Durham College (DC) President Don Lovisa says his ‘Ask the President’ event is an opportunity to listen to students.
Lovisa met with students Oct. 1 for two hours at the Oshawa campus and another two hours in Whitby.
The president first got involved in the event nine years ago, doing it on an annual basis alongside the president of the Student Association (the former government that represented students at both DC and Ontario Tech).
“Because of the changes in the student union the last couple of years I didn’t do it, but this year I decided to bring it back,” he says.
Ninety per cent of what students have to say is positive, according to Lovisa. He says they’re enjoying their experience, doing well, like their profs and are optimistic about the future.
‘Ask the President’ was a success, Lovisa says, noting 250 people entered a draw affiliated with the event.
The most exciting thing for Lovisa is students want to talk to him and share some ideas. He also loves hearing their stories.
“I met a guy who worked 25 years at Bay Street (Toronto’s financial district) and decided he doesn’t want to go to Bay Street right now, so now he’s taking a trades program because he wants to do something different,” he says.
He says he talks to the students and gets their thoughts on how DC can improve. Also on the fun side he gets some pictures taken with students and they share some laughs.
But Lovisa also takes the event seriously.
“Students come forward with things that are bothering them, things that we can do better,” he says.
After the event, he met with the DC Leadership Team and sat down with them and talked about all the things they heard and things they should check on.
“One example was a student didn’t know how you booked a locker in the CFCE (Centre for Collaborative Education) building, so we learned we don’t have a well-defined process for that building, everything else is through the student union so we’re looking how to improve that,” he says.
Another issue is students using a Mastercard at the bookstore have been charged a five dollar fee, but that was taken care of, according to Lovisa.
“We called the bookstore and our chief financial officer looked into it and we got rid of it,” he says.
Lovisa says the difference between the event in Oshawa and Whitby is that the former has more international students but other than that it’s pretty consistent.
“The compliments were equally as kind and encouraging at Whitby as they were in Oshawa,” he says.
He says building a relationship with students is important to him.
“If they see me in the hallway, it already happened today, I was at Whitby and two students saw me and said ‘hey, I talked to you yesterday,’ and I was like ‘hey, I know you’,” he says.
His message is DC is here to support students.
“We’re here to listen, we’re here to help you. Our job for all of us at DC is to help give students great education and a great experience,” he says.