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Lakehead University Magazine


Two Campuses, One Vision

Frances Harding
Orillia Museum of Art and History
Orillia Museum of Art & History
photo courtesy of

Ask an Ontario high school graduate what she knows about Orillia and she might tell you it is the home of Stephen Leacock, author of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Ask her the same question five years from now, and there is a good chance she will tell you Orillia is home to Lakehead University’s southern Ontario campus — her own Alma Mater!

Lakehead University opened the Orillia Campus in temporary quarters, a red brick heritage building in downtown Orillia, in 2006. The Charter Class numbered 120 students. Since then, enrolment has grown to 444 students and the University has developed a plan to open Phase I of a permanent campus in the fall of 2010. The first new campus building, situated on 85 acres of agricultural land within Orillia city limits, will be an energy-efficient structure designed to accommodate up to 1,500 students.

Orillia is located in Simcoe County on the shores of two connected lakes: Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. It is a vibrant community of about 30,000 people who live within easy driving distance of Lake Muskoka, Georgian Bay, and Algonquin Provincial Park. The city is northeast of Barrie on Highway 11, 135 km north of Toronto

What makes Orillia such an interesting choice for Lakehead are the many parallels that exist between that city and Thunder Bay. Both refer to themselves as “sunshine” cities. Both are situated on the edge of Canada’s Great Lakes water system, and both have strong connections with neighboring First Nations communities.

How fitting that in 2005, after being approached by Orillia Mayor Ron Stevens and other community leaders, Lakehead University should agree to explore the feasibility of creating a new campus. Here was an ideal opportunity to help meet the educational aspirations of the citizens living in Simcoe County while positioning Lakehead University for growth in a time of changing demographics in Northwestern Ontario.

For years, Northwestern Ontario population has been decreasing. Despite the increasing Aboriginal population, the pool of eligible high school level university applicants is on the decline. Not so for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and surrounding region. There, the demand for university spaces continues to grow at a rapid rate.

Lakehead University President Dr. F. Gilbert
  Fred Gilbert
Lakehead University President Fred Gilbert explained the strategy behind Lakehead University Orillia Campus in a letter to the editor published May 3, 2008, in Thunder Bay's Chronicle-Journal newspaper, saying: “As the prospect of declining student enrolment loomed, we strengthened marketing efforts to attract more southern Ontario students to the University. This has met with some success but it was apparent that we needed a campus close to the GTA if we were to tap into the one major growing student market in the province. The business plan for the Orillia campus is on target, and the campus is predicted to be self-sufficient based on its enrolment and, in fact, overall would produce revenue that would help support the home campus...

"We are committed to Northwestern Ontario as we now are to Orillia, but without the latter the Lakehead University of the future would be a much poorer institution with a far different capacity for impacting the Northwestern economy than we now have. Both Thunder Bay and Orillia will profit from a Lakehead University that is vibrant, adaptive, and progressive in the face of changing environments and realities."


Lakehead University Orillia Campus has a lot to offer the academic community in Thunder Bay, says Lakehead's Vice-President (Academic) and Provost, Laurie Hayes. "The new campus provides a fresh space for Lakehead faculty to reach the University’s goal of educating students who are independent critical thinkers and who are aware of their social and environmental responsibilities."

Dr. Kim FeddersonDr. Kim Fedderson
Indeed, the main feature of the Orillia curriculum is Inquiry-based learning with an interdisciplinary focus, says the Campus Dean, Kim Fedderson. He is referring to the new four-year Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science degree program, which is offered only at Lakehead University Orillia Campus.

Fedderson is a Professor of English who joined Lakehead in 1989 and served as Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities for six years before taking on the role of Vice-President, Academic and Student Services, at Confederation College in 2006. He left the College and returned to Lakehead University in January 2008, this time, as Dean of the campus.

"Inquiry-based learning is designed to develop students’ skills as critical thinkers, interdisciplinary problem-solvers, researchers, and communicators," says Fedderson. "In Inquiry-based learning, students look at the question from many different perspectives. They draw on information and knowledge from a variety of disciplines. And they become aware that the solution they come up with is only one of many possible solutions. Students learn how to learn and become flexible and adaptable in their thinking."

Students enrolled at Lakehead University Orillia Campus may choose from several degree programs including Arts and Science, Education, Business Administration, and Social Work. As the campus grows, new programs will be added such as Health Studies and Environmental Studies.

