Seneca in the News is a collection of media coverage excerpts about Seneca College, its staff, students and alumni.

Seneca in the news: December/January

Seneca in the news: December/January

Provincial Government invests in Seneca College infrastructure    
Seneca College’s share of a $200 million investment in post-secondary education profiled in the Markham Economist and Sun – January 29, 2008 (Seneca Granted almost $6.5 for high-tech gear).  Also appeared in and The North York Mirror – January 29, 2008

Seneca College received almost $6.5 million in provincial grants today.

The Money will be used to buy high-tech equipment for all of Seneca’s facilities, including its Markham and King campuses, President Rick Miner said.

“We are delighted to see the value of the polytechnic education we provide at Seneca recognized with more than $6 million of much needed funding,” said Miner.

The money was part of a $200-million investment in college and university campuses announced today by John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities…

Seneca’s President in the Spotlight          
Dr. Rick Miner talks about his life and leading Seneca College in the Markham Economist and Sun – January 25, 2008 (Driving Seneca’s Growth in Markham: 10 Minutes with Rick Miner)

As president of Seneca College since 2001, Dr. Rick Miner, 61, oversees eight campuses in the GTA, a budget of $250 million, more than 100,000 students and 3,000 staff members.

As congenial as he is qualified, the American-born and educated academic and business administration specialist works from the Markham campus, the tower bought from Allstate Insurance.

A Canadian citizen since 1976, Dr. Miner served as vice-president of the University of New Brunswick for seven years before taking the helm at Seneca.

He has authored books and papers on management and organizational behaviour and has lectured internationally.

…Q: What’s been your proudest achievement at Seneca thus far?
A: Probably the fact we have differentiated status from the (provincial) government. We’re offering more applied degrees and getting more involved in research. We’ve allowed access to different programs. We’re laying the groundwork in the post-secondary evolution.

…Q: What’s your best advice to anyone thinking of college?
A: Spend time thinking about what it will mean to you. Take time with a career counsellor. We have a great department. Find out what the programs and career is like and whether you’ll be suited…

Seneca Broadcasting-Television student creates a buzz with Hillary Clinton campaign promotion video  
19 year old Seneca student profiled in The Toronto Sun – January 18, 2008    (He gets Clinton's vote: Seneca student persuades ex-prez to let him make Hillary campaign video). Profile also appeared in The St. Catharine’s Standard – January 18, 2008, The London Free Press – January 18, 2008

…Lucas Baiano, 19, says it was about two weeks before Christmas when he approached Clinton and asked to make a promotion video of his wife.

The Seneca College…student scored a ticket to an exclusive meet-and-greet with the former U.S. president, who was promoting his new book in Toronto.

Baiano had 10 seconds to make his pitch. He appealed to Clinton's vanity by quoting from his book, then said he had dual citizenship and wanted to help Clinton's wife, Hillary, "change the world" by making her a campaign video.

Clinton's expression changed. Then he handed Baiano his personal business card.

Fast-forward a month, and Baiano's YouTube trailer extolling Hillary Clinton's virtues is a hit with fans of the presidential candidate. It was compiled using six hours of raw footage sent to Baiano from Clinton's campaign office, cut into a slick three minutes promoting Clinton's policies on boosting the middle class.


…Approaching Bill Clinton was daunting, he said... As Baiano waited, he rehearsed his speech in his head. Then he overheard someone say that each person would only get 10 seconds to speak with Clinton and pose for a photo.

When Clinton handed him a business card, Baiano expected a token "vote for Hillary!" card. Instead it read "The office of William Jefferson Clinton" with the former president's personal e-mail address.

From there, Baiano corresponded with Hillary's office and pulled all-nighters for two weeks, working on the video through classroom seminars and leading a "sheltered life."

Baiano is uncertain of the final fate of his video, which can be viewed by visiting -- search "Hillary Clinton trailer" and view the video by LumiereB...

