Lakehead University’s Orillia campus has had a strong community partnership with the County of Simcoe since it opened in 2006 – and it’s the reason its academic centre is called Simcoe Hall. For Simcoe County’s growing number of residents, Lakehead’s campus has allowed many local students to live at home while attending university, helping improve access to postsecondary education. Simcoe County, home to more than 475,000 people, is a popular destination for immigrants, with more than 100 mother tongues spoken in the region; both newcomers and lifelong Simcoe County residents have embraced Lakehead University and the opportunities it provides.
The university has contributed significantly to the region’s economy, with an estimated $40-million economic impact on the City of Orillia, Simcoe County and surrounding communities. The region has likewise been a strong supporter of the university, committing in 2009 to give $10 million to the Orillia campus by 2019 through annual funding. This support has helped lead to the university’s impressive growth of students — from more than 100 students in 2006 to almost 1,500 in 2016; growth of academic programs, including those in partnership with Georgian College; as well as graduate level programs, international student growth, and the expansion of research activities.