved its silver rating in 2017; the college first joined AASHE in 2009 and achieved a bronze STARS rating in 2012. A tremendous amount of work went into achieving and maintaining silver status with employees from numerous departments and schools across DC contributing to the collection of data required to support the application.

Highlights of new initiatives undertaken by DC since first achieving a silver rating include:

  • Over 600 courses offered by the college that include social and environmental sustainability themes.
  • Launch of a campus-wide Green Office Certification Program.
  • The Centre for Collaborative Education became DC’s first LEED certified building.
  • Opening of new geothermal field and Energy Innovation Centre at the Oshawa campus.
  • Receipt of a SIEMENS research grant for building sustainability into new course curriculum development.
  • Recertification of the CFF as a 3-star certified Green Restaurant Association (GRA) facility, and 20 staff members achieving certified GRA green employee status.

Environmental responsibility and sustainability remain key areas of focus for the entire campus community. DC is committed to a path of continuous improvement and sustainable development across both the Oshawa and Whitby campuses and the Pickering Learning Site to increase green activities and operationalize sustainability programs across the college. These include the use of solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, co-mingle waste bins and low-flow toilets, all of which contributed to achieving the silver rating.

STARS is a comprehensive tool that compares the sustainability initiatives of participating colleges and universities by focusing on several key areas including education and research; operations; planning; and administration and engagement, with each category holding a percentage-based score.

AASHE has extensive participation from several universities and colleges throughout North America. This group of institutions creates networking opportunities to advance sustainability through sharing ideas and opening dialogues on behalf of the diverse community AASHE effects. Administrators, faculty, staff and students all contribute to improve sustainability and demonstrate the value of collaboration on these initiatives.


DC honours healthcare heroes during National Nursing Week 2020

Durham College (DC) is proud to join Canadians across the country in observing National Nursing Week 2020 from Monday, May 11 to Sunday, May 17. We are honouring DC healthcare heroes in particular – our nursing faculty and employees, both present and past, and the thousands of nursing students and alumni who have entrusted us with their training and preparation to not only enter a career but to answer a calling.

The theme of this year’s celebration, as decided by the International Council of Nurses, is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Nursing the World to Health. It is intended to recognize how nurses are central to addressing a wide range of health challenges. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s theme also captures the ways in which nurses find themselves at the heart of the frontlines.

Working across a wide variety of specialized healthcare areas that include public health, gerontology, pediatrics, mental health, critical care and much more, nurses draw on their clinical judgement and expertise to provide compassionate care to keep the public, nursing home residents and patients safe while providing them with much needed comfort.

Beyond our deep appreciation for the work nurses do, DC remains committed to providing exceptional education and opportunities for professional development at every stage of their careers.

Please join us in thanking nurses this week and every week year-round.


Durham College President Don Lovisa’s contract extended for a fourth term

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that President Don Lovisa’s contract has been extended for a fourth term. He will remain in the role until March 31, 2024 with an option to renew at that time.

Lovisa, who is DC’s fifth president, was appointed to the role in 2008. Since then, the college has thrived under his leadership, experiencing significant strategic growth in enrolment, research, capital development and market-driven programs.

From the development of the Whitby campus, including a new student residence and the start of its phase IV expansion in support of skilled trades, to the new Centre for Collaborative Education at the Oshawa campus, DC’s physical footprint has grown thanks to Lovisa’s vision, with at least one major capital project completed each year since 2010.

Developing alongside its infrastructure has been the college’s applied research centres. Now with four distinct areas of focus – entrepreneurship, craft brewing, artificial intelligence and mixed reality capture – DC continues to raise the bar for innovation, while supporting student development and community businesses.

During Lovisa’s tenure, the college has also launched two bachelor degree programs and increased its focus on experiential learning both in and out of the classroom, which has contributed to an 85 per cent increase in total enrolments (domestic and international) since 2008.

As the current chair of Colleges Ontario, Lovisa is able to share his experience as a community builder, directly influencing the broader college system across the province.

“It is a great honour to continue in my role as president,” said Lovisa. “Creating, building and working with great colleagues is key to our success and I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments we have achieved as a team. While the past few months have been filled with challenges and uncertainty, I am confident that together, our DC community will continue to support one another, leading the way for a bright future. As a college we are entering this new decade at the forefront of post-secondary education.”

The DC Board of Governors, who oversee the president’s role, is confident Lovisa’s leadership will continue to guide the college through the next phase of its evolution.

“We are inspired by President Lovisa’s unwavering commitment to DC and look forward to seeing all the college will achieve during his fourth term and beyond,” said Ivan DeJong, chair, DC Board of Governors.


DC students finish in Top 25 and move on to national finals of SSHRC Storytellers competition

Calling on their creativity and narrative skill, a team of four Durham College (DC) students have made it to the Top 25 in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) 2020 Storytellers competition for their video There Is Hope, which they wrote and produced together.

