Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- Durham College encourages ongoing employee development through paid leaves for professional development and recently introduced a Leave for Change program (developed in partnership with Uniterra) -- the program offers employees a unique opportunity to transform their vacation into a short-term leave to volunteer in developing countries
- 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
Students aren't the only learners at Durham College
When Jennifer Cosway received a job offer from Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology in Oshawa almost two years ago, she was, she says, ecstatic. Based on Durham College's reputation, Cosway knew she would be working for an organization that was committed to making a positive contribution to the lives of not just its students but to its employees and to the community as well. "All that has proven to be true," says Cosway, Associate Vice-President, Human Resources.
While the primary focus at Durham College is providing diverse experiences and experiential learning opportunities to more than 12,000 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students, the employees are also well-served, particularly in terms of their own professional development. Aside from a tuition reimbursement program for courses at other institutions, employees have access to any Ministry of Education-funded course offered at Durham College for only $20. "At the end of the day, the more we enrich our employees, the more we enrich our whole organization," says Cosway.
"It's not an organization that says we're not going to invest too much in people in case they leave; they let us spread our wings," says Amit Maraj, a Professor in the School of Business, IT and Management. "It makes me want to come back and deliver to everyone else even more."
Since he started at Durham College, part-time in 2014 and full-time in 2017, Maraj has completed his master's degree and is now working on his PhD - both with the college's financial help and day.to-day accommodations. Over the past year, he's attended four conferences and has taken many courses. Through the college itself, there are opportunities to take workshops on all types of subjects - from learning how to deliver content to how to work with artificial intelligence. And the school's Leave for Change program allows employees to transform vacation time into international personal development opportunities.
"It's not just sending someone to a conference and that being the end of it," says Maraj. "It's an ongoing relationship. My dean always drills into us that if you want to go and learn something or do something, don't hesitate to ask. They're more than happy to let you be a part of anything you want to do."
And that's part of what makes working at Durham College so enjoyable for Maraj. "Every day, it's a new experience," he says, "And I think that's what keeps me happy with the culture and the work environment - no two days are the same." In fact, Maraj hardly considers what he does to be work. "To play a hand in the growth of an individual from a first-year student to an industry-ready professional is really rewarding and fulfilling," he says. "I think that's one of the hidden gems of the job."
Having the opportunity to work with students outside of the classroom is something Maraj is excited about. The AI Hub, a new initiative of Durham College, matches faculty and talented students with industry partners to work on artificial intelligence-based solutions to business problems. Maraj hires students to take some of these projects from start to finish with him, providing valuable experience for everyone involved and building deeper relationships.
Durham College is also an important part of the local community, and its employees give back in a number of ways. There's the annual fund-raising campaign for United Way, which typically raises $25,000. And employees volunteer doing food prep and serving at a local community kitchen on the first Thursday of every month. There is also an annual drive to support students who might not have the means to provide a meal around the holidays.
"To be in an organization that's making that kind of contribution, both to students individually and to our community, is just incredibly satisfying," says Cosway.
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
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."