Last April, Lakehead University Orillia Campus hosted its first University Community Colloquium attended by about 100 community members. They spent the day discussing the question: What kind of university campus should we be building for current and future students in Simcoe County? According to Fedderson, the information gathered will be used to develop a Strategic Plan for the Lakehead University Orillia Campus, including an Academic Plan, an Enrolment Management Plan, and a revised Business Plan.

Kim Fedderson's passion for Lakehead University Orillia Campus is based on his experience of Lakehead University as a special place. "Lakehead is committed to student-centred learning and high-quality research, and is sincere in its desire to help students realize their potential. I believe these unique qualities should be shared widely throughout the province and the country," he says.

President Fred Gilbert believes Lakehead University Orillia Campus is a strategic move to ensure the long-term sustainability and vitality of Lakehead University. "It positions the University to capitalize on the demand for postsecondary education in Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area. It markets the programming available in Thunder Bay more effectively when students can experience the quality of education that Lakehead offers closer to their homes. It provides an experimental base for new degree offerings and teaching modalities. It provides the City of Orillia and Simcoe County with an educational resource that will have long-term economic and social impacts. It also realizes the ‘Simcoe College’ dream that Orillia citizens have harbored for the last half century in the form of a new campus of an established and respected Ontario university.

"All this will unfold in a way that builds capacity for Lakehead University Thunder Bay Campus by helping to attract southern Ontario undergraduate students there as well as to Orillia. Likely, many Orillia-based graduates of undergraduate programs, who would not otherwise attend Lakehead University, will consider doing post-graduate work in Thunder Bay.

"Lakehead University Orillia Campus will be built to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standard, meaning it will be a model for all university campuses, and the first North American one entirely to be developed to such demanding environmental expectations. As such, it will place Lakehead University in the desirable position of being a continental leader in energy conservation, ecological awareness, and social consciousness. Environmental academic programs will find a natural home at the campus.

"In summary, Lakehead University Orillia Campus is one of the most critical decisions ever made by Lakehead University. It will pay long-term dividends to the partners involved by revitalizing the University and Orillia."

Sunshine City Quiz

  1. The Village of Orillia was incorporated in the same year as this important Canadian event. Can you name the year and the event? Reveal the answer
    1867 Confederation
  2. Ontario’s former Lieutenant Governor, The Honorable James K. Bartleman, was born in Orillia and his mother is from a First Nations community near Orillia. What is the name of that First Nations Community? Reveal the answer
    Rama Mnjikaning First Nation
  3. This famous Canadian singer/songwriter grew up in Orillia. Who is he? Reveal the answer
    Gordon Lightfoot
  4. What are “The Narrows” and why are they significant from an archaeological perspective? Reveal the answer
    The Narrows is a small waterway that connects Lakes Couchiching and Lake Simcoe where there is marine archeological evidence of ancient fishing weirs used by Huron and Iroquois people to trap fish.
  5. Orillia was used as the basis for a fictional town in Stephen Leacock's 1912 book Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. What is the name of that fictional town? Reveal the answer
  6. What connection does the Ontario Provincial Police have to Orillia? Reveal the answer
    Orillia is the site of the OPP General Headquarters.
  7. This famous Canadian lived in Orillia during his teen years and trained at the Orillia Figure Skating Club. What is his name? Reveal the answer
    Brian Orser
  8. This Canadian painter and member of the renowned Group of Seven comes from Orillia. Who is he? Reveal the answer
    Franklin Carmichael, RCA. His best known pieces are titled Autumn Woods, Lake Superior, and Northern Tundra.
  9. What is the name of the French explorer who visited the Orillia area in the early 1600s? Reveal the answer
    Samuel de Champlain
  10. The name Orillia is thought to originate from a word meaning "shore of a lake or river" in this language. What language is it? Reveal the answer
    10. Spanish
  11. Jake Gaudaur Sr. held the world’s title in this sport for five years (1896 to 1901). He practiced on Lake Couchiching near his home at The Narrows. What is the sport? Reveal the answer
    Sculling. In 1892 Gaudaur and F. Hosmer won the doubles scull championship of the world, defeating Ned Hanlon and William O’Connor. In 1896 he won the world’s singles sculling championship when he defeated Jim Stanbury of Australia on the Thames River.
  12. This artist is one of Canada’s best known women sculptors, noted for her work in monumental sculpture, especially that of King George VI in Niagara Falls, the war memorial in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and her monument of John Graves Simcoe. Who is she? Reveal the answer
    Elizabeth Wyn Wood, RCA. A bronze bust of Stephen Leacock by Elizabeth Wyn Wood graces the Orillia Public Library.

