Update: June 25, 2020, 2:37 PM
Progress Campus A-Block Expansion Project moves ahead
Centennial College is moving ahead with our bold A-Block expansion project, a design build proposal led by EllisDon together with DIALOG Architects and Smoke Architecture. The new addition will be a mass timber, zero-carbon building with academic programming space for our School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science programs. It will feature flexible classrooms that support Indigenous ways of teaching and being, as well as support areas such as Wisdom Hall, an engaging student touchdown area, along with collaborative spaces, administrative offices and food services.
Despite the pandemic shutdown, a lot of work has taken place over the last few months to keep the project moving forward, including design development with College stakeholders and our project team consisting of Colliers Project Leaders, Gow Hastings Architects and our design-builder EllisDon with DIALOG Architects.
We received executive approval to proceed with the early works scope of work, which enables site preparation in advance of the ground breaking and actual construction. This scope includes renovations inside of A-Block to prepare the corridors and stairwells for code-compliant entrances and exit points necessitated by the eventual removal of the pedestrian bridge at the front doors.
With the prospect of limited numbers of students, faculty and staff returning to campus in July, we would like to outline some of the preparatory work that is currently underway so that everyone is aware that construction crews are working in and around our A-Block building.
- Relocation of the campus TTC bus stop began in May by creating a new four-bay transit stop between parking lots #3 and #4. These two lots are closed until mid-July to facilitate this work. The existing TTC bus stop adjacent to A-Block will remain in use until the new stop is completed, which will be communicated later this summer.
- Progress Campus users can park in lots #2, 5, 6 and 7.
- Parking Lot #9 on the south side of A-Block is now closed and transformed into the staging area for EllisDon. The entire area will be fenced off and access will be restricted. This location also includes EllisDon’s COVID-19 checkpoint site, required for all workers to check in daily. This will remain in place until the end of August 2023.
- The interior renovations to support our building code compliance will take place throughout the 3rd floor and all stairwells, as well as some minor work within the SETAS ICET office area and corridors. There will also be hoarding installed inside prior to the pedestrian bridge being removed (anticipated around July 27).
- Work scheduled for the next eight weeks includes installation of exterior site hoarding, rerouting of the underground watermain, electrical services, gas and sewer lines; removal and relocation of the main transformer; removal of the bridge and nearby landscaping, including trees.
Sean Kinsella, Director, the Eighth Fire, recently performed his respectful ceremony that includes a blessing and recognition that the trees that have graced our property surrounding A-Block will be removed.
If you’d like to follow the construction of our A-Block expansion, feel free to check in using our live webcam.
More details pertaining to construction schedules, parking, pedestrian and traffic flow changes, and key milestone activities will be provided in upcoming College communications. If you are coming to Progress Campus this summer, please be mindful of contractors carrying out work in and around A-Block and proceed with care.
Update: June 25, 2020, 2:24 PM
Your Good News Bulletin
Suzhou Centennial College holds first graduation
Suzhou Centennial College hosted its inaugural graduation ceremony for 522 students on Saturday, June 20, which was presented live on China Mobile’s Tianyi Live. Launched in 2016, SCC represents the first Canadian institution registered and approved by the Chinese government to deliver Canadian post-secondary programs and confer Canadian diplomas in China. The joint learning site was established in association with Suzhou University of Science and Technology and is approved by China’s Ministry of Education. In addition to SCC President Dr. Peng Zhenyun presiding over the ceremony, Centennial College President Dr. Craig Stephenson addressed the graduands by live link. Read all about the event here.
Centennial awarded $3.5 million for applied research
Centennial College has received $3.5 million in long-term research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The sum, involving three distinct grants, will support multiple applied research projects and extend Centennial’s capacity to sustain student research in areas including energy optimization and storage, healthcare management and health research. Leading these activities is Centennial’s Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES) department, which includes the Wearable, Interactive and Mobile Technology Access Centre in Health (WIMTACH) and the new Innovation Hub at Progress Campus. Currently, WIMTACH engages more students in paid research opportunities than any other Technology Access Centre activity in Canada. Read about the grants here.
Virtual Pride Watch Party to raise funds for 2SLGBTQQIA+ students
This year the Pride Committee pivoted from in-person celebrations, which included the annual Pride Picnic and participation in Toronto’s Pride Parade, to a Virtual Pride Watch Party on Thursday, June 25 from noon to 1 pm. This party, which can be viewed here, is not only an opportunity to celebrate and further our commitment to create more inclusive spaces for Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) communities, but also serves as a fundraiser for the COVID-19 Relief Bursary. All donations to the fund this week (June 22-26) will go towards supporting 2SLGBTQQIA+ students in financial need at Centennial. The party will feature messages, resources and entertainment, including drag performances from Centennial’s own Culinary Diva Devine Darling and local superhero Lucy Flawless. Show your messages of support using #ShowYourPrideCC on social media. Can’t make the live stream? You can view a recording after the party and donate to the fundraiser.
