On behalf of County Council, County of Simcoe Warden George Cornell officially announced the final instalment of a 10-year commitment from the County of Simcoe to Lakehead University.
The final $500,000 instalment completes a $10-million pledge from the County of Simcoe, which was approved by County Council in 2009, to improve access to postsecondary education across the region.
“Our investment in postsecondary educational institutions supports our economy, helps to expand our labour market and provides local access to world-class education for our residents, including the 756 Simcoe County students currently enrolled at Lakehead University,” said Warden George Cornell.
“Our 10-year funding commitment of $10 million has supported Lakehead’s innovative programming, and ensures that Simcoe County has job-ready candidates to help grow our 16,000 area businesses. This has been a two-way partnership, as Lakehead has embraced our region, supported economic development efforts, and worked with the County on social and community service initiatives. Having a world-class University in Simcoe County is great for our own students and helps to promote our region across the Province and Country.”
For Dr. Moira McPherson, President and Vice-Chancellor of Lakehead University, support from the County has ensured that the university can continue to provide access and unique pathways to education, and extensive opportunities for learning and research.
“Lakehead and County Council have something very special in common: we believe in the important role that postsecondary education plays in creating healthy, thriving communities,” explained McPherson.
Since the opening of Simcoe Hall in 2010, Lakehead University has improved access to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programming with the addition of four degree-diploma programs through the Lakehead-Georgian Partnership; expanded the teacher education program to include Intermediate/Secondary level training; and, opened the doors to improve access to continuing education and professional training opportunities with the establishment of the Office of Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning.
The impact of Lakehead University also extends beyond the borders of the Orillia campus and into our communities – from Collingwood to New Lowell, Midland to Severn Bridge – where students are living, working, and contributing to the social and cultural fabric of their community: completing co-operative education placements, working in local businesses, and giving back through volunteering and community service learning. Annually, Lakehead University contributes $85-to $100 million to the local economy.
“With the consistent, generous support of County Council over the last 10 years, Lakehead has improved access to education by breaking down barriers and offering every student the opportunity to have a transformative educational experience,” McPherson said.
“The most important outcome of your investment in our university is the success of our students, our graduates, and the citizens of tomorrow.”
Lakehead Orillia Principal Dr. Dean Jobin-Bevans, reflecting on the impact of the Orillia campus on the region over the past decade, stated, “The County of Simcoe’s outstanding support of Lakehead University continues to have a significant impact on our local communities, but most especially on the 1,600 students studying on our campus – many of whom hail from Simcoe County. We are proud to be an important part of their journey, and of their life-changing university experience.”
Since 2009, the Lakehead Orillia campus has grown from 819 students to 1,662 today, 45 per cent come from across Simcoe County.
In 2020-2021, Lakehead University experienced a 53 per cent increase in the number of graduate students at the Orillia campus. As well as a 15 per cent increase in the number of international students at Lakehead Orillia this year alone. Today, there are a total of 2,511 Lakehead University alumni – from Thunder Bay and Orillia – living and working in Simcoe County.