Lakehead’s Report to the Community celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship

Lakehead’s Report to the Community celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship

Report to the Community participants

Participants of Lakehead’s Report to Community, held on November 17 at Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club, gather for a photo: (l-r) Lakehead student Brandon Pitawanakwat, Lakehead Alum Ofelia Jianu, guest host Dan Needles, Lakehead President & Vice-Chancellor Dr. Brian Stevenson, Lakehead student and alum Jenny Thomas, Lakehead student Grace Runciman, and Lakehead Orillia Principal Dr. Kim Fedderson.


Lakehead University’s Report to the Community luncheon recognized the innovative people, programs and projects that are making a difference at the University and in its communities.

People from across Simcoe County gathered at Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club on November 17 to celebrate the release of the University’s 2015-16 Annual Report, which describes the accomplishments of the University and the 10th Anniversary of the Orillia campus.

Guests were welcomed by Bruce Waite from Lakehead’s Board of Governors, who shared highlights from Lakehead Orillia’s 10th Anniversary year. “Thanks to the support of the City of Orillia, the County of Simcoe, and many community partners, our 10th Anniversary celebrations exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Waite said.

Those in attendance enjoyed a talk show-style presentation hosted by author and playwright Dan Needles.  

The talk show portion of the luncheon opened with interviews with Grace Runciman, a third-year student who volunteers with the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. and Brandon Pitawanakwat, a student who transferred from Georgian College and is opening a business in Simcoe County, and with Dr. Herman van den berg from the Faculty of Business

Alum Jenny Thomas captivated the audience by sharing her Lakehead story with all its ups and downs – from personal challenges to winning top awards at graduation, all while maintaining a successful retail business and looking after four children. Thomas explained how Lakehead not only helped prepare her to reach her goals, but also made her a more effective entrepreneur.

Two Young Alumni Award recipients were also honoured: Josh Briand, who graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Social Work from the Orillia campus in 2014; and Ofelia Jianu, who attained her Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Science degrees at Lakehead University and is now a member of the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science at the Ontario of University Institute of Technology (UOIT).   

Ofelia Jianu accepted her award and explained how Lakehead changed her life by inspiring her to become a professor of Engineering.

Josh Briand, a Canadian Forces veteran, overcame a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis to return to school, complete his degree, and go on to pursue his goal in the field of social work.  Briand is currently working as a social worker in British Columbia. Mark Tilbury, Alumni and Community Relations Director, accepted the award on his behalf.

With a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, the luncheon included an update on the University’s Business programs by Dr. Bahram Dadgostar, Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration. Dr. Dadgostar discussed the recent accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACB), new programs in Entrepreneurship and Accounting for business students, and a new Entrepreneurship Certificate Program that is open to all non-business students.

“This year’s Annual Report shows the exceptional impact our students, faculty, and alumni are having on the economy and society,” said Dr. Brian Stevenson, Lakehead University President & Vice-Chancellor.

“We feel extremely fortunate to have such dedicated community partners who have helped us achieve dramatic growth over the past 10 years. We look forward to many more years of success with you,” Dr. Stevenson added.

In addition to the academic, research, and community accomplishments, Lakehead Orillia’s operating expenditures had an economic impact of $47 million on the City of Orillia and the surrounding region in 2015.

Also included in the Report, Lakehead was named Canada’s #1 research university in its category by Re$earch Infosource and first in total research dollars by Maclean’s 2015 University Rankings.

Click here to read more about the exceptional work by Lakehead’s researchers, students, and alumni.


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Media: For more information, please contact Communications Officer, Kathy Hunt, at 705-330-4008 ext. 2014 or

Lakehead University has about 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities. Visit www.lakeheadu.