Durham College president Don Lovisa is looking forward to the celebrations the college has in store in a couple months.
Durham College, along with the 15 other Ontario colleges, opened their doors in 1967, with the others following just before and after that date. They will be participating in events to celebrate their 50th anniversary at the start of next year.
Durham College has been planning the celebration for more than a year through an internal committee consisting of about 35 students, alumni, faculty and retirees.
Every month will host a different event that Lovisa hopes will draw in past and current students on campus.
The first event in January will be a hockey game between the Oshawa Generals and the Hamilton Bulldogs at the Tribute Communities Centre.
An interactive tour bus will be making its first stop at Durham College in September and will continue to travel to the other colleges in Ontario. It will provide a glance back through the 50 years of the college system.
“We hope to draw a lot of alumni back on campus for the various events for a bit of a homecoming,” says Lovisa.
In 1965 the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology was founded to provide more access to higher education, as well as accommodating for the different learning styles of students that universities otherwise could not provide.
The 24 colleges in Ontario now serve about 220,000 full-time and 300,000 part time students, according to the Report on Education in Ontario Colleges.
Many alumni of Durham College have left the region, according to Lovisa. One of the biggest challenges the committee faces, is trying to reach out and create a noise and buzz loud enough to bring them back and share their stories with current students.
“We probably have 75,000, 76,000 alumni,” says Lovisa. “Our biggest challenge is trying to communicate and trying to get alumni from around the world to come back or to get into the celebration.”
Every college throughout Ontario will be running a Speaker Series with alumni.
“We want people to talk about the college system. We want them to talk about their experience in the college system and how it has helped them in their careers and in their lives, so that the next generation understands what the colleges provide,” says Lovisa.
Lovisa has spent time in the community meeting a lot of people who went to college in the last 50 years.
“I get to experience so much. Meeting the alumni and listening to people’s stories and meeting current students…it’s incredible what people do [after] they graduate from college,” he says.
Some alumni have gone off to become presidents and co-founders of their own companies as well as executives of corporations.
Meeting these people and listening to their success stories is very rewarding in his job as an educator and president, Lovisa says.
“Those are the things that tell us that we’re doing a good job. One of the greatest things about working in education is that you know you have a job that’s helping people succeed and you’re changing people’s lives through learning,” Lovisa says.
Lovisa believes there is always this impression of students needing to go to university to be successful.
“That’s just not the case,” says Lovisa. “As I meet college graduates in the community, some have gone on to university, but they started at college.”