Niagara College faculty and staff shine with two Minister’s Awards of Excellence

When it comes to making education more inclusive and supporting the community, Niagara College is earning recognition for leading the way.

On February 6, NC staff and faculty members won two Awards of Excellence from the Minister of Colleges and Universities. A team of staff behind the College’s open-source, digital Accessibility Hub, was presented with an award in the Equality of Opportunity category for creating opportunities for marginalized or underrepresented groups. Also honoured was Chef Professor Olaf Mertens, who was presented with an Everyday Heroes award for stepping up and making a difference through his leadership of NC’s Feed the Community initiative.

“Niagara College is incredibly proud to see the extraordinary work of our staff and faculty being celebrated with a Minister’s Award of Excellence,” said NC President Sean Kennedy. “The provincial recognition of Chef Olaf Mertens and the collaborative team behind the Accessibility Hub are shining examples of excellence in teaching and learning at NC.”

The Minister’s Awards of Excellence recognize the exceptional performance of faculty, staff and graduate students from colleges, universities, private career colleges and Indigenous Institutes in Ontario who made a difference to the lives of students, to their communities and to the entire province during the 2021-22 academic year.

Niagara College’s two awards were among 22 selected out of more than 540 nominations received.

Equality of Opportunity: Accessibility Hub

Launched in the spring of 2022, the Accessibility Hub was designed for educators and non-educators alike to build accessibility-first habits into all aspects of their work.

Enabled by a $230,000 grant from the Virtual Learning Strategy, an eCampus Ontario-led initiative, the NC team developed over 55 articles, checklists, videos, and resources with straight-forward recommendations for those seeking to simplify the creation of accessible web content, learning materials, and experiences for students or anyone with a disability. The stories of NC students and recent alumni with lived experiences of disability are shared throughout the site.

“A great deal of hard work and collaboration was behind the Accessibility Hub, a testament to Niagara College staff and faculty who drive our continuous efforts to make inclusive teaching and learning a priority,” said NC’s Vice-President, Academic Fiona Allan. “It is thrilling to see their skills and talents recognized provincially.”

The developers behind the Accessibility Hub are a group of provincially and nationally recognized experts including staff from NC’s Centre for Academic Excellence, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, and Marketing and Student Recruitment departments. Members of the cross-functional team include Whit Ross, Educational Developer; Courtney Thaggard, Web and Digital Developer; Jim McEwen, Adaptive Technology Specialist; Lynn O’Keeffe, Instructional Designer; Sarah LoConte, Web and Digital Developer; Natasha Patrito Hannon, Director, Teaching and Learning Innovation; Shelley Panetta, Director, Marketing; Karen Csoli, Director, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, Welland Campus; and Jay Burdon, Director, Health, Wellness and Accessibility Services, Daniel J. Patterson Campus.

On Feb. 6, Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities, presented the Equality of Opportunity award virtually to Ross and Thaggard, who accepted the award on behalf of the team.

Designed as a template with flexibility in mind, all materials in the Accessibility Hub are openly licensed. Since the launch, the Accessibility Hub has been adopted, adapted, and repurposed by several post-secondary organizations across the province to improve the accessibility of their professional communications, events, and courses. Accessibility Hub content has also formed the basis for a new Accessibility in Action! program at NC for employee professional development centered on best practices for teaching and learning environments.

Visit the Niagara College Accessibility Hub to learn more:

Niagara College’s Natasha Hannon (left), Director, Teaching and Learning Innovation, and Courtney Thaggard, Web and Digital Developer were part of the NC team behind the Accessibility Hub who won a Minister’s Award of Excellence at the February 6 ceremony.

Everyday Heroes: Chef Professor Olaf Mertens (Feed the Community)

Since 2021, students, faculty and staff from Niagara College’s School of Culinary Arts have been making a difference through Feed the Community, an initiative that helps those in need while boosting sustainability on campus, ensuring that no food goes to waste.

Feed the Community addresses food insecurity and supports health and wellness in the community. Fresh, healthy meals are prepared, packaged and transported to area shelters and food banks, as well as the Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton on a rotating basis. Some meals have also been provided to students living in on-campus residences.

