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Lakehead shares successes, plans for future in Report to Community (6 photos)

University is planning for next round of construction at Orillia campus

Lakehead University has enjoyed steady growth in Orillia since opening a campus here 12 years ago, and that growth is expected to continue.

The university presented its annual Report to Community on Wednesday at the Hawk Ridge Golf Country Club, where statistics were revealed and guests were interviewed about their experiences at the university as well as their current projects.

Dean Jobin-Bevans, principal of the Orillia campus, noted Lakehead is planning for its next build on the University Avenue site.

“We need to look seriously at what the fourth build on campus will be. That next building will be around student services, student themes,” he said.

It could also include more lab and lecture space as well as a focus on Aboriginal education, health and well-being, and athletics.

Details are still being worked out. Consultation has taken place with staff, faculty and students, and the plans will eventually be shared with city and county governments. 

There is a demand for more facilities due, in part, to Lakehead’s growth in terms of research. In 2018, Research Infosource named Lakehead Canada’s Research University of the Year in the undergraduate university category for the fourth year in a row.

As university officials and supporters enjoyed lunch, a student, an alumnus and an assistant professor were interviewed in a talk-show format by Jobin-Bevans.

Bolu Fabanwo, an international student in the bachelor of commerce program, came from Lagos, Nigeria, to study in Orillia.

His father, a chemical engineer, wanted his son to follow in his footsteps.

“He always wanted me to go into the chemical engineer aspect because of the connections he had,” Fabanwo said. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been interested in banking.”

When he first arrived in Orillia and saw the almost-rural nature of the campus, he questioned whether he had made the right decision.

“I was depressed and I was sad, so I locked myself in my room,” he said. “As time went on, I (made) friends, who became like family.”

His uncertainty quickly faded, and now he is president of the multicultural association at the Orillia campus. When he first joined the group, there were four members. Since he took the reins, that number has grown to 40.

Next up was Andrew Petras, who graduated from the commerce program in 2013. In introducing Petras, Jobin-Bevans noted he was one of the youngest people in Canada to obtain both certified financial planner and chartered life underwriter designations.

Petras met his future boss at a networking event hosted by the university. Before he had graduated, he was already going through the interview process.

“I knew I had an interest in business and (Lakehead) opened doors for me,” Petras said.

The third and final guest to be interviewed was Alana Saulnier, criminology program co-ordinator and assistant professor. She updated the audience on her latest research.

Saulnier has been partnering with the Durham Regional Police Service to study the effect of body cameras worn by officers.

“It’s incredibly important that we evaluate the techniques our legal authorities are using, and that they are also evaluating the practices they are using, to produce better evidence-based policy so our legal system is productive and for us,” she said.

Similar studies have been undertaken with police in Toronto and Edmonton, she explained, and they found the cameras had little effect on instances of police use of force.

Her project with Durham police will wrap up later in the new year.

By the numbers

  • Lakehead Orillia has a total impact of $122.7 million on Ontario’s gross domestic product

  • Lakehead’s annual economic impact on the City of Orillia is $80 million to $95 million

  • 47 per cent of full-time undergraduate students on the Orillia campus come from Simcoe County

  • Among its Orillia and Thunder Bay campuses, Lakehead has 1,266 international students (including English language program and exchange students) from more than 50 countries — a 31 per cent increase over the previous year

  • Students have a 94.5 per cent employment rate two years after graduation

Read the complete report here.


Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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