This quiz was compiled with assistance from the Orillia Public Library

Orillia Marina

What's Special about Studying in Orillia?

Hands-on, Interdisciplinary, and Inquiry-based learning

Jill Ventura

Anthropology students excavate a mock architectural site in downtown Orillia

When attending any university, you expect to hit the books hard during your first year, and not stop until it's time to graduate.

Being at Lakehead University Orillia Campus is no different. The institution expects discipline and determination from its students. However, in addition to writing essays and reports, students get the opportunity for some hands-on, interdisciplinary, and Inquiry-based learning.

A good example of hands-on learning is Professor Tim Kaiser's second-year anthropology class, where his students excavated a mock archaeological site located in a vacant lot behind the downtown campus at Heritage Place, 1 Colborne St., West. It was an exercise he nicknamed Sandbox 101.

"The course was originally designed to be a book- and-lecture-taught survey of archaeological method and theory, but the small class size inspired me to take my students out into the dirt," says Kaiser.

He began by hiring a back-hoe to excavate a trench which he filled with layers of soil. In each layer, he created a variety of archaeological features such as broken pottery and stone tools. The class was divided into eight groups and each was assigned to a one-metre square. Working in groups of two, they took turns trowelling, sieving, recording, and making detailed maps of their finds. The unanimous conclusion was that, as a project, Sandbox 101 beats a term paper, any day.

Lakehead University Orillia Campus offers academic programs in Arts and Science, Education, Business Administration, and Social Work. In the first and the fourth year of both the Education and Arts and Science programs, it is mandatory that students take a year-long Inquiry class designed to encourage students to think "outside the box." This gives students a feeling for the exciting process of discovery and gets them responsible for their own learning, says Professor Alice den Otter, Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Last year there were six professors in Orillia who team-taught the Inquiry classes: Derek Irwin, Daphne Bonar, Timothy Kaiser, Alice den Otter, Sreekumari Kuriserry, and Reg Horne. In 2005-06, the students chose to investigate the subject of sexuality in the winter term. Last year, the subject was war. Through intensive research, problem solving, and readings of works from different viewpoints, Inquiry students are taught to ask the "right questions" to get answers that others may miss.

Linda Rodenburg
Linda Rodenburg
"Inquiry-based learning enables the professor to function as a facilitator of lifelong learning," says Linda Rodenburg a Lakehead graduate and a Professor of English. "I love the challenge of helping students ask questions and make connections between their courses... by learning how to tackle an issue from a few new angles, university graduates will be better equipped to solve problems and come up with new ideas once they are working in the field of their choice. As well, they will be able to better understand and work with others from different fields in order to provide an optimum result," she says.

Rodenburg completed an HBA and a BA/BEd (Concurrent) at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay in 1999 and went on to conduct postgraduate research at the University of Guelph (MA) and the University of Otago in New Zealand. Like most of the Orillia Campus professors, she is heavily involved in academic and community events. She facilitated a novel writing marathon, serves as chairperson for the Mariposa Folk Arts Forum, is a founding board member of the Friends of the OPP Museum, and is a Leacock Associate, involved with other volunteers working to promote the annual Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. Orillia students recognized her contributions to the campus and community with the "Spirit of Lakehead" award last year.

Her colleague, Alice den Otter, spent 10 years teaching in the Department of English at Lakehead University Thunder Bay Campus before moving to Orillia in 2006 to take on the role of Coordinator of the Arts and Science program.

Now Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies, Professor den Otter is a true believer in the merits of combining study of the arts and the sciences, saying that if such a program had been offered when she was an undergraduate, she would have taken it!

Don Napierala
Don Napierala
Don Napierala (BA'72, BEd'74, BSc'74) is an Education graduate who returned to work for Lakehead after retiring from the Thunder Bay District School Board. Since September 2007 he has been the Acting Director of Concurrent Education in Orillia, making sure that Lakehead's Concurrent Education students will have job placements with school boards during their professional year. Napierala is thrilled to be part of a new and growing university environment where he gets the opportunity "to shape things the way you think they ought to be." He shares an office with three professors in the Department of English and is busy developing partnerships between the Faculty of Education and the community. He believes Lakehead has one of the best Education programs in Canada, and he thinks Lakehead University Orillia Campus - where 70% of students are enrolled in the Concurrent Education program - will only serve to enhance its reputation.

