Lakehead University’s Report to the Community celebrates important people, achievements

Photo of two male graduates being interviewed.

Matt Olinski, middle, a Lakehead University Civil Engineering graduate, discusses the Steel Bridge Team's success in 2018 with teammate Mack Barber, left, and master of ceremonies Jocelyn Bel.

November 28, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON

The theme of Lakehead University’s 2017/2018 Report to the Community was Engage. Explore. Excel.

Lakehead University PhD student Jocelyn Bel was the master of ceremonies for the annual luncheon at the Valhalla Inn on November 28, which featured interviews with some of the exceptional people who have made a major impact on the university.

Guests included Matt Olinski and Mack Barber, two recent graduates of Lakehead’s Civil Engineering program who were on the University’s award-winning Steel Bridge Team this year, and Lakehead’s Dr. Matt Tocheri, Canada Research Chair in Human Origins and associate professor in Anthropology at Lakehead University.  

Olinski and Barber described how exciting it was for the team to place first in the AISC/ASCE regional competition in Iowa City in April and 10th in the AISC/ASCE national competition in Illinois in May.

They spent 2,000 hours over eight months to meticulously design, optimize, manufacture and practice assembling the 18-foot-long model bridge, which could hold more than 2,500 lbs.

Dr. Tocheri talked about the extinct ‘hobbits’ of human evolution (Homo floresiensis) from the Indonesian island of Flores.

Using a complete replica of the skeleton of Homo floresiensis, created by a 3D printer located in his new Human Origins Laboratory in Lakehead University’s CASES building, he demonstrated the similarities and differences with the skeleton of modern humans (Homo sapiens).

Audience members were able to touch and examine the 3D-printed replica ‘hobbit’ bones while Dr. Tocheri was speaking.

The Report to the Community was a chance to celebrate the University’s many successes, including the incredible financial impact that Lakehead has on the province.  

Lakehead University adds approximately $1.4 billion per year to Ontario’s gross domestic product. The annual economic impact of the University’s Thunder Bay campus on the province was $1.3 billion, while its Orillia campus contributed $122.7 million. Lakehead University is responsible for 6,277 full-time equivalent jobs.

“The Report to the Community is a chance to celebrate the year’s successes and connect with the communities within Northwestern Ontario and Simcoe County,” said Ross Murray, Q.C., Chair of Lakehead University’s Board of Governors.

Dr. Moira McPherson, Lakehead University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, highlighted the new strategic plan and the University’s exceptional faculty, staff and students, and thanked everyone who has helped the University achieve greatness. She also acknowledged how Lakehead is helping students succeed in a fast-paced, competitive world.

“These last 12 months have been punctuated with many successes and celebrations,” Dr. McPherson said. “Today was an opportunity to meet some of the people who learn, teach, and advance research, scholarly and creative work at Lakehead—each empowering themselves and our learners to become the next generation of leaders by sharing their passion for discovery and learning.”

Visit to view Lakehead University’s Report to the Community website.

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Lakehead University has approximately 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. Maclean’s 2019 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities and in 2018 Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the fourth consecutive year. Visit