Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 7, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2018):
- Durham College employees can provide direct feedback through an annual Retreat with the President, providing opportunities for employees to share ideas on how to improve the campus and college experience for employees and students alike
- Durham College encourages employees to lead active, healthy lives and provides subsidized access to its Recreation and Wellness Centre, which features 5 gymnasiums and a 10,000 square foot "FLEX" fitness centre -- the College also offers massage therapy, acupuncture and nutritionist services through its Campus Health Centre, healthy grab-and-go options, and a smoothie juice bar at the cafeteria
- In an effort to improve the diversity of its students and employees, Durham College maintains a diversity working group to help develop and implement related strategies and initiatives
At Durham College, top leaders ask staff for advice
Brandon Carson enrolled at Durham College in Oshawa in 2005 to study web development and he never left. A six-week student placement in the college's Communications and Marketing department led to a one-year contract, and by then he knew he'd found a professional home.
"After the fourth week of the six-week placement I said, I love this place," recalls Carson. "After working for the college for a year, I said I really want to work here full-time."
And that's just what he's done. Carson bought a home across the street from the college. He worked as a contract employee for four years before landing a permanent position. Currently, he is a Learning Technologist in the Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment -- a role that allows him to apply what he learned as a student. Among other things, he works with faculty in various disciplines and teaches them how to use digital technology for course creation.
He has enjoyed other opportunities as well. Carson teaches digital technology-related courses part-time. He has served on committees as a member and co-chair. He is currently working on a bachelor's degree in adult education and digital technology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the college covers half his tuition. Once he's completed that degree, he plans to pursue a master's.
Tuition subsidies are available to all full-time employees and that includes faculty, administrative staff and support staff, says Sandra Bennett, the college's Associate Vice-President, Human Resources. Durham College also offers a number of other opportunities for professional growth and development.
Employees can enroll in one of several leadership development programs offered by outside organizations. Many employees pursue opportunities within and outside of their employee group. Examples include support staff who move into other roles that align with their career goals, including teaching, administrative staff who move into senior leadership roles, and faculty who are seconded to administrative positions.
The college's leadership team also encourages dialogue with employees through several channels, notably twice-yearly, day-long retreats that occur off campus. "It's an opportunity for a small group of employees to meet with the president and the leadership team, including the chief administrative officer and the vice-presidents of academics and student affairs," says Bennett. "Employees are encouraged to be open about what is good or not so good about Durham College and to contribute ideas they have for doing things differently."
Durham College takes a pro-active approach to employee health and wellness. Employees can take advantage of subsidized access to the college's Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre, which includes five gymnasiums, an indoor running and walking track as well as a 10,000-square-foot fitness centre equipped with weights, treadmills and state-of-the-art exercise machines.
Two years ago, the college launched an Employee Wellness Release Time initiative in which staff can take an extra half hour at lunch three times a week in order to work out. "People have said that half hour makes such a difference," Bennett says. "They say, 'I feel like I'm a better employee and a better parent because I'm getting personal time, but not at the expense of my family'."
The college has several important programs to ensure that the campus is an open and welcoming environment for students, staff and faculty. The Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions develops initiatives to support all members of the campus community, including marginalized minority groups, such as members of the LGBTQ+ community. More recently, the college has set up a committee to lead initiatives to uphold recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- Durham College's building footprint includes a number of green features such as a 350-panel photovoltaic rooftop solar array, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and a centralized building automation system that monitors multiple campus buildings -- additionally, the new W. Galen Weston Centre for Food building is a "Green Restaurant" certified facility that offers programs based on the field-to-fork concept, with grounds that feature outdoor fruit, vegetable and herb gardens, native plantings and pollinator gardens
- Durham College employees, students and faculty are encouraged to help champion sustainability on campus and elsewhere through the Sustainability Office and the formal "Living Green" initiative -- students may volunteer with their own Green Team while employees and faculty can participate in the Sustainability Office and the Living Green Ambassadors' program
Durham College is committed to 'Living Green'
They have a saying at Durham College: "Green runs deeper than the logo." And nothing illustrates that better than the institution's Living Green initiative, which was launched in 2012 with the goal of enhancing the sustainability of virtually all campus endeavours, including operations, planning, administration, curriculum, research, innovation and stakeholder engagement.
"Living Green is a comprehensive initiative and represents Durham' College's commitment to a broad-based and effective approach to sustainability," says Sustainability Coordinator Tanya Roberts.
A 20- to 30-member Green Team, comprising students and employees, helps foster a culture of sustainability by setting goals, raising awareness and organizing events aimed at broad-based participation.
One of the most significant initiatives to date, developed in conjunction with the Sustainability Office, has been the Living Green Office Certification program - a points-based internal assessment designed to encourage offices across the college to incorporate a variety of sustainable practices. These include waste reduction and diversion and the reduction of energy and water consumption, among other things.
"I met with a lot of managers and we collaborated and customized the program," says Roberts. "We went into all the offices and asked them to become part of the certification initiative, to get a baseline assessment about how they're operating."
The commitment to participate started at the top. Indeed, the President's Office was part of the pilot program to test the concept. "Everybody is looking for these types of solutions," says Alan Dunn, Associate Vice-President Facilities and Ancillary Services. "They make sense economically and they're the right thing to do for our students and the community at large."
Employees can get involved by joining the Sustainability Ambassadors Committee, which administers the certification program and also broadens environmental stewardship and awareness throughout the college. Among other things, committee members work with colleagues in their departments and encourage them to use less paper and to carefully monitor use of electronic devices.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all sustainability approach at an institution like Durham College, which was founded in 1967 and is home to buildings of varying ages. Instead, the Facilities and Ancillary Department has had to customize solutions for each area of the campus. Changes have included replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and installing occupancy sensors to ensure that lights are turned off in offices, classrooms and labs when they are not in use.
The Facilities department has also developed an extensive building automation system that allows team members to monitor heating and air conditioning throughout the college from a central location and to control both depending on whether a particular space is in use or unoccupied.
Other sustainably driven changes at the college include creating successful recycling programs for textbooks, batteries and e-waste. "You couldn't anticipate how excited people get about battery recycling," Roberts says. "People say they've always felt bad about putting them in the garbage."
Several other initiatives that have raised awareness and been well received by various segments of the college community include installing filtered water stations throughout the campus to reduce the consumption of bottled water in disposable plastic containers. The word "Landfill" has also been posted on co-mingle bins to raise awareness of where garbage ends up.
"You're always competing with a lot of different messaging on a college campus," says Roberts. "But people are open to hearing about sustainability. There's so much more awareness around the issue and people want to make an impact."