Led by Chef Professor Olaf Mertens, who has been instrumental to organizing the initiative and to its ongoing delivery – the initiative relies on the dedication of a team of volunteers comprised of Mertens as well as other chef professors, culinary students and staff. The volunteers use top-quality products left from the kitchen labs and connect with shelters to transport meals to those who need them.

“Facing the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, Chef Olaf Mertens went above and beyond, making a difference in the learning of Niagara College students and inspiring the next generation of culinary graduates to contribute to their community in a meaningful way,” said Allan.

Approximately 5,000 meals were donated to shelters and food banks through Feed the Community from 2021 to December 2022. So far this year, approximately 800 individual meals have been donated through the initiative, which continues to expand its reach as part of a new academic-based foodservice model from NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division.

“I feel humbled and grateful, as it is not about being recognized but I hope to use the recognition to start a college wave or ripple effect to have others give to our neighborhood communities as our students apply their learning and skills,” said Mertens. “This gives me the boost to increase the effect the program has and get more donations for funding and next steps.”

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 9,500 students from over 80 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


Media inquires, please contact:

Jessica Torok
Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-932-1520
[email protected]

Julie Greco
Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-328-2532
[email protected]

United Way and Niagara College partner to grow local produce ‘with the community, for the community’

On the heels of World Food Day, Niagara College (NC) and United Way Niagara are excited to announce an expanded partnership that aims to increase food security in Niagara. The United Way Niagara Garden Hub, situated at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is an expansive community garden that is supporting food programs locally and providing educational opportunities for residents.

“United Way had been looking for a space to grow food and improve affordable, healthy food access for marginalized people and families,” said Frances Hallworth, CEO United Way Niagara. “We are thrilled to partner with Niagara College on this monumental initiative that will help those in our community dealing with food insecurity and provide a communal hub for locals to gather, learn and grow together.”

The United Way Niagara Garden Hub, which first took root at the college this summer, consists of 39 garden beds, a greenhouse, tool shed, produce washing station and gazebo. The inaugural growing season produced over 750 lbs. of herbs and vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, beans, kale, carrots, squash, cucumbers and herbs. The produce was distributed through 14 different locations including: Bethlehem Housing locations, Westwood Co-op, Westview Centre4Women, Feeding Fort Erie, Links for Greener Learning and a number of Niagara Regional Housing communities and was used to supply pop-up markets and food programs.

At Westview Centre4Women, women attended a workshop where they learned how to make fresh salsa from a large harvest of tomatoes and peppers. “It was a hugely popular workshop,” said Grazia Sheppard, program coordinator, “the women were so proud to be able to say ‘I made this’ and they got to take it all home to share with their families.”

United Way Niagara CEO Frances Hallworth (right), NC President Sean Kennedy (left), and NC Vice President, Research and External Relations Dr. Marc Nantel (middle) explore the final crops grown at the United Way Niagara Garden Hub at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus.

Niagara College has been a long-time supporter of the United Way, launching its first workplace campaign in 1991. Becoming a host site for a United Way community garden was a welcome opportunity for the College to further expand its partnership with the charitable organization in support of the Niagara community.

“Niagara College is proud to be a host site for the United Way Niagara Garden Hub that will help nourish local residents in our community,” said NC President Sean Kennedy, who is also the 2022 United Way Niagara Campaign Chair. “Food security is of paramount importance, and hosting a garden that advances United Way Niagara’s ability to serve those in need is one way that our college can further support our community in Niagara.”

“It was wonderful to watch the community garden take shape this year,” said Dr. Marc Nantel, NC Vice President, Research and External Relations. “We look forward to hosting many more growing seasons for this essential initiative, and to furthering the important work of our partners at United Way Niagara.”

In addition to the incredible partnership with Niagara College, United Way is thankful for the volunteer groups who played a large role in building the structures and maintaining the gardens. Algoma Central Corporation and MNP employees volunteered on a few occasions to build the structures as well as a handful of individual volunteers who diligently weeded and watered all summer.