The short film showcases the impactful research being done by Lorraine Closs, a professor in the School of Health and Community Services, as she works collaboratively with community organizations to re-design a housing hub support network for youth living on their own in Durham Region. The project, which is funded by the College and Community Social Innovation Fund, is in its second and final year and is being completed with support from DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

As one of 19 post-secondary institutions across Canada to make it to the Top 25, DC is proud of its student team, which includes research assistants Meagan Secord, Daniel Forsythe, and Brandon Ramphal, as well as Video Production student Ryan Beaton, who volunteered his time to lead the production of the short film.

As finalists, the team has been awarded a $3,000 prize and the opportunity to compete in the Storytellers Showcase at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences from May 29 to June 4, 2021 at the University of Alberta. The final five winners chosen at that event will be featured at SSHRC’s Impact Awards ceremony in fall 2021.

Held annually, SSHRC’s Storytellers competition challenges post-secondary students from across the country to tell a research story—in up to three minutes or 300 words—of how SSHRC-funded research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians.

Congratulations to Meagan, Daniel, Brandon, and Ryan and good luck!


DC salutes frontline workers on First Responders Day

On this First Responders Day in Ontario, Durham College (DC) recognizes the ways in which this year’s observance carries unique significance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DC community salutes and thanks those who are dedicated to serving and protecting others in an emergency and well beyond every day. This includes the employees and students who returned to the frontline during this pandemic, present and past faculty and employees, and thousands of alumni.

While our gratitude to first responders remains unwavering year-round, First Responders Day offers us a special moment to reflect on and honour the contributions of police officers, firefighters, military personnel, dispatchers, paramedics, nurses, doctors, emergency medical technicians, emergency managers and medical evacuation pilots.

DC also recognizes the vital need to acknowledge and extend appreciation to the many other professionals who suddenly find themselves taking personal risk and making sacrifices similar to those that have long been the domain of first responders.

Thank you to the workers who are providing skills, support and expertise in the areas of mental health and addictions, developmental service, personal support and social services; skilled trades; security and corrections; and healthcare office administration, to name but a few.

There is perhaps no greater test of one’s learning and training than the challenge of working in the midst of a large-scale emergency such as a pandemic.

In addition to our deep appreciation, DC employees take great pride in continuing to help prepare and support our first responders and frontline workers at all stages of their careers.


DC Virtual Open House engages 2,300+ visitors in online experience

On April 25, more than 2,300 prospective students and their families explored Durham College (DC) – digitally. The college’s first-ever Virtual Open House was a huge success, providing guests an inside look at the DC student experience from the comfort of their homes.

DC welcomed guests from over 90 countries around the globe for virtual visits that included videos and live sessions about more than 140 career-focused programs, supportive student services, accessing financial aid, among many other topics. There were also virtual tours of campus spaces, including learning environments, residence and wellness facilities. Attendees also had the chance to enter to win a $1,000 tuition credit.

Within virtual rooms and information sessions, guests were able to live chat with faculty and staff, ensuring questions were answered in real time and providing the meaningful connections between visitors and DC community members that are a hallmark of the in-person event.

Developed in response to COVID-19’s impact on the annual Spring Open House, one of DC’s most popular events, the virtual edition came together quickly through the incredible efforts of employees from every corner of the college.

For anyone who missed the live event or who wants to revisit for more information, Virtual Open House resources are still available at www.durhamcollege.ca/openhouse.


DC Journalism students put learning to work, gain real-work experience creating COVID-cation podcast

Faced with COVID-19-related cancellations and postponements of their field placements, six Durham College Journalism – Mass Media students decided to create their own real-work experience.

The result is COVID-cation, a weekly podcast created by students for students. Each episode focuses on a specific theme – from education to emotional wellbeing to finances – while exploring the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on students of all ages. Working under the supervision of their professor, Danielle Harder, the team oversees all aspects of development, production and deployment of the podcast and supporting materials, allowing them to put their classroom learning to the ultimate test.

In addition to honing their story development and audio and video skills, the students are gaining valuable real-work experience and content for their portfolios in the areas of on-air hosting, social media management, website development, online publishing and much more by doing journalism work on multiple platforms.

Watch the Global News Durham story profiling the students behind COVID-cation.


Enactus DC cashes in again with Money Makes Cents project

The Enactus Durham College (Enactus DC) team took 2020 regional runner up in its National CWB Financial Education Challenge league with the Money Makes Cents project. The achievement marked the team’s highest result ever in the competition and was won against a competitive field of 40 colleges and universities from across Ontario and Quebec.

Money Makes Cents is a project conceived by Enactus DC in partnership with the Region of Durham Social Services Department that offers tax assistance and income tax return resources for low income families by bringing mobile tax clinics and financial education to disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

This year Money Makes Cents was instrumental in increasing tax returns by $7 million for those who need the money most in Durham Region. The project also launched Durham Tax Help, an online hub that enables the recruitment of volunteers, financial coaching and scaling to more than 20 partners across the region.

The project team of DC students presented the project virtually at the annual Enactus Canada Regional Exposition event.

Enactus is an international non-profit organization dedicated to creating social change through entrepreneurship. DC launched its chapter in 2016 through FastStartDC, the college’s entrepreneurship centre, to create a club of student leaders looking to make a positive economic and social impact on society.