Seneca College’s partners with local companies to find innovative business solutions 
Seneca’s involvement with Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation profiled in The Markham Economist and Sun – January 18, 2008 (Markham firm poised to debut virtual companion), also profiled in Ontario Industrial Magazine – December 31, 2007

…After four years and millions of dollars, Markham's Tertec Enterprises is ready to debut its virtual companion Mon Ami, thanks, in part, to the efforts of Seneca College students.

Students brought a fresh perspective that helped push the project over the top, said Terry D'Silva, Tertec's chief executive.

…Seneca is one of 10 Ontario colleges helping small and medium-size businesses through the new Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation.

…A $3.5-million grant from the Ministry of Research and Innovation is providing operational and start-up funding expected to carry the program to 2009. Funding from the private sector will be needed to keep it going.

But if the support shown by the business community in the first year is any indication, it shouldn't be a problem, said Katharine Janzen, chairperson of the consortium's steering committee and vice-president of research and innovation at Seneca.

...However, most of the work does not count toward school credit. Faculty and students who take on business opportunities are retained on contract 90 per cent of the time and get paid as part-time employees, Ms Janzen said.

Since colleges are non-profit organizations, Seneca set up a for-profit corporation, operating at arm's length from the school, so staff and students can be contracted for research and consulting.

"Most small and medium size businesses don't have the resources to build on their own. It's a real world challenge (a company) is facing. We can improve their processes, products and exporting to make them more globally competitive," Ms Janzen said.

…But before any project is undertaken, applications submitted by businesses are vetted by the organization. If it is innovative and has real-world value for students, the project may be eligible for government funding.

…Most of the projects last one to two years. However, some extend past 2009, Ms Janzen said.
The Tertec-Seneca partnership is now in its third year, Mr. D'Silva said...

Seneca opening doors for finance career advancement 
Seneca’s new Payroll program highlighted in Metro - January 15, 2008 (Adding it to the payroll: Seneca College to launch new finance program)

Seneca College’s School of Accounting and Finance will launch a new two-year program in payroll management this fall. Students will graduate with a diploma.   

“Our program makes a well-rounded individual that can move up in an organization,” says Robin Hemmingsen, the school of Accounting and Finance’s chair.

…Students will complete the Payroll Compliance Practitioner (PCP) certificate that is distributed through the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA).

…For three of the four compulsory courses in the Payroll Compliance Practitioner certificate, students will use material that comes from the Canadian Payroll Association… Once they’ve passed the course’s exam, then the student’s credit received in the course is also recognized by the CPA.

The program was created out of necessity, says Ramona Girdauskas, a professor in the department.
“There is a need for well-rounded individuals in the area,” she says, adding because of the specialization in payroll courses, entry level jobs tend to offer more money in terms of pay.

…Hemmingsen says courses will be offered in the day as well as in the evening.  The program will cost students roughly $2,020 annually.  Students will be required to also join the CPA.  Hemmingsen says the school is prepared to admit up to 70 students into the program…

Seneca College opens doors to victims of an apartment building fire 
Seneca’s involvement with the Red Cross during disasters featured in The Toronto Star – January 9, 2008 (Fire victims sent to college dorm; Some residents ousted by fatal apartment blaze taken by Red Cross to Seneca residences). Also appeared in Metro – January 9, 2008

Several tenants forced to leave their homes after a fatal fire in a north Toronto apartment building Monday are staying in student residences at Seneca College until it is safe to return.

"It's okay for now, but it's uncomfortable just knowing that I'm going to be here for two or three days," said Julliette Johnston, 28, who said she is one of about eight tenants staying at the Finch Ave. E. and Don Valley Parkway area campus housing.

…A spokesperson for Toronto Community Housing Corp., which the 249-unit complex on Keele St. north of Sheppard Ave. W., said residents from about 24 of the ground-floor units have been displaced while the Ontario fire marshal's office investigates.