As inflation continues to affect prices in our grocery stores, food insecurity has become even more prevalent in Niagara. Families experiencing poverty already struggle to make ends meet, and when faced with paying for food or paying for rent, it can be an impossible decision. This is where community gardens can become an asset. Food grown in the garden will go to support local food programs and affordable fresh food markets.

United Way, through their Niagara Community Garden Network program, will continue to coordinate volunteers from the community to help manage the planting, upkeep and harvesting of this garden for the 2023 growing season and beyond. For more information, visit


Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit

United Way works to tackle some of the biggest social issues in Niagara; investing in solutions to poverty, food security, mental illness, homelessness, domestic violence and social isolation.

Top photo: L-R: Niagara College President Sean Kennedy, United Way Niagara CEO Frances Hallworth and Niagara College Vice President, Research and External Relations Dr. Marc Nantel celebrate the inaugural growing season for the United Way Niagara Garden Hub, a community garden located at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Media inquiries, please contact:

Jamie Miller
Director, Community Investment, United Way Niagara
[email protected]
905-688-5050 ext. 2104

Michael Wales
Director, Communications, Niagara College
Cell: 905-328-4101
[email protected]


International student graduates head of the class at Niagara College

She moved to Canada from Philippines to pursue studies that would help enhance her career, but when she walks across the stage to accept her diploma, Jonhel Ampil will have achieved much more as the top student in Niagara College’s Class of 2022.

The Niagara Falls resident, who completed her studies in Recreation Therapy with a 98.046% average, will be presented with the illustrious Governor General’s Academic Medal at her convocation ceremony on the morning of June 24 – the final ceremony to conclude NC’s five-day convocation week.

Awarded to just one student at each postsecondary institution each year, the Governor General’s Academic Medal is the most prestigious award a Canadian student can receive in recognition of academic excellence.

“It means so much to me. Being an international student and away from home, it made me feel that all my struggles and hard work have paid off,” Ampil said. “Moreover, it gave me the confidence that I can do great things if I just put my mind and heart into it.

“It also felt like I brought honour to my family and nation with this award.”

School of Community Services Associate Dean Carol Phillips said that Ampil embraced her studies and every new opportunity with enthusiasm and grace. Phillips applauded Ampil’s compassionate care for persons with dementia and other vulnerable populations, and for the collaborative spirit she demonstrated through countless group projects, which resulted in outstanding work and acknowledgement from her peers.

“Jonhel is a model example of a community services professional, whose heart is deeply rooted in caring for others,” Phillips said. “Jonhel always brought a joyful presence when working with her peers and participants at placement as she approached all of her work with enthusiasm and a bright smile.”

In her hometown of Quezon City, Philippines, Ampil spent four years establishing herself as an occupational therapist. Then she set her sights on attending NC to expand her skills and enhance her career. At the time, she was simply drawn to the idea of studying recreation therapy to apply the many benefits of combining leisure activities with rehabilitation.

Four months after starting her studies online, she moved to Canada with her partner Ryan Lacson to continue learning in Niagara. They will graduate together from the Recreation Therapy program on June 24.

Even before finishing her program, Ampil’s new career took off. Since March, she has been working as an assistant activity coordinator at Chapel Heights retirement home in Niagara Falls. There she provides opportunities for residents with dementia to engage in meaningful programming that increases their overall well-being.

It’s a job she loves doing because it gives her a chance to use recreation as an effective rehabilitation tool and grow her skills as a recreation therapist.

She also plans to get her occupational therapy licence so she can practice in Canada.

“[I’ve been] a registered OT in the Philippines since 2015 and gained work experiences in both the hospital and pediatric settings,” she said. “I believe that having both OT and recreation [backgrounds] would really help in my advocacy for a better quality of life for my clients.”

For nearly 150 years, Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school, as well as from approved college or university programs.

Niagara College kicks off its Spring Convocation June 20 and ceremonies will continue until June 24 to celebrate more than 3,600 graduating students from its Class of 2022. Eight ceremonies are being held for graduates to attend in-person at the Welland Campus – for the first time since 2019 – or to view via livestream for graduates and their guests who choose to celebrate virtually.