Children’s Media alumni projects among CBC fund picks
CBC received close to 9,000 applications for their Creative Relief Fund program, and funded 119 projects that will give budding storytellers an opportunity to shine. Among the 1 per cent who were selected for the program are two projects led by Centennial alumni of the Children’s Media program at the Story Arts Centre!
In the Short Docs category is “Lockdown Baby” by Ian Mark Kimanje and Emily Kimanje. It’s the story of a loving couple bringing a new life into the world at a time when everyone else is preoccupied by death. Emily Kimanje (nee DeVries) graduated in 2014 and used to work in our KidsMediaCentre. In the Innovation Stream – Kids & Tweens – category is “Bunker Buds,” a dystopian sitcom for tweens by Toronto’s Balloon House, an Emmy-nominated production company led by Kimberly Persona (Class of 2014) and Brandon Lane (2010). It’s about five teen friends partying in a bunker when a mysterious global “happening” forces everyone in the world to stay inside and quarantine indefinitely.
Update: June 25, 2020, 2:22 PM
Completion of Winter 2020 Labs
Further to the June 10 announcement by Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, Centennial College will be inviting a limited number of students to return to campus starting the week of July 6 to accommodate the hands-on lab work they must complete to fulfil their program’s requirements for the Winter 2020 semester.
Students who need to complete their Winter lab component will soon receive a personalized email communication providing specific lab details and information on lab start dates and timetables. Likewise, faculty and staff who are essential to teach and facilitate the labs will also be receiving specific return-to-campus information from their Dean or Chair.
To reiterate, only students, faculty and staff who are required on campus will be contacted directly. For everyone else, our work-at-home provisions and online/remote learning will continue for the majority of our operations.
Summer Semester Labs
In August, we intend to accommodate some lab activity for students enrolled in the Summer 2020 semester. By working together this summer, we will slowly ramp up our activities – safely and securely – to be better able to respond to our learners.
Over the next few weeks we will provide more details to the community to ensure a safe return to campus and we encourage you to visit our website for regular updates.
Update: June 25, 2020, 1:58 PM
Centennial College Summer Camps Cancelled
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Centennial College has made the difficult decision to cancel all Summer camps for the 2020 season. These actions are necessary to limit the number of individuals on campus and to follow the direction of Public Health with regards to gathering in public spaces.
We know that these camps have been very popular with our employees and external community members. However, the health and safety of our community during these unprecedented times is our top priority when making this decision.
We look forward to being able to run our camps again next summer.
Update: June 22, 2020, 12:10 PM
Monday Message from Craig Stephenson, President and CEO
During the past four months, we have all witnessed personal acts of “caremongering” and the heroic efforts of frontline workers who have reinforced our belief in the power of the human spirit and our capacity to do so much good for others. That is the ideal to hold on to at this time. On the flip side, however, there are those who will seek to take advantage of and illicitly profit from this situation. Cybercrime is a key example of this, and consequently we must be all the more vigilant and all the more aware of this issue.
Over the past several months, cybercriminals have been targeting understaffed and distressed enterprises preoccupied by pandemic-related organizational challenges. On top of everything else going on, institutions and businesses continue to grapple with cybersecurity threats that pose serious risks to their data security and even their financial viability. Centennial has not been immune to this.
Since launching Centennial’s Cyber Security Incident and Event Monitoring solution, we saw, within the first week of going live, 1,684,685,830 events on the College’s networks, 176,917 correlated events, and 435 alarms triggered, resulting in seven cyber investigations. Staggering statistics indeed!
As daily users of email, we are frequently exposed to phishing attempts designed to pique our curiosity. IT often finds phishing emails targeting payroll, where the attacker pretends to be an employee trying to have their payroll information changed so that the next paycheck can be deposited into their bank account.
If team members unwittingly hand over their credentials, attackers can do immense damage by stealing sensitive data (student information, including grades, phone numbers, etc.) or employee information. With admin credentials, they can make changes to our systems, or encrypt our entire data system, demanding we pay a ransom to gain access to our information again. This worst-case scenario has seen colleges, universities, hospitals, and other organizations pay significant amounts to restore their databases, and private companies are not immune to these threats either.
Pre-empting this as a major risk area long before COVID-19, we researched, consulted and invested in leading technologies, staff and tools to pinpoint where the threats are and to shut them down. Centennial’s Cyber Security Team, and its recently appointed Director, investigate cyberattacks, determine the breadth and severity of the attacks, and then work to remove those emails from our inboxes. If anyone has clicked on links or handed over credentials, the team works to remediate and minimize the risk to the College by resetting passwords and scanning computers for malware, among other corrective measures. The team has also adopted a highly proactive stance, conducting, for example, a “penetration test” involving more than 110 researchers and identifying several vulnerabilities that we are currently working to resolve. Testing our systems is one step in keeping the malicious actors out. We hire “ethical hackers” to help us discover these issues before the real hackers take advantage of them.