Now in its third year of operation, Lakehead University Orillia Campus has 444 students and 22 full-time faculty members. Ask anyone what the biggest challenge is, and they will likely tell you it is the lack of space, a problem that will be rectified by moving to the permanent campus facility in 2010. Despite this, the mood on campus is warm and friendly, and staff, faculty, and students are working together in a congenial way.

Imran Mukhtar graduated from the one-year Business Administration college transfer program in June 2008. He says students starting their education at Lakehead University Orillia Campus are fortunate. Mukhtar began his degree at another university in southern Ontario where, he says, professors had no time for anyone. "You either had to look for help elsewhere or you were out of luck. The professors at Lakehead University Orillia Campus have always been happy to help me out when I needed it. I've never had professors like that before."

Jill Ventura is a student in the second year of the Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science Program at Lakehead University Orillia Campus.

A Leader in Environmental Design

Lakehead is building an energy-efficient campus in Orillia that meets the highest certification standards

Heather Scott

Lakehead University Orillia Campus Master Plan

Lakehead University Orillia Campus will be the first university campus in Canada to be designed and built to the very highest standards of energy efficiency and environmental design. When the first structure opens in 2010, it will be a LEED Platinum building certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System (LEED) endorsed by the Canadian Green Building Council of Canada.

The Master Plan, prepared by MHPM Project Managers Inc./Diamond & Schmitt Architects, was presented to the Lakehead University Board of Governors on June 19 and to the Orillia community during an informal Open House held in the Campus Library on Wednesday, June 25, 2008.

"The design and layout that is being developed for the Lakehead University Orillia Campus will put the University in a league of its own, and will clearly demonstrate its commitment to meeting the challenge of sustainability in a changing global environment," says Project Manager David Nesbitt.

Phase 1 will accommodate up to 1,500 students and 68 faculty members, including 1,200 classroom seats, four labs, a Library/Learning Commons, food service area, and a separate 250-bed residence.

Interior, Phase 1
Interior View, Phase 1
To qualify as a LEED Platinum campus, Lakehead must score a minimum of 52 points on a checklist which offers credits for sustainable practices in six broad categories: sustainable sites; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design process. The overall goal is to reduce energy consumption and minimize water use and waste production.

Students who choose Lakehead University Orillia Campus will study in an environment that will be built to the highest levels of environmental responsibility," says Fred Gilbert, President of Lakehead University. "Not only will the campus ensure the long-term sustainability and vitality of Lakehead University, it will place Lakehead in the enviable position of being a continental leader in energy conservation, ecological awareness, and social consciousness."


Master Plan
Phase 1

Site Development: Minimize storm water run-off; encourage carpooling and bicycling; encourage compact development and green space

Water Efficiency: Capture rain water for toilets and site irrigation; reduce water consumption; minimize/treat wastewater

Energy Efficiency: Reduce energy consumption; use renewable energy Material Selection: Minimize construction waste; use recycled, salvaged or renewable materials; encourage use of local and low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials

Indoor Environmental Quality: Incorporate day lighting and improve delivery of ventilation air Innovation in Design: Use a LEED-accredited professional; incorporate innovative environmental features not covered in other areas.

Target $20 Million

Meet Paul Weber Jr., entrepreneur and Chair of the fundraising campaign to build a sustainable campus in Orillia

Lee Pigeau

Paul Weber Paul Weber

Paul Weber Jr. is well known for his roadside eatery on Highway 11, by far the most popular food stop for people driving north to cottage country from the Greater Toronto Area. Paul Weber Drive-In Restaurant has become an Ontario landmark and cultural icon, serving up to 7,000 people on the Friday of a long-weekend!

By 1981, the restaurant's famous charcoal-broiled burgers had become so popular that patrons were tempting fate by crossing the four-lane highway. When the Province of Ontario barricaded the middle section of the highway to prevent people from crossing, Weber installed a pedestrian footbridge over the highway – the first and only privately owned bridge to be built over a public highway in Ontario. Since then, he has expanded his business operations to include airport franchises and two dine-in restaurants, making Webers one of the most recognized food brands in Ontario.

In 2004, Paul Weber sold Webers Restaurants to pursue personal interests and to spend time with his wife and four children. In 2008, he volunteered to chair Lakehead University's $20-million Orillia Campus Capital Campaign, and he spoke with Campaign Manager, Lee Pigeau last August.

Pigeau: You aren't a Lakehead alumnus, what got you interested in the Lakehead University Orillia Campus fundraising campaign?

Weber: From the moment I heard about this project, I understood its massive scope. It has far-reaching economic and social benefits for this city, Central Ontario, and beyond. I wanted to be part of the biggest and best thing that has happened to this community.

P: What really sparked your interest in getting personally involved as a leader? Why did you take on this challenge?

W: It was perfect timing for me to make a significant commitment to a worthwhile endeavor. I see this as a way that I can personally give back to all the families of the City of Orillia. They gave Webers Restaurant so many great employees. Webers would never have achieved such cult status without its employees.

P: Someone once said that because of the employees you've hired for summer jobs at your restaurant, you have put more people through university than anyone else in this area. Did you see a difference in the university kids? Did any of your summer students go on to do great things?

W: Well, we certainly employed a ot of students! But the story is more about their drive, their work ethic. My employees bought into the Webers Way: love your work, be a part of a team, understand that it's the customers that pay your wages, and always have fun. The employees accepted responsibility and treated each other with respect. The stories about the successes of past employees and the good times they enjoyed are endless. I am proud of their accomplishments and I still get a kick out of hearing about how much they enjoyed their time at Webers.

P: You have children who were, or are, about to go on to post-secondary education. What do they think about this project and your involvement?

W: My children are very supportive. They want to get involved if the occasion arises. The ones who are university age get the picture about sustainability. The whole commitment Lakehead has to going "green" and actually doing something significant excites them, especially right here in our own backyard. Lakehead University Orillia Campus will be a special learning environment with an overriding theme of educating critical thinkers. My kids love that hook.

P: Why is Orillia and Simcoe County an ideal place to build a university?

W: Orillia is just far enough away but not too far from home. The Highway 400 corridor is very accessible. The City needs long-term sustainability to build on its rich history, and I personally think that a LEED Platinum campus will add to, and enhance, Orillia far into the future.

P: What impact will Lakehead University have on the local community — socially, culturally, and economically?

W: The community will be part of a movement that will see the Lakehead campus in Orillia become the environmental leader in design and everyday practice. I foresee Lakehead University Orillia Campus achieving worldwide acclaim as a green campus and attracting conferences and leaders from all disciplines. Critical thinkers will converge to discuss and debate issues. Right here in Orillia! 400 to 500 new jobs will have an enormous economic impact and these employees and their families will all need homes, cars, food, clothing, and places to go. Eventually the 7,000 students expected to be enrolled at Lakehead's Orillia campus within the next 15 to 20 years will have a huge spin-off. Every entrepreneur should sit down and figure out how they can be a part of it… what potential it has.

P: Since you've been involved, you have been working very hard connecting with people – what is the general reaction you get?

W: I'm surprised and elated by the willingness of people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved by making a financial contribution and by volunteering. The spirit of stewardship is very much alive in the Province of Ontario and in some cases far away from where Lakehead University Orillia Campus will be located. People see the benefits and want this project completed.

Canadian Architects Moriyama and Teshima are leading Phase 1 of the Lakehead University
Orillia Campus project
Canadian Architects Moriyama and Teshima
are leading Phase 1 of the Lakehead University
Orillia Campus project

P: Is the reaction of those who don't have a direct connection with Orillia or with Lakehead University different from those who are already connected?

W: I think that people see Lakehead University in a much broader way than associating it with just one city, one community, or even one university – two campuses. They see the big picture. This is win-win for everyone involved and can bring critical acclaim to everyone who is a part of this project. This is a big deal!

P: You have discussed the importance of being environmentally friendly. Why is it especially important for a university to be a leader in sustainability?

W: Sustainability is most certainly the "it" cause right now; and if you think about it, the connection makes sense. In essence we're saying we must be responsible for who we are, what we do, what we build, and how we run our lives on a daily basis. Therefore it's up to the educational institutions to lead the way, teach the way, and live the way. That is certainly what Lakehead University Orillia Campus is doing.

P: What challenges do you see for fundraising?

W: The initial challenge was to get the City of Orillia to buy in, and that has already happened with their $10 million contribution to building a permanent campus on 85 acres of agricultural land within the city limits. The next challenge is to get our message out to all the potential students as to what a cool place Lakehead University Orillia Campus is. Students embrace the ideas of inquiry-based learning, environmental responsibility, and sustainable design. They want to be on the cutting edge. Finally, we need to tell this inspiring story to the media, civic groups, and community leaders. We need to communicate who is involved now and how others can be part of this groundbreaking initiative.

P: With all of that, what experiences are you drawing upon from your restaurant days that are helpful in your current role as Chair of the fundraising campaign?

W: (Laughs) So far, all of my life experiences, including some that I had forgotten about, have been put to the task. Truly I'm blessed to have had such a diverse life, so rich in experiences and challenges. I will need to continue to draw heavily upon my past and my friends to achieve the goals ahead of us.

P: You mentioned the "spirit of stewardship." You really believe that saying "thank you" to donors, volunteers, and customers is important. Why is that?

W: Stewardship is not a hollow word. It means thanking those who have made our goal a reality. It is not a one-time thing, it's ongoing. Successful people have more opportunities to get involved with more projects than they can handle. It's their choice to choose us. So, if we are privileged enough to get their involvement, we most certainly need to have an ongoing process of acknowledgement. Without volunteers and donors, nothing is going to happen. We can only achieve success with the help of many willing hands. This campaign is about Phase 1 of Lakehead University Orillia Campus. In the future, we want to ensure that those who helped us open the doors to our first permanent building for 1,500 students in 2010 are around to help us celebrate when we have 5,000 students, 10 buildings, and the wonderful achievements of our students, staff, and faculty. I can't imagine a more fulfilling role right now.

For more information about the Lakehead University Orillia Campus Capital Campaign, contact Lee Pigeau by phone: (705) 330-4018 or by email:

A Dream Come True

Lakehead honors Simcoe County community activist Sue Mulcahy

Frances Harding
Frances Harding
Sue Mulcahy and
President Fred Gilbert
Lucille (Sue) Mulcahy, 87, has spent the better part of her life keeping a dream alive – the dream of having a university in Orillia that would benefit the people of Simcoe County. Last June, at its first Convocation in Orillia, Lakehead University recognized the former city councillor for her vision and leadership by presenting her with a Civitas Award.

Although Mulcahy is not a university graduate herself (she took a secretarial course in Toronto in the 1940s after finishing high school), she is a firm believer in the way in which universities prepare citizens to contribute to a democratic society. That is why in the early 1960s she took on the task of championing the cause of building a university in her hometown. "Someone had to do it," she says.

Having "a real university" in Orillia is wonderful, says Mulcahy. "I am overwhelmed by the community's response to Lakehead University. Everyone is talking about it, and there is such a good rapport between the professors and the students... It is so far-sighted."

Mulcahy's grandfather immigrated to Canada from Ireland and settled in Orillia in 1857. Her father was an entrepreneur who started a real estate and insurance company in the city, which Sue operated from 1954 until 1997, when she retired. Miss Mulcahy is one of eight children — three boys and five girls — and now keeps in touch with her nieces and nephews by email.

In 1963, Mulcahy joined with others to raise funds and lobby the provincial government to build a university they hoped would be called Simcoe College. The group made an alliance with Waterloo Lutheran University, a private institution at the time, which had expressed an interest in opening a satellite campus in Orillia. They requested funds from the provincial government, and through the Simcoe College Foundation, which Sue Mulcahy chaired, they raised thousands of dollars privately – enough to purchase 228 acres of land, not far from the site of Lakehead's permanent campus on Highway 11.

Unfortunately, the stars were not in alignment for the creation of a university in Simcoe County at that time. Political and academic alliances faltered. And ultimately the land was sold and the Foundation dismantled. Sue Mulcahy's dream, however, was kept alive.

In 2004, the Mayor of Orillia, Ron Stevens called the President of Lakehead University, Fred Gilbert, to see if Lakehead University would consider setting up a campus in Orillia. The rest, as they say, is history.

For Sue Mulcahy, the first recipient of the Civitas Award, Lakehead University Orillia Campus is a dream come true.

Convocation 2008

Lakehead University Orillia Campus celebrated its first Convocation last June with graduates completing the one-year Bachelor of Business Administration degree program for college transfer students. Joining them (middle l-r) Professors Alice den Otter and Joanne Ryan, and (bottom l-r) President Fred Gilbert, and Chancellor Lorne Everett.

Editor's Note


Frances Harding
Frances Harding, Editor

When we first reported on Lakehead University Orillia Campus in the 2005-2006 Lakehead University Annual Report, I remember Fred Gilbert saying the development of a campus in southern Ontario would likely be the most important strategic initiative that Lakehead would undertake during his entire tenure as President.