For full details regarding NC Convocation, or to view the schedule and livestreamed ceremonies, visit

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


Related Media Release:

June 15: Amazing Race Canada host to address Class of 2022

Recreation Therapy graduate Jonhel Ampil will receive the Governor General’s Academic Medal at her June 24 convocation ceremony for achieving a graduating average of 98.046 per cent.

Media inquiries, please contact:

Julie Greco
Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-328-2532
[email protected]

Michael Wales
Director, Communications
Cell: 905-328-4101
[email protected]

Niagara College PR graduate steals industry spotlight with national award

Just months after graduating from Niagara College’s Public Relations program, Nicolas Mertens has catapulted from head of the class, to the top in Canada.

Mertens, who is a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, is the 2021 winner of the prestigious Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) / Cision Student Award of Excellence. The award celebrates promising future practitioners who have demonstrated an ability and desire to contribute to the status and acceptance of the profession.

Mertens would never have imagined himself to be a national award winner a year ago, when he began NC’s Public Relations graduate certificate program – which was virtual during the 2020-2021 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since graduating from the program in spring 2021, he has been thriving as a social media account manager for Zak Communications – a modern lifestyle communications agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal.

“I’ve never been the ‘top student’ in anything, anywhere before. Being recognized with such an honour is reassuring that I am on the right path,” said Mertens. “I am so proud to represent both Niagara College Public Relations and Zak Communications in the national spotlight. I think it shows the College and agency are modern, quick to adapt and hubs for innovative, creative ideas. And that’s what PR is all about.”

The CPRS / Cision Student Award of Excellence was presented on September 20 as the CPRS kicked of its four-day virtual conference. Mertens will receive a $1,000 prize, courtesy of Cision, and a one-year Emerging Professional membership to the CPRS.

“The winner of this award is well respected by their peers and industry instructors. The winner has already demonstrated strong leadership skills and PR business acumen,” said Ashalee Mohamed (vice president Sales, Account Management Canada) on behalf of Cision Canada. “Beyond achieving an impressive 90+ percent average, this individual demonstrated an innate understanding of public relations principles.”

“We’re all very proud of Nicolas. What a wonderful honour it must be for him to be acknowledged and celebrated for his hard work and talent, especially on a national stage,” said Charles Kopun, associate dean, School of Media Studies. “And for us here at Niagara College, it’s always so gratifying to see our students succeed and shine.”

Mertens was nominated for the national student award by PR program coordinator Emily McInerney who noted his high marks, level of professionalism and keen desire to learn, along with the positive impression he left on his instructors, peers and industry guests during his time in the program. In addition to his studies as a full-time student, he also worked freelance communications to support small business owners and non-profit organizations.

“He fully immersed himself in the Niagara College Public Relations Graduate Certificate program and took advantage of every single networking opportunity offered to the class, asked thoughtful questions when we had industry guest speakers, and became an active member of the CPRS Hamilton mentorship program,” said McInerney. “Academically, he delivered polished and strategic work consistently across both terms and, most importantly, showed steady improvement and growth.”

Mertens attributes much of his early success to the experience he gained from NC.

“I had high expectations for the program at Niagara College and every instructor, every class continually exceeded my expectations,” he said. “Over the past year, I’ve had experience working with non-profit social impact organizations lobbying for human rights, worked with an array of small business owners, launched events for tourism organizations, and now I’m working with some of the top beauty and fashion brands in the world – all from my 100% virtual education at Niagara College.”

This isn’t the first award win for Mertens. In May, he received the CPRS Hamilton’s Student Award of Excellence. In March, he was also recognized with the PR program’s coveted Senator Keith Davey Award, which is granted to the top student for dedicated leadership to his peers, and cultivating the mentorship of faculty and industry partners.

Niagara College’s Public Relations program is a one-year graduate certificate. For information, visit

Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine science, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. Visit


Media inquiries, please contact:

Julie Greco
Corporate Communications Consultant
Cell: 905-328-2532
[email protected]

Michael Wales
Manager, Corporate Communications
Cell: 905-328-4101
[email protected]

On-campus vaccination clinic for students, staff and public to be held on September 13 and 20

Niagara College students, staff, and members of the public will be able to receive a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on campus this September.

GO-VAXX bus, a mobile vaccination clinic, will be on campus for drop-ins on the following dates:

September 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. @ the Welland Campus in parking lot A (east side).
September 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. @ the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake in parking lot A (south side).

Maps of campus lots can be found on the NC website. Parking is free for those visiting the Go-VAXX bus.

The GO-VAXX bus operates as a fully functioning vaccine clinic with the necessary supplies and trained staff to provide assistance to people and ensure vaccines are administered safely. All COVID-19 safety precautions will be followed on board, including the required pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination monitoring. A tent will be set up where you will be asked to wait for 15 minutes after your vaccine. The GO-VAXX bus is administering the Pfizer vaccine.

Bring your health card. If you do not have a health card or if it’s expired, bring another form of government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport, status card, or birth certificate. Please do not visit the GO-VAXX bus if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

To learn more about the GO-VAXX bus, visit


Important update and reminder for all Students and Employees: Mandatory Vaccine Policy

As we prepare for the start of term we are providing important reminders for students and employees who will be studying or working on campus this Fall.

Niagara College has implemented a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy in response to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, in consultation with public health authorities and at the direction of the province of Ontario. You can view Niagara College’s COVID-19 vaccination policy here. The policy applies to all students, employees contractors and official visitors who are attending a Niagara College campus as of September 7, 2021.

Important Reminder: Check the status of your vaccine documents

If you are working or studying on campus starting next week, you have been advised of the requirement to submit documentation via the student or employee portal. Once you’ve done so, an important reminder to confirm that your vaccine documentation has been approved. This can be done via the student or employee portal by clicking the “Vaccine Policy Documentation” link. The status column will be marked as ‘approved,’ ‘pending,’ ‘rejected’ or ‘flagged for review.’ If the status is ‘rejected,’ it will indicate the reason for rejection, which must be addressed before you can access campus. Common issues that lead to documentation being rejected include:

  • Legibility (documents are unreadable);
  • Validity (ie: not government-issued, or not in English or French);
  • Names on the documents don’t match names on College records.

New: Mandatory Testing

On August 31, the province of Ontario notified all colleges and universities in the province that, in addition to having mandatory vaccine policies in place, colleges and universities must require individuals who are only partially vaccinated or who have an approved exemption to “submit to regular antigen point of care testing for COVID 19 and demonstrate a negative result at … a minimum of every seven days,” and “provide verification of the negative test result in a manner determined by the (College).”

If you are a student or employee to whom this new provincial requirement will apply, you will be contacted directly, and you will be provided with further information on the College’s processes for testing and submitting an attestation of negative test results in the coming days, including how and where you can access testing. Once this process is underway, those who have provided vaccine documentation and are not fully vaccinated, AND those who have been approved for an exemption must provide Niagara College with an attestation of a negative test result at least every seven days, and in some cases every day that you attend campus, until you have provided proof of full vaccination (two doses, and 14 days have elapsed), or until further notice if you have been exempted from the mandatory vaccination policy on medical or religious/creed grounds. In the meantime, current access procedures and requirements will remain in place.

Niagara College’s mandatory vaccine policy will be updated to reflect this new provincial requirement as of September 7.

Update: Exemptions

Niagara College’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy also outlines how employees and students who are not vaccinated due to medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code can request an exemption. Application forms can be found here.

Those who have applied for an exemption under the grounds outlined above will be contacted directly when their application has been reviewed and approved or denied. If your application has been denied or you have not received confirmation that your application for an exemption has been approved, you will not be approved for access to campus until your application has been approved.

If your exemption has been approved, you will receive further information regarding additional requirements for campus access, including the provincial testing requirement outlined above.

Access to campus

If you have not uploaded proof of vaccination or if your proof of vaccination has not been approved or if you have applied for an exemption but it has been denied or has not yet been approved, please do not come to campus as you will not be permitted access.

FAQs regarding Niagara College’s mandatory vaccination policy can be found here.

Mark your calendars for NC’s highly interactive Virtual Spring Convocation Ceremonies

As the Spring season approaches, planning is underway for our convocation ceremonies this June, and we look forward to celebrating the hard-earned accomplishments of NC’s Class of 2021.

