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University of Ontario Institute of Technology celebrates its first semester

OSHAWA, Ont. - After only its first semester, Canada's newest university is already making its mark as one of the country's most technologically advanced and student-focused post-secondary institutions. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa, Ont., is well on its way to becoming one of Canada's leading centres of learning and research. "Whether it's the programs or the people or the services or the buildings, we've delivered," says Dr. Gary Polonsky, president and vice-chancellor of the university. "Our students are delighted."

The dropout rate has been "astonishingly" low, says Dr. Polonsky. "One of our most profound achievements," he adds, "is to have gotten off to such a great start with happy students. In fact, the very legislation that created UOIT in June 2002 commits UOIT to the success of each individual student - and we take that trust very seriously".

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology's inaugural class currently numbers 939 students. The university played a significant role in accommodating Ontario's double-cohort, high school graduating class in 2003. The majority of students in the first class are from the GTA and Durham Region, with additional national and international recruitment efforts planned.

UOIT's high student retention rate is a reflection of its first-rate faculty and staff. In the tough competition for talent, the university has single-mindedly pursued top professors who combine four key qualities: a keen interest in students, exceptional teaching skills, brilliant research abilities, and a mastery of technology.

Students are excited, says Dr. Polonsky, by UOIT's distinction as Ontario's first laptop-based university, its state-of-the-art buildings, and the skill professors have in incorporating technology into the classroom to enhance active, team-based, project-based learning. UOIT's mission hinges on offering teaching, research and service at the highest level of excellence - also spelled out in Bill 109. "All of our schools," says Dr. Polonsky, "offer high-end, research-intensive market-driven, career-oriented professional programs that lead to great careers."

To enhance learning, teaching is performed exclusively by experienced faculty, not teaching assistants. In the campus REACH office, eight full-time professionals are available to help students with special needs maximize their learning potential.

But at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, achieving student success goes beyond the classroom. UOIT is also working to create a beautiful campus and a vibrant student community, with many clubs, teams, and social activities. The university offers top-flight athletic facilities, which will be expanded over the next two years. A new campus tennis facility opened this fall, with clay courts and a bubble for year-round play. UOIT's phased student residence overlooks a river valley, with its two-person suites featuring a private bedroom for each student, as well as a bathroom, kitchenette and sitting area.

In the coming months, UOIT will continue to build on the standard of excellence it has already established, says Dr. Polonsky. In the fall of 2004, the university plans to offer six entirely new programs, including Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Energy Systems Engineering, Bachelor of Health Science (Honours) in Medical Laboratory Science, and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechanical Engineering. About 1,250 first-year students are expected next fall, and the university plans to hire more than 20 new faculty. It will complete its first three buildings by fall 2004, including a new library. Two additional academic buildings are slated to open in 2005, as is a twin-pad arena, largely funded by the City of Oshawa. An academic and service building is planned for 2006. The attractive grounds will feature connected interior and exterior walkways, and a reflecting pond that can be used as a skating rink in winter.

UOIT's short history is already marked by tremendous accomplishment. Its founding team worked seven days a week for two years to establish the university, and visited some of the finest institutions across Canada and the U.S. "to poach the best practices that are out there," says Dr. Polonsky. "I acknowledge the fantastic amount of work that was done by fantastic people in government, in the community and on campus - and I will be grateful to them for all time."

About the University of Ontario Institute of Technology

As Canada's newest university, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology provides a unique combination of academic knowledge, vibrant student life, leading-edge research and hands-on skills. The university offers career-focused degree undergraduate programs and is developing leading-edge research and graduate programs. Sharing selected services with Durham College, the university welcomed its first students this September. To find out more, visit www.uoit.ca, or call 1.866.844.8648.


About Ontario Tech University
Ontario Tech University advances the discovery and application of knowledge through a technology-enriched learning environment and the delivery of innovative market-driven programs responsive to the needs of students and industry. With more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in more than 90 programs, the university promotes social engagement, fosters critical thinking and integrates outcomes-based learning experiences inside and outside the classroom. The university's commitment to accelerating economic growth and social innovation is realized through faculty research collaborations with leading organizations such as Ontario Power Generation, IBM, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Durham Regional Police Service. To find out more, visit ontariotechu.ca.


Media contact
John Schofield
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
905.721.3111, ext. 2162
john.schofield@uoit.ca