We hope the article, "Two Campuses, One Vision," will explain why Lakehead University Orillia Campus is so critical to the future of Lakehead University.

In this issue you will meet Kim Fedderson, Campus Dean, and learn about the unique Arts and Science degree program being offered only in Orillia. As well, you will read about Lakehead's plans to build a green campus and meet Paul Weber Jr., the entrepreneur who has volunteered to chair the $20-million capital campaign that will make this project possible.

In May 2008, during its first Convocation in Orillia, Lakehead honored Sue Mulcahy with a Civitas Award for her steadfast efforts in securing a university campus in Simcoe County.

We hope that all of Lakehead's alumni and friends support us in building a permanent campus in southern Ontario, with the understanding that when they do they will be contributing to a stronger Lakehead University - both in Thunder Bay and in Orillia.


Lakehead University won a Gold Award in the 2008 Prix d'Excellence awards program organized by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education, for its 2007-2008 Awareness Campaign.

The Do Something campaign positioned Lakehead as a socially responsible institution that offers programs relevant to a sustainable society and environment. The campaign was featured in the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Lakehead University Magazine.


The Department of Music celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2008-09. Watch for events and news throughout the year and plan to be part of exciting activities. For more information, visit the Department of Music website.



Loved the latest issue. The interview with Dr. Gilbert on WiFi was one of the most thought-provoking features I've read in an alumni publication.

Karen Lewis
Thunder Bay

I think that banning WiFi because it might have an adverse effect on humans is a terrible idea. Internet is one of the most valuable resources and tools available, especially for students. To make it unavailable in many areas of the school is a very poor idea.

If Lakehead honestly thinks that cutting out WiFi waves is going to save students from permanent damage, the University needs to realize that there are many other different types of radiation all over. To cut out WiFi is like having a chain smoker cut out one cigarette per month; it’s not going to do much.

A university that claims to be on the leading edge of communications and technology and doesn't have wireless Internet is laughable. I'm sure this policy has turned many students away from Lakehead over the years.

I certainly hope that Fred Gilbert will re-evaluate his position on this policy, and before 2010 when he steps down as President

Adam Mace
Thunder Bay



I want to express my appreciation to the students who voted in favor of paying up to an additional $15 per semester to cover the cost of rehabilitating the pool and change rooms at the C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse. I also want to thank Tom Warden, Director of Athletics, for hosting three public meetings during the public consultation process, to the members of the LUSU Executive, especially Richard Longtin, LUSU President, and to all those who expressed their views in support of "Saving the Pool."

As a regular donor to the Alumni Annual Fund, and longtime user of the swimming pool, I am pleased that Lakehead University is now allowing me to designate my annual gift to the Pool. I have already made a three-year pledge with the understanding that every dollar I designate to the Pool will mean one less dollar Lakehead students will have to pay to preserve this vital community resource.

Nancy Luckai, PhD
Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment


I must write to thank you. A girlfriend I met while attending Trent University was able to contact me because of Class Notes. She is the secretary to the Premier of Bermuda! I was so excited to reconnect with her and want to thank you because it was due to the write-up in the Lakehead University Online Magazine that she was able to locate me.

I graduated with a BEd from Lakehead in May 2007 and now work full-time as a teacher (Grade 7 and 8) at Lansdowne House, a fly-in First Nations Community.

In June 2008 I received an award highlighting my dedication to promoting First Nations Culture.

Shelley Adams
Lansdowne House

Class Notes will return in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue.

Research: A Bright Future for Biorefining

W Qin Professor Wensheng Qin

Lakehead's new PhD program in Biotechnology is being shaped by an expert in molecular biology and plant biotechnology from Stanford University, who now holds the title of Ontario Research Chair in Biorefining Research.

Professor Wensheng Qin (pronounced Ching) arrived in Thunder Bay from California last May and has settled into a suite of offices on the third floor of 1294 Balmoral Street building, next to the Paleo-DNA Laboratory.

He will be sharing this space with Robert Dekker, the newly hired Director of Lakehead University's Biorefining Research Initiative.

Robert Dekker is a distinguished biochemist who is an acknowledged authority on the biodegradation of lignocellulosic materials. He was born in Holland and raised in Australia, and has conducted collaborative research projects with Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and South Africa. Dekker will be leading Lakehead's Biorefining Research Initiative that should help Canada find new uses for its abundant supplies of forest biomass.