Most of them are staying with family or friends, but the Canadian Red Cross took others to the college…

Founder of Seneca’s Financial Services Practitioner program talks about the need for new blood in the industry                                                                                                                               
Insurance industry director at Seneca College, Sam Albanese, discusses the changing industry in Investment Executive – January 4, 2008  (Handing over the reins to the next generation: Greying advisors need to focus on looming transition issues)

…The boomers — those born between 1947 and 1966 — will start hitting 65 within a few years... The retail investment industry came into its own in Canada by making sure that this group would be ready for retirement. Now it must plan for retirement within its own ranks.

…The planning sector will be the most immediately affected by the boomers’ exodus from the workforce...Insurance advisors, according to IE research, will lose only 60% of their numbers between now and 2029. Only the banks and credit unions can expect to retain more than half of their workforces after the boomers retire.

…What the industry needs to look at is the way these advisors will be leaving their businesses and who will be replacing them.

…Sam Albanese, insurance industry director at Seneca College and founder of Seneca’s financial services practitioner program, compares writing a succession plan to writing a will or planning one’s funeral, because it confirms what an advisor doesn’t want to admit — that they are not going to be running the show forever.

…Succession planning is usually one of the services that financial services dealers offer their in-house sales teams. If a retiring advisor can’t find a buyer for his or her book, the company will buy the book and sell it to an incoming advisor.

For an independent advisor, Albanese recommends choosing a successor, which could include taking on an apprentice who is groomed to take over the advisor’s clients.

…The cost of selecting and training a new partner can be a strong deterrent. The Seneca program has an $8,000 price-tag. Within the career sales forces, the cost is astronomical and the attrition rate is jaw-droppingly high, although less so for the major banks. Freedom 55’s four-year retention rate is industry-leading at 35% — which has to hurt, what with the cost of training a single agent hitting about $45,000 in the first year.

…The Seneca program, according to Albanese, teaches its students to be “entrepreneurs, not employees” by focusing on management and marketing as well as the hard skills that go with being an advisor. Albanese presents the program as a conduit that senior advisors can use to train their apprentices in areas that senior advisors may not be familiar with themselves. The successors will, after all, be managing a new generation of clients who may have different needs and priorities. “Technology-literate clients have product at their fingertips with the Internet,” says Albanese. “What they need is advice on increasingly complex products...”

Seneca College offers two new scholarships thanks to HSBC Bank Canada
Scholarships for Centre for Financial Services students profiled in The Business Executive (Oakville) – December 31, 2007 (HSBC Bank Canada establishes two scholarships at Seneca)

HSBC Bank Canada is making a global investment in the success of Canadian and international students at Seneca College.

HSBC has established a $200,000 endowment to provide two annual scholarships for students of Seneca’s Centre for Financial Services...

“Seneca is proud of the partnership that has been established with HSBC Bank Canada,” said Seneca President Dr. Rick Miner. “These scholarships will help our Canadian and international students reach their academic goals and become the future leaders of the financial services sector.”

The HSBC Bank Canada Business Studies Scholarships will be awarded to undergraduate students enrolled in programs at Seneca’s Centre for Financial Services who have demonstrated high academic standing and financial need.

One half of the $200,000 endowment will be administered through scholarships to Canadian students and the other to international students.

Seneca College partners with community group to give young people access to opportunity 
Seneca’s work with Youth Association of Academics, Athletics, and Character Education (Y.A.A.A.C.E) profiled in Sway Magazine – December 31, 2007 (From boys to men)


…Walking into the C.W. Jefferies High School gym where Devon Jones and Devon Thompson hold their Saturday afternoon basketball practices, the untrained eye wouldn’t notice anything amiss…

You wouldn’t know that for some of these kids, just being in the same room with each other is a remarkable achievement. Kids who were not only divided by neighbourhood lines (North Finch versus South Finch) were also divided by gang warfare lines (the Bloods versus the Crips). “…You have these kids who wouldn’t even look at each other, and now they have this opportunity to co-exist,” says Jones, co-creator of the Youth Association of Academics, Athletics, and Character Education (Y.A.A.A.C.E).

… Y.A.A.A.C.E has blossomed since its inception two years ago. Aimed primarily at being a proactive liaison between groups of kids estranged by turf issues, it has done everything from motivate kids to apply to college and trade schools, to give gainful summer employment to older kids looking to mentor younger ones.

…Recently, Seneca College agreed to work in conjunction with the program that has their kids being tutored by Seneca students and using the college’s state-of-the-art computer facilities and gyms for their academic and athletic sessions. The kids will dabble in everything, from video production to computer clubs to animation.

… Both men agree that the greatest success came last summer, when they had more than 200 kids from both sides of Finch to co-exist for the entire summer without incident…

Seneca’s Dean of Continuing Education talks about faculty and student excellence 
Seneca’s Susan Savoie discusses the value of alternative education models in Maclean’s – December 17, 2007 (Education Information Supplement)

…Continuing and distance education has never fit into the standard cookie-cutter post-secondary education model... It’s not the standard idyllic view of education.  It has always been a bit more off the grid, a vital tool for people who want to better themselves, change their lives, or just plain learn something – and are willing to work hard and sacrifice their evenings and weekends to do it…

…Susan Savoie, dean of continuing education at Seneca College in Toronto, Ont., says distance and continuing education courses have always held a certain level of respect in the community and industry, but that has been growing over time as more partnerships are made with different industries and businesses…

…”At Seneca we pride ourselves on our part-time faculty excellence.  We seek out people who are currently working in the industry in which we want them to teach, so they bring real life experiences that are current and up to date to the classrooms, so we rely heavily on those folks and we’re quite proud of them.”

Tips for Student Success     
Seneca’s Dean of Continuing Education and a Seneca student discuss success in Maclean’s – December 12, 2007 (Course Considerations: Interested in continuing or distance education? Here’s some advice from those in the know

1) Do Your Research.  When it comes to online and distance education, the world really is your oyster, so make sure you know what’s out there before you sign on to a specific program…

2) Take a Visit.  Before committing to a continuing education course on a college or university campus, it’s always important to get a feel for the school and the program before diving in… 

3) Test Your Full-Time Interest. If you are thinking of going into a full-time program but don’t have the time or funds to do so right now, investigate whether your program of choice offers some option in distance courses, says Susan Savoie, dean of continuing education at Seneca College in Toronto…

4) Support is There, if you Need it.  Be Aware that continuing and distance education institutions understand that many of their students have full and sometimes very stressful lives.  Once you are enrolled, there are resources you can draw on for support to help you achieve your goals.  Sandra Ahmed, who is in her final year of a practical nursing diploma that she has been taking part time at Seneca College, found out that her son had been in a very serious car accident shortly after enrolling in her college course.  She contacted the school to let them know she would be dropping out, and she says the college encouraged her to stay in school and provided her with counselling and lots of attention and support to get her work done and succeed.  “The people at that college have picked me up and brought me back to where I am today,” she says. 

Seneca Interior Decorating graduate applauded      
Meredith Heron, graduate of Seneca’s Interior Decorating program profiled in the Toronto Sun – December 2, 2007 (Interior decorator flying high: Continuing-ed classes help Meredith Heron Make Career Switch)

Ask Seneca College’s Susan Thom for the name of one of her successful students and bingo!  Just like that, she says “Meredith Heron.”

Small wonder.  Heron, a former schoolteacher for the Durham Catholic Separate School Board for seven years, left the kids behind in 2002 for the world of interior decorating and design and has never looked back.

Her company, Red Heron Essentials in Toronto, has projects across the country, big name clients – including just retired NHL star Eric Lindros – and it’s just starting to get its feet wet in the U.S. market…

Heron’s high flying…began while she was till teaching.  She found a brochure from Seneca College in her mailbox and decided to follow up, taking a colour theory course through its School of Continuing Education….

Heron, who says, “I feel colour viscerally” and whose wedding dress was ‘acid’ green silk because white doesn’t suit her, found the course in colour theory at Seneca heavy going. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life,” she says, even when she was doing concurrent degrees at Brock University in St. Catharines…

But she persevered, continued to teach and worked part time at Home Depot in Markham – she’d bought a house there and thought she might get a staff discount.  Three-and-a-half years later, she graduated from Seneca College…   

Seneca graduate credits college with turning his life around 
Paramjit Garcha, graduate of Seneca’s Opticianry program tells his success story in Business Edge in editions in Toronto, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Red Deer, and Vancouver – November 30, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 24 (Inspiration and hard work fuel success story: Optician credits wife, family and friends in helping establish a rewarding career)

…I am Paramjit Garcha. My friends call me Gary. I was born in Punjab, India... In my childhood, I was very fond of kabaddi (a physical game played in Punjab), bull-cart races and other similar rural sports.

On April 30, 1976, aged 17, I landed at Pearson International Airport, Toronto, along with my two siblings and parents. My older brother Rattan Garcha was already in Canada.

…Within a week we rented a place in Toronto. Soon, I started an odd job, and then another one. My first job, for a few months, was at a fibreglass factory that manufactured autoparts. After work, I used to complain that the itching from fibreglass exposure was so bad that I felt as if ants or termites were biting my body.

My second job was at Wimco Steel in Oakville, Ont., a steel-sheet cutting and shipping facility. Within a year, we moved to Hamilton. There, I first worked as a kitchen helper at the downtown Royal Connaught Hotel. Then, after learning welding, I started working as a welder at the National Steel Car.

The money was good, but the job simply was not to my expectations.

…With Grade 11 education from Punjab, I wanted to prosper and wanted to be some kind of professional. It was then that I came into contact with a family friend, Balbir Dhillon, who was an optician. This fellow used to go to work in a suit and a tie. So, I drew inspiration from Balbir to become an optician.

To take an optician's course I needed Grade 12 education with English, physics, chemistry and math as elective subjects. This I started by correspondence courses.

…After obtaining a Grade 12 diploma, I registered as a part-time student at the Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto for the optician's course. I started a job at an optical outfit as a student optician. So, I fondly started going to work in a suit and tie.

…I graduated from Seneca College in 1988. When I look back, I had come a long way from participating in and watching bull-cart races in Punjab to becoming a licensed professional optician and contact lens-fitter in Mississauga. I had the drive in me to succeed and so I did…

…I started working for local optical companies as a licensed optician. I started my own business, Jason Optical, at Westdale Mall in Mississauga in 1992. For the past 15 years I have served the eye-care needs of Westdale Mall shoppers with passion, integrity and pride…

Police Foundations Coordinator talks forensics        
Seneca’s Forensic Investigative Studies program cited as leader in the field in Blue Line Magazine – December 2007 (Seneca College forensic studies)

For the past three years, Seneca College, located just north of Toronto in King City, has been a leader in law enforcement education with its forensic investigative studies program.

…The program offers training to both career law enforcement members and graduates of police foundations and law and security administration programs.  It’s aimed at bringing a high degree of practical training to those interested in forensic identification, criminal investigation or private investigation careers, says police foundations coordinator Jeff Argo.

…It’s designed as a flexible learning program which takes into account the demands of shift work and full time employment.

Argo used his 27 years experience in police training to incorporate a crime scene house and the college’s 700 acre nature preserve into the curriculum.  Forensic anthropology students can experience the sights and smells associated with buried remains, for example, although Argo is quick to point out that health regulations prohibit human remains.  Instead, resin skeletons and buried pig carcasses are used…

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