DC prez Lovisa: Taking care of business

Photo by Laura Metcalfe

Don Lovisa meets with prospective students an Open House last year.

After ten years of hard work and community involvement, Durham College president Don Lovisa has grown the campus into what he believes is one of Canada’s best.

During his time at the helm, Lovisa has grown DC student enrolment to more than 11,000 from 7,000 students, implemented around 50 new programs, turned the school into one of Durham Region’s largest employers, invested $180 million in campus renovations and has helped better Durham’s transit system.

Those are some of the reasons why Lovisa has been named Business Person of the Year by the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.

The award recognizes and celebrates the success and contributions of companies and individuals within the greater Oshawa area.

Elaine Popp, DC’s vice-president of academics says, “it was under his leadership and his direction, that we saw the college flourish and meet the growing need for students in the Durham Region, and not have to leave the Durham Region.”

Lovisa succeeded by implementing around 50 new programs to attract more students each year. He is addressing the need of more study space, up-to-date classrooms and eight new programs to start in 2018 with the construction of the new 75,000 square foot CFCE (Centre for Collaborative Education). Popp says if it wasn’t for Lovisa’s work the CFCE would have not happened.

“We received federal money, provincial money, and we received money from the municipality to help us build. It shows Don is known not just regionally, but he is known within the province, different levels of government and was able to secure funding,” says Popp.

Tony Doyle, associate dean of Durham’s W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, worked for seven years in the same office as Lovisa within community relations and government relations.

Doyle says in the last two to three years, Lovisa started to work with all levels of government to extend GO train service to Bowmanville. By remaining in contact with government officials and the municipality, Lovisa developed a case to show the benefit of development for the community.

GO transit is in the process of extending GO service to Bowmanville.

For Lovisa, it was about doing something to help the community, build new job opportunities, bring more people to the region and give DC graduates local employment opportunities.

With Lovisa’s guidance Doyle says, “we are graduating really strong, qualified, students, who go out to help our community,” says Doyle.

Lovisa is spoken of by faculty. He takes time to invest in each of their lives and still makes time for students.

“When every employee had a birthday, Lovisa would call or email them or visit them,” says Doyle.  He also says, for years Lovisa did ‘ask the president’. Lovisa would stand in the pit and let students come by. He would say to ask him any question and he would answer it.

“His accomplishments support students and industries, and provide a visionary view into what the college represents for the local economy. The entire DC family is thrilled to see him recognized for his tireless work on behalf of the college and the greater community,” says Scott Blakey, chief administrative officer, in a news release.

Lovisa started working as the vice-president of academics in 2007, which soon evolved into being named the interim president in 2008. He was officially appointed the role of president in 2009.

“Each day I go to work at what I believe is Canada’s best college. To be recognized for doing something I truly love is humbling and I share this achievement with my colleagues who join me each day to ensure that the college is able to live its mission that the student experience comes first,” says Lovisa, in a media release.