Lakehead University awarded $210,794 from ONCAT to support postsecondary students to overcome pandemic learning challenges

June 9, 2023 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.   

The Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT) has awarded over $560,000 to eight postsecondary institutions in Ontario to develop programs and supports for students impacted by the pandemic. 

These projects include summer courses to help students recover pandemic-related academic gaps, coaching and mentorship programs to help students transition to and adjust to postsecondary studies, and specialized supports for Indigenous learners, mature students, and prospective students from historically unrepresented groups. 

All are designed to support the successful experience of students whose academic journeys have been disrupted over the last few years. 

“Postsecondary institutions are still navigating the impacts of the pandemic on the sector, and it is crucial for them to be able to adapt to their students’ ever-changing needs,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. 

“Through this funding provided by ONCAT, these eight institutions have created strategies to support students affected by the pandemic so they can reach their full academic potential.” 

Led by Dr. Leigh Potvin and Dr. Julie Rosenthal from Lakehead’s School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, $98,594 has been awarded for a project to enhance pathway-transfer for Indigenous students in the North with an interest and/or career goals in outdoor recreation, parks and/or tourism. 

Participating institutions/partners include Collège Boréal, Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, Destination Northern Ontario, and Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (Sand Point First Nation). 

“The results of this project will lead to opportunities for students to flow between and amongst partner institutions and also to choose from a robust set of mechanisms to enter post-secondary institutions,” said Dr. Potvin.   

Another project led by Andrea Tarsitano, Vice-Provost (Students) and Registrar, and Aimee Jaun, Associate Vice-Provost (Students), has been awarded $35,750 to enhance the transition of transfer and mature students to university. A team from both Lakehead campuses will work collaboratively with internal and external partners to develop a seminar course to help students develop awareness of university supports and academic expectations. 

“The pandemic continues to impact students as they move along their academic pathways and we need to ensure that they are set up for success on their journey,” said Dr. Adrienne Galway, Executive Director at ONCAT. 

“These funding initiatives give students a strong foundation to build upon, especially those experiencing ongoing barriers to postsecondary access exacerbated by the pandemic.” 

Through the Seamless Transfer Program, a third project being led by Tarsitano and Jaun has received $76,450 for the development of a mature student orientation leaders’ model to increase capacity internally by creating a sustainable, broad support network of mentors and leaders. 

Working collaboratively with Confederation College, this project will allow for early engagement in building awareness and offering of targeted supports for mature and transfer students in addition to students who face ongoing barriers. 

“Once completed, both these projects will result in tangible supports for students who are experiencing academic life after a hiatus or who are new to the university context,” said Tarsitano. 

“As a student-centred university, Lakehead recognizes the global pandemic has negatively impacted students in many ways, especially mature and transfer students,” said Dr. Michel S. Beaulieu, Associate Vice-Provost (Academic). 

“ONCAT’s support of these projects advances Lakehead University’s commitment to providing a transformative university experience that facilitates achievement and success of our unique learners,” said Dr. David Barnett, Provost and Vice-President (Academic). 







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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit