An unwavering commitment to student success, high-quality programs led by exceptional professors with real-world experience, graduates who’ve gone on to outstanding career success and a treasured relationship with the community – Durham College has been guided by these ideals since 1967.
1965 to 1969
It was in May 1965 when former Ontario Education Minister Bill Davis introduced legislation to establish colleges of applied arts and technology across the province. The legislation reflected a profound new approach to education that has energized, stimulated and transformed the provincial and national economies ever since.
Community leaders in the region quickly responded to this announcement. On October 13, 1966, a volunteer board of governors for Durham College met for the first time and administrative offices were soon set up in The Bateman House, at 304 Simcoe Street North, a location that was provided by the Oshawa General Hospital. Before long, a permanent campus for the college was found when E.P. Taylor came forward and identified the southwest corner of Conlin and Simcoe streets as a suitable home.
Durham College officially opened for studies on September 18, 1967 in 16 portable classrooms, employing a staff of 14, and serving 205 students. The first academic calendar offered courses in applied arts, business and technology. The college’s first president, Dr. Gordon Willey, affectionately known as Doc, was an engineer by trade and placed special emphasis on technology.
1970 to 1979
The college flourished from the start, soon opening two permanent buildings, expanding programs and celebrating enrolment growth. By its 10th anniversary, courses were also being offered in health sciences and adult training, while enrolment had climbed to more than 1,250 students.
Of note, the campus was home to the Regional Municipality of Durham’s first office. Durham Region officially came into being January 1, 1974, comprised of eight municipalities, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax and Pickering. It has since become a vibrant multicultural community of almost 600,000 people – one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.
1980 to 1989
Dr. Willey was succeeded in 1980 by Mel Garland and the early 1980s were marked by further expansion of Durham College’s facilities and a focus on bringing the latest technology to the classroom. This included the construction of a new state-of-the art Robotics lab, the precursor to the Integrated Manufacturing Centre found on campus today.
By the college’s 20th anniversary in 1987, enrolment was close to 2,700 full-time students, and in 1988, Dr. Gary Polonsky was named president of Durham College. Under his leadership, the early 1990s brought more growth, including the college’s purchase of the Cadbury chocolate factory overlooking Highway 401 to establish its Whitby campus. The centerpiece of that campus is the nationally recognized Skills Training Centre, where thousands of apprentices have studied and the college has become a leader in addressing skilled trades. It was also in the 1990s when Durham became the first college in Ontario to offer an employer guarantee, ensuring graduates would possess the knowledge and market-ready skills required to excel
on the job.
A key element of the college’s enduring success has been its professors, who bring years of experience working in their fields to the classroom, teaching students everything they need to know about their chosen career paths. Their high-calibre of teaching has helped spur outstanding career success by Durham College graduates. They are founders of multimillion-dollar corporations, health-care and IT leaders, board members of leading corporations, and are incredibly generous with their community outreach and philanthropy. Durham College graduates make an impact on the world.
1990 to 1999
The college is fortunate to have several allies in education, countless community partners and organizations whose generosity makes a direct impact on the lives of students every day. Millions of dollars have been donated over the years, a large portion of which has been targeted to qualified students in financial need to help them pursue a college education.
Students have always played a critical role in college decision-making. From voting for the Student Centre to a referendum on an Athletic Centre expansion, the college trusts its students to speak on key initiatives that ultimately affect their post-secondary experience. There are also more than 25 diverse student clubs on campus that meet a variety of needs and interests.
2000 to 2009
Over the years Durham College has also strived to offer students increased opportunities to unique educational pathways. Strong partnerships existed with York and Trent universities for years, eventually leading to the establishment of the Durham University Centre in 1996, which enabled Durham Region residents to take university courses here at home. In 2003, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) opened its doors at the college’s Oshawa campus. With the addition of UOIT as a campus educational partner, Durham College students had an even richer campus experience. Students had access to new academic options, such as unique bridging programs that allowed students in particular areas of study to move from college to university in pursuit of their educational and career goals.
Leah Myers succeeded Dr. Polonsky as president of Durham College in April 2006. The college’s full-time enrolment stood at almost 6,000 students in September 2006 along with thousands of part-time students. In addition, it counted more than 42,000 alumni.
September 2007 marked the beginning of another milestone year, as Durham College arrived at its 40th anniversary. A year of celebrations was kicked off with the City of Oshawa proclaiming September 18 as Durham College Day, while the unveiling of an Alumni Wall of Distinction in October and Homecoming weekend in May also marked four decades of post-secondary excellence.
On May 16, 2008, Don Lovisa was named interim president of Durham College and was formally appointed president on January 1, 2009.
The college’s enrolment grew to more than 7,100 students in full-time studies, thousands more in part-time studies and 1,400 apprentices. At this time Durham College offered more than 100 full-time programs, in high-demand areas.
On December 8, 2009, Durham College celebrated the grand opening of Phase 1 of the Whitby campus expansion. The initial phase of the planned 30 million three-phase expansion project includes a second storey addition that houses new classrooms and labs; and Incubation Centre, developed in partnership with the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance; and living lab environments in areas including solar water heating, solar cell systems, wind turbines and geothermal technology systems.
The college’s rich history of post-secondary excellence has made Durham the premier college in Canada for career-focused students who succeed in a challenging, supportive and inclusive learning environment.
2010 to now
In an effort to ensure its dedication to the student experience, Durham College has continued building relationships with various community partners and educational institutes around the globe, in addition to improving and expanding its impact on the Region of Durham.
In March 2011, the Oshawa campus officially opened the Student Services Building, located on Simcoe Street, enforcing our commitment to the student experience by offering one of the most comprehensive and all encompassing service facilities in the province. The one-stop shop facility creates a vital first point of access for potential applicants, current students, and graduates.
Following shortly after in May 2011, Durham College officially opened Phase 2 of the $36-million, three-phase Whitby campus expansion. Phase 2 introduced an expanded shop focused on green-building trades and technology, as a follow up to the living labs introduced with Phase 1. The Whitby campus expansion will help to address the estimated 350,000 skilled worker shortfall expected by 2025.
Construction is currently underway for Phase 3 of the expansion, the Centre for Food, which will house 950 additional students and introduce a full-service, green-certified teaching restaurant and lounge, three public-viewing kitchens, two bio-mass heated greenhouses, rooftop and ground-level vegetable gardens and fruit-bearing trees, and more.
Durham College also introduced Suswaaning Endaajig, the new Aboriginal Student Centre and the Durham Chinese Canadian Cultural Centre, both located in the Simcoe building, helping us to partner with the community as part of our strategic vision.
By spring convocation, June 2010, Durham College had reached nearly 50,000 alumni. It also awarded its first-ever Durham College honorary credential to dental surgeon Dr. Peter Zakarow, acknowledging his dedication to community involvement and Durham College, where he served as college governor (starting in 1982) and chair of the Board of Governors (1985-1987).
In September 2010, Durham College was honoured with the 2010 Business Excellence Award, and later in the year was named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers.
Durham College enrolment in the fall of 2010 had increased 37 per cent since 2004, and reached an all-time high the following year with the introduction of 11 new programs in the areas of Carpentry – Sustainable, Digital Photography and Digital Video Production, Emergency Service Fundamentals, Victimology, Welding Techniques, and more.
In September 2012, Durham College had the highest enrolment growth of any college in the province according to figures released by the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS). Adding 1,128 students in fall 2012, the college’s total all-fee categories (domestic and international) growth rate was 14.2 per cent against the 3.3 per cent Ontario college system average, the highest in the province in absolute numbers and by percentage. Durham College welcomed 5,587 first-year students in September 2012, an increase of 15.3 per cent over the previous academic year. In addition, enrolment for all years reached 9,047 students, an increase of 14.2 per cent over fall 2011