Niagara College wins two Awards of Excellence from province


Published February 7, 2023 at 2:17 pm

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

Niagara College won two prestigious awards last night (Feb. 6) from the provincial Ministry of Colleges and Universities.

The two Awards of Excellence were in the the Equality of Opportunity category for creating opportunities for marginalized or underrepresented groups with their Accessibility Hub, as well as another for Everyday Heroes award for stepping up and making a difference through his leadership of their Feed The Community initiative, helmed by Chef Professor Olaf Mertens.

“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 college 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 the college.”

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

Since its launch in 2022, the college’s 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.

Created with  a $230,000 grant from the Virtual Learning Strategy, an eCampus Ontario-led initiative, the Niagara College 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 Feed the Community initiative was created in 2021 and sees students, faculty and staff from Niagara College’s School of Culinary Arts helps feed those in need in the community while boosting sustainability on campus by ensuring that no food goes to waste.

Led by Chef Professor Olaf Mertens, who was instrumental to organizing the initiative, the Feed The Community program relies on a team of volunteers to use top-quality products left from the kitchen labs and connect with shelters to transport meals to those who need them.

Niagara College Chef Professor Olaf Mertens accepted an Award of Excellence from Minister
of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop on Feb. 6.

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