So please do be vigilant and extra cautious, especially now that we are working from remote locations. Watch for our email banner which tells you if an email has originated from outside the organization – it is your first clue as to whether you should trust the sender. Phishing attacks typically draw on our human emotions and use trickery to phish you. I urge you to keep this in mind the next time you receive an unusual email request.
Finally, let me express my heartfelt thanks to our Cyber Security Team within IT Services, which meticulously protects our College networks from nefarious exploits, vulnerabilities, and attackers who can do so much damage to our databases, our financial system and our institutional reputation. By working together and being attentive, we can all make the most of our IT systems and networks without fear of disruptive cybercrimes.
Dr. Craig Stephenson
President and CEO, Centennial College
Update: June 21, 2020, 9:45 AM
Today is a very special day in Canada – National Indigenous Peoples Day!
National Indigenous Peoples Day offers an opportunity to pause, reflect, recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples to Canadian culture, history, and identity. As the Prime Minister stated when National Aboriginal Day was renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day, “the history, art, traditions, and cultures of Indigenous Peoples have shaped our past, and continue to shape who we are today.”
This is indeed a moment to celebrate, particularly at Centennial, as it was only about a decade ago that we began our journey with elders, traditionalists and Indigenous community leaders, faculty and staff. Our journey began with focusing upon access and success for Indigenous students, but in the build up to and following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, it extended to include Indigenous voices, history, culture and knowledge into the fabric of the institution itself. The most recent example is the embedding of Indigenous design principles into Centennial’s A-Block Expansion, which has been designed to create spaces for conversation and learning circles, land-based teachings and Indigenous ceremonies – once built, it will be a moment to truly celebrate!
Following consultations with our Indigenous Education Council, staff and students, we have also very recently witnessed the launch of the Place of Reconciliation for All Our Relations and the hiring of our first Director, the Eighth Fire. In alignment with the Teaching of the Three Obligations to balance self, family, and community, the Centre serves to challenge and guide the Centennial College community, and those with relationships with the College, towards the lighting of the Eighth Fire and a world of connectedness among all living things.
Lighting the Eighth Fire translates to decolonizing and Indigenizing the College, and inspiring transformation with communities, towards truth and reconciliation obligations as captured in the College’s Indigenous Strategic Framework and Book of Commitments.
Such critical work, however, could never have be undertaken had it not been for the tireless efforts of Indigenous faculty and staff, the Indigenous community members on the College’s Aboriginal Education Council (AEC), and many other Indigenous traditionalists, elders within the GTA and beyond. Those working to create equity in our institution and within our communities are always doing so at tremendous cost to themselves, their careers and their families, particularly when confronting the anti-Indigenous racism that exists consciously or otherwise in the minds of many who live on these lands – that undoubtedly has its toll and needs acknowledging. I also want to thank the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Anishinaabe and the Métis Nation, whose flags are currently flying at our Progress Campus and whose partnerships have been instrumental in informing our journey thus far.
So please, do reach out to Indigenous colleagues, students and community members and give a Gichi-Miigwetch for the dedication, support and education they continue to provide to our Centennial community. And do take a moment, too, to recognize the work of all those across the institution who have and continue to advocate for the contributions of our Indigenous colleagues and students and ensure they are supported. This includes the specific solidarity we have seen from Black and other racialized colleagues around collective liberation and holding us all accountable to the climate on the campus that we co-create. Gichi-Miigwetch!
Today is a celebration, tomorrow the journey continues
We recognize that much work has happened to celebrate the unique cultures and the contributions of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Afro-Indigenous community members to the very fabric of Centennial. I hope today you can take a moment to celebrate that, while acknowledging there is more learning for us to do to address the histories of marginalization and harm that Indigenous peoples have faced since the initial Treaties that were signed in Peace and Friendship. Indeed, the more we can learn ourselves about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, the more we are able to share in this learning journey with an open heart.
Today is a celebration, tomorrow the journey continues. For Centennial, it always comes back full circle to our students, the most important people in our world. So I am pleased that not only have we have set monies aside for Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous students, but we will also create scholarships for Two Spirited, Queer and Trans* identifying Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous students as part of our Pride Scholarship fund raising campaign from June 18-26.
I look forward to the day when we can once again physically celebrate with our Indigenous scholarship awardees, and indeed with all our Indigenous students. Until then, let us acknowledge and celebrate where we are and what we have achieved while never losing sight of where we are heading and the work still to be done.
Dr. Craig Stephenson
President and CEO, Centennial College