According to Wensheng Qin, discussions are currently under way with Northern Ontario's pulp and paper mills and other potential industry partners to see how they would like to get involved. Grant proposals are also being written to secure additional research funding from provincial and federal granting agencies.

The future for biorefining research in Northwestern Ontario looks bright. Qin has already recruited two PhD students and is ordering equipment for his research lab. In three to four years time, if they are successful, Miranda Maki and Mehdi Dashtban might very well be the first graduates of Lakehead University's PhD program in Biotechnology.

Qin's research falls into three main areas. The first is in microbial engineering for large-scale cellulase (enzyme) production, and in this research he is collaborating with Biology Professor Kam Leung. "From this project, we expect to develop new engineered microorganisms which can be largely used in industrial production of cellulase, an enzyme enormously and urgently needed for biomass conversion and biofuel production," says Qin. "With cost-effective production of this enzyme, Canada can take the advantage of its rich biomass resources and produce more competitive biofuels. As well, we will use less fossil oil, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent global warming."

The second area pertains to the bioconversion of forest biomass and pulp and paper sludge to useful bioproducts and biofuels. "On this project," says Qin, "we are actively collaborating with Northwestern Ontario pulp and paper mills to make full use of their sludge wastes to produce valuable products. This technology will not only decrease paper mill waste treatment costs, but also earn profits by producing bioproducts."

And the third research area is to generate a transgenic canola plant that could be successfully grown in northern latitudes for bio-oil production. Says Qin: "In Northern Canada, a large amount of land has not been well used; one of the main limiting factors is low temperature in winters. We will be developing cold-resistant transgenic canola. Northern land will become suitable for growing canola, and farmers will earn more income."

Student Profile: Jan Oakley

Jan Oakley Jan Oakley

How are Canadian teachers responding to the ethical, cultural, social, environmental, and religious concerns associated with animal dissection? That is one of the questions Jan Oakley will be answering during her doctoral studies in the Faculty of Education.

Oakley has long been interested in the field of human-animal relations, particularly questions related to ethics and how we think about animals. She completed her Master's degree in Education at Lakehead in 2007, with Professor Connie Russell as her supervisor, and is now a PhD student and proud recipient of a Canada Graduate Scholarship, valued at $105,000 over the next three years.

"For the past year I have been conducting a literature review on animal dissection," says Oakley. "I've been exploring various facets of it: its history, its place in science education, the ethics of the activity, the environmental concerns associated with it, the development of student choice policies which give students the legal right to opt out of dissection, and the development of alternative technologies, such as virtual dissection software. This has been, and continues to be, a very interesting exploration. It has also served as preparation for my own research, which will begin in 2009.

"We are in a time when animal dissection is being challenged on several fronts: ethical, environmental, social, and pedagogical. An estimated 6-12 million animals are killed each year for dissection purposes in North American schools, and studies show that increasing numbers of students are objecting to the practice and requesting alternatives to it. From a student's perspective, dissection can be an emotionally or ethically unpleasant experience, and to date only four Canadian cities have adopted student choice policies, which give students the legal right to opt out of the practice. There is also concern around the fact that the most commonly dissected animals are wild-caught frogs, which means ecosystem disruption and contribution to the existing problem of frogs disappearing around the world. These are some of the reasons why dissection is controversial.

"We are also in a time when there is a commitment at higher levels of education to a principle known as the "3 Rs" – that is, the reduction, refinement, and replacement of animal use in science and education. This commitment has spurred the creation of many types of dissection alternatives, which high schools may or may not be adopting, for a variety of reasons. The practice of animal dissection is nearly 90 years old in schools but it appears that the culture around it is shifting, and because of this, it is worth studying further."

Lakehead Opens Toronto Office

Lakehead University’s Office of Advancement has opened an office in downtown Toronto at 1 Dundas St. West. With an estimated 38% of Lakehead’s alumni base (approximately 14,000 graduates) in southern Ontario, the opening of an office marks the first of many new initiatives focused on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Lakehead graduate Glendon Tremblay (HBOR’03) has been hired as an Advancement Officer for the GTA and will be staffing the Toronto office. Glendon will be meeting with Lakehead alumni in the Greater Toronto Area as he continues to build a Lakehead community in southern Ontario. If you would like to set up a meeting with Glendon, please contact him by phone: (416) 619-9152 or by email:

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