With the health and safety of our college community the top priority during COVID-19, and with physical distancing and limited gathering measures remaining in place, NC’s Spring Convocation Ceremonies will once again take a virtual format.

During the week of June 21 to 25, highly interactive and engaging ceremonies will be live streamed from NC’s Welland Campus. President Sean Kennedy and vice president, Academic, Fiona Allan will take to the convocation stage each day to deliver the ceremonies and celebrate with students, virtually.

“Although the current circumstances prevent us from celebrating in person, we are working ‘NC together’ to create a memorable celebration of our students and their remarkable accomplishments as they embark on the next chapter of their lives,” said president Kennedy.

Building on the success of NC’s Virtual Convocation Ceremonies in 2020, which drew tens of thousands of views from across Niagara, Canada and around the world, this year’s celebrations will feature the innovative elements from the previous events and incorporate new enhancements.

Through NC’s Virtual Convocation, graduates are invited to be active participants in their ceremony. As they participate from the comfort of home, graduates can connect with their fellow classmates and faculty through program Zoom parties and become convocation content creators through a custom social media experience. Using the hashtag #NCGrad2021, graduates can share photos and videos of their at-home convocation celebrations, which will be integrated into the live ceremonies in real-time. Select clips from the Zoom parties will also be incorporated into the livestream, enabling graduates to make an on-screen appearance.

Further details regarding virtual convocation, including ceremony times, schedules and a special guest speaker, will be available in the coming weeks.

Students should also be advised that May 31, 2021 is the deadline to meet graduation requirements to be included in our Spring Virtual Convocation Ceremonies. Please review your MyNC account to ensure your final grades are submitted before this date.

Visit for updates.

a graduating student is pictured during his at-home convocation celebration a 2020 grad is pictured at home with a graduation cap and gown

New partnership creates a world of opportunities for students

Niagara College and Global University Systems (GUS) announced a partnership today that provides a broad range of opportunities for students from both organizations, sets the stage for collaborative international projects and partnerships, and the delivery of select Niagara College credentials at GUS’s Toronto School of Management (TSoM).

Based in the Netherlands and with a strong presence in Canada, Global University Systems (GUS) is a network of higher education institutions offering undergraduate, graduate and law degree programs, educating more than 85,000 students worldwide. The new agreement has received approval from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, under provincial policy that creates flexibility for public colleges to partner with private colleges to expand the delivery of programs.

Through the partnership, four Niagara College business and hospitality programs will be delivered at GUS’s Toronto School of Management in downtown Toronto, providing international students with the opportunity to enrol in NC’s programs while accessing the significant employment, recreational and entertainment opportunities offered in Toronto.

The initial programs within the partnership, with the first intake already open for Spring 2021 are:

  • Business General
  • International Business Management (Graduate Certificate)
  • Hospitality and Tourism Management (Graduate Certificate)
  • Human Resources Management (Graduate Certificate)

TSoM has been selected as the exclusive partner to deliver these credentials in Toronto. The agreement ensures that the student experience and academic delivery of programming will be aligned with NC’s exceptional student experience. A comprehensive quality assurance framework will ensure that students at the Toronto location enjoy the same level of academic rigor, and quality of student services that are offered at NC’s Niagara-based campuses. Programs will be delivered by expert TSoM faculty, and graduates will receive a Niagara College credential.

“We’re fortunate to have a partner with an exceptional track record in higher education and global engagement, who demonstrates the ability and the commitment to meet the high standards that we set for our programs and our services,” said Niagara College president Sean Kennedy.

“We are honoured to have been chosen by a prestigious institution such as Niagara College Canada to work together,” said Ehsan Safdari, Managing Director at TSoM. “We are equally committed to support students with professional education that will help them in their careers. We believe this will be a great opportunity to provide students with expanded access to Niagara College’s top-quality programs. We look forward to working with them and welcoming their students at our campus.”

The agreement also paves the way for Niagara College students to pursue study abroad, co-op placements, exchanges and international field studies within the GUS network; pathways from Niagara College diploma programs to GUS degree programs, cooperative global business and educational development programs; and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and English as a Subsequent Language (ESL) project possibilities globally.

