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Don Lovisa, President of Durham College

Education in today's world is certainly changing, and sitting down to chat with the president of Durham College, Don Lovisa, gave me a great insight into the current world of education. It was also a good opportunity to learn about the person running this fantastic institution in Durham Region.


Don Lovisa has been the president of Durham College since 2010 and has been instrumental in the college's success. During his tenure, the college achieved some of its greatest successes, such as becoming the largest teaching-focused college in Ontario. He has also seen the college become one of the few colleges to receive multiple awards for its teaching excellence and to boast a 95 percent employment rate among its graduates.

Under his leadership, Durham College has also become a leader in workforce training and innovation, as well as a prominent innovator in the field of e-learning. The college has also become a major contributor to the Durham Region's economic growth by providing quality education and helping create many employment opportunities in the region.

Don Lovisa has often been described as a visionary leader who is not afraid to push for positive change. He has used his ability to think outside the box to drive the college's development. He has worked with government, industry, and community partners, to ensure Durham College can best serve the students and the region. In addition, he has also worked to raise funds for the college, mentored students, and encouraged faculty innovation.

Don Lovisa has also used his experience to build relationships between the college and the companies which hire its graduates. He has implemented strategies to support student success in the workplace, help employers identify the best candidates, and raise the college's profile among employers.

The college shares its grounds with Ontario Tech University, as well as a few buildings, such as the sports complex, but other than that, they are quite autonomous from each other. Don explained how, initially, the college was expected to act as a feeder institution for the University, but now it is the exact opposite. Many students who attend Ontario Tech (formerly UOIT), have turned to Durham College for their continued studies.

I asked what some of the benefits of attending Durham College were for people. Don went into detail and explained how the college enables students to specialize in the subject, industry, and career of their choice. Students in the Durham College community are sustained by a supportive learning environment, an outstanding faculty and dedicated staff, and a variety of challenging academic and extracurricular opportunities. At Durham College, students gain knowledge and skills, develop professional networks, and build relationships with faculty, staff and other students, all while pursuing their educational dreams.

Durham College boasts a highly skilled faculty, offering advice and guidance to students on their academic and professional pursuits. Faculty members are renowned for their expertise and research, having written textbooks and published them in leading academic journals. Students are also able to take advantage of the college's advanced research laboratories, providing them with the skills and knowledge to become competent professionals in their chosen fields.

Attending Durham College provides numerous opportunities for students to get involved in student activities. Durham College has a wide range of clubs and societies across its four campuses, allowing students to stay connected with each other and the college community. Through these student organizations, Durham College students can explore their interests, meet new people, build lasting friendships, and develop the professional skills and connections required for post-secondary success.

Durham College also offers financial benefits to students. They offer generous bursaries and scholarships to students who demonstrate financial need. This assistance can help students cover the cost of tuition and other expenses associated with attending college. Additionally, Durham College publishes a student budget, helping students plan and manage their finances.

Finally, attending Durham College ensures students graduate with an exceptional college education. Durham College is ranked among the top 15 colleges in Canada. The college offers high-quality education in a challenging, supportive and innovative learning environment. Students gain a well-rounded college education by attending Durham College, preparing them for professional success.

In conclusion, the advantages of attending Durham College are numerous. The college's advanced resources, faculty, student activities, and financial assistance, ensure students have the support required for successful college experiences. Additionally, the college's longstanding reputation for excellence, ensures students graduate with an outstanding education, enabling them to pursue their careers.

Don Lovisa was born in Fort Frances and started working in retail while still in high school. The company was called McTaggart's clothing, and Don eventually opened a store for them in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

When Don was 24, he felt he had gained enough knowledge and experience to start his own menswear store, which he did in Fort Frances. Unfortunately, he went bankrupt five years later, but it was that experience which enabled him to relate to businesses and the issues they face, and to help them overcome hurdles, which he himself experienced.

Don met a fellow from the entrepreneurial arm of Confederation College and made his way into the education system, as a small business consultant. "As someone who had gone bankrupt," Don explained, "I convinced the Dean that I could help other people not make the same mistakes."

The concept worked, and after a few years, Don moved to Thunder Bay as a Dean. In 2007, he moved to Oshawa to begin his tenure at Durham College as Vice President, Academic.

Don has been very influential in the lives of many people, and after hearing about his life's journey and his passion for what he does, I can truly say he is the right man for the job.


Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, 'Jonathan van Bilsen's photosNtravel', on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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