“This exciting partnership is an important part of our broader strategy to create new global opportunities for students, and support long-term enrolment stability and growth,” said Niagara College president Sean Kennedy. “The agreement is also driven by our entrepreneurial spirit, as we work to identify global partnership opportunities that support our core operations in Niagara.”

“We are excited to see TSoM engage in this innovative and entrepreneurial partnership,” said Cyndi McLeod, GUS Canada CEO. “This collaboration aims to provide all students with high-quality education that prepares them for Ontario’s workforce while meeting the demand from international students for Niagara College postsecondary programs.”

For more information, visit


Media inquiries, please contact:

Michael Wales
Manager, Corporate Communications
Niagara College
Cell: 905 328-4101
[email protected]

Ehsan Safdari
Managing Director, TSoM
Toronto School of Management
Cell: 647-648-6507
[email protected]

About the Toronto School of Management

Toronto School of Management (TSoM) is an innovative college offering a broad range of career-focused programs in business, hospitality and tourism, digital marketing, cybersecurity, data analytics and accounting. Located among some of North America’s leading firms and organizations, the school offers an ideal environment for students who are eager to immerse themselves in a vibrant business community and diverse cultural activities.

Toronto School of Management is a registered private career college accredited by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

The campus is situated in the heart of Ontario’s capital – Canada’s business and culture hub. The central location welcomes students from around the world to guide them along the path to become successful accountants and business professionals.

TSoM partners with many companies from a range of industries to make sure that students get the most benefit from their course. These partnerships mean that students can join a real workplace and gain valuable experience.

TSoM works with industry leaders to design and deliver innovative, career-centric programs. We work tirelessly to provide students with the right combination of academic excellence and practical hands-on experience, educating ambitious people to take their careers further.

About Niagara College

Situated in the heart of the Niagara region, Niagara College delivers more than 130 certificate, diploma, advanced diploma and bachelor’s degree programs from specialized campuses in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Welland.

Currently, more than 9,000 full-time students study at Niagara College, including students from more than 120 countries. Niagara College is also involved in projects and partnerships around the world.

A leader in applied education, Niagara College’s areas of specialization include business, hospitality and tourism, advanced technology, agri-business and food and wine sciences. Programs are supported by unique learning enterprises, including Canada’s first commercial teaching winery, brewery and distillery; a greenhouse, spa and restaurant. In 2018, Niagara College launched Canada’s first postsecondary credential in commercial cannabis production.

Niagara College is also a leader in applied research and in 2019 was named Canada’s number-one research college by Research InfoSource. Through its applied research activities, students, and faculty and staff experts work with industry partners, helping companies innovate, and create new products and processes.

Learn more at

Artisan Distilling program’s first rum wins bronze at U.S. competition

Spirits are high at the Niagara College Teaching Distillery after a student-produced rum won bronze at the U.S. Open Whiskey and Spirits Championships.

The accolades for School Spirits Small Batch Rum, produced by the first students to graduate from the Artisan Distilling program, came in the Dark/Barrel Aged Rum category of the competition, which included entries from throughout Canada and the U.S. Niagara College was the only teaching distillery to be among the winners in any category.

“It feels good to win an award like this,” said David Dickson, College distiller. “It instills a sense of pride that, in such a short time, our students have been able to develop to such a level to create a high quality spirit. To be able to achieve this in such a short time feels like a real feather in our cap.”

The award-winning rum was a year in the making by students, who saw their handiwork compete against rums aged longer or blended with spirits from elsewhere. Production of the School Spirits Small Batch Rum started six months into the year-long program when students began fermenting dark brown sugar. All signs pointed to something special in the works after their first distillation using small copper pot stills to capture only the best fraction of the spirit. 

The rum was fermented in a two-week process, which is slower than typical production, and led to a more complete attenuation of sugar by the yeast. Students took charge of the entire process, Dickson noted, signing their name to the 57-litre bourbon cask in which the spirit was left to age for 12 months, the minimum a Canadian rum must mature in a barrel.

“Then they went off in their careers. It was sort of like a time capsule,” Dickson said. “Their finesse was what caused the spirit to age like it did.”

The result was a rum with a surprising golden colour, and a clean and balanced aromatic profile with notes of vanilla and candied fruit. It’s dry and light in body compared to rums with added sweeteners. The finish has a pleasing texture with vanilla, caramel and a touch of bourbon spice.

“Our first student-crafted rum clearly demonstrates our students’ talents and skills when it comes to distillation and fermentation,” said Steve Gill, general manager of Niagara College’s Learning Enterprises. “The fact that they so confidently took on the production of rum and then earned such honours alongside spirits produced by more established distilleries elsewhere in North America also speaks to the quality of teaching happening in our Artisan Distilling program. It shows that the future of craft distilling in Canada is in capable hands.”

Two hundred 375-millilitre bottles of School Spirits Small Batch Rum were released for sale earlier this summer at the Wine Visitor + Education Centre (Niagara College Daniel J. Patterson Campus, 135 Taylor Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake). The rum sells for $26 with proceeds from sales supporting student learning.

Visit to learn more about the awards. 

Niagara College’s Teaching Distillery is a 2,500-square-foot facility equipped with five stills, four mash tuns and 10 fermenters. Home to the College’s Artisan Distilling program, students produce a variety of distilled products including vodka, gin, brandy, rum, whisky and other spirits. It opened in September 2018, completing the trifecta of beverage fermentation sciences at NC’s learning enterprises, following the footsteps of its Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery which were also the first of their kind in Canada.

Niagara College offers more than 150 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


Julie Greco
Communications Consultant, Niagara College
Cell: 905 328 2532
[email protected]

Michael Wales
Manager, Corporate Communications
Cell: 905-328-4101
[email protected]

Former NC president Dan Patterson named President Emeritus; contributions to post-secondary sector recognized with national award

Niagara College’s fifth president, Dan Patterson, PhD, has been honoured with two special accolades in recognition of his remarkable contributions to Niagara College and Canada’s post-secondary landscape during his distinguished career.

Patterson, who concluded his 25-year tenure as NC president this past February, has been named President Emeritus of Niagara College, a designation bestowed on him by the College’s Board of Governors effective July 1, 2020. The honorary title recognizes Patterson’s outstanding service to the College and local communities.

“I, along with the entire Board of Governors, am thrilled to acknowledge Dan’s remarkable contributions to Niagara College, and our local communities, through the President Emeritus designation,” said John Scott, Chair of Niagara College’s Board of Governors. “Dan’s leadership and vision were vital to the dynamic evolution of the College over the past 25 years, and I am proud to confer his Emeritus status as part of his legacy in Niagara.”

Earlier this week, Patterson was also recognized by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) as the 2020 recipient of its Distinguished Service Award, an honour given to him by his peers on CICan’s Presidents’ Leadership Network.

“As one of our longest sitting presidents, Dan Patterson has left an indelible mark on Niagara College, but also on the entire network of Canadian colleges and institutes,” said CICan President and CEO, Denise Amyot. “Under his leadership, Niagara College has grown into a vibrant institution that has both strong local and national impacts. He has had an extraordinary career, but he stood out for his contagious enthusiasm and his generosity when it came to supporting his peers and sharing his knowledge and expertise with others.”

Sean Kennedy, who succeeded Patterson as president of Niagara College this year, said the CICan Distinguished Service Award shows that Patterson also left a mark on postsecondary education in Canada.

“While we at Niagara College appreciate Dan’s remarkable legacy, this national honour really demonstrates that Dan’s lasting contributions to the college sector reach far beyond the borders of Niagara and Ontario,” said Kennedy. “I was fortunate to have Dan as a colleague and mentor for many years, and it gives me great pleasure to see him receive such well-deserved recognition.”

CICan is the voice of Canada’s publicly-supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics, and an international leader in education for employment with ongoing programs in over 25 countries. Learn more at

Niagara College offers more than 150 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, spirits, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


Photo caption: Former Niagara College president Dan Patterson is pictured at one of the many convocation ceremonies he celebrated over his 25-year career with the College.

Media inquiries, please contact:

Michael Wales
Manager, Corporate Communications
Cell: 905-328-4101
[email protected]