student engaged in Virtual LearningThe University of Windsor will receive $1.5 million in grants through the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ Virtual Learning Strategy.

Projects to promote digital learning receive provincial support

The University of Windsor has been awarded almost $1.5 million for 19 projects under the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ new Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) grants.

The province is investing $50 million in the program to drive growth in online and hybrid learning across the province. Facilitated through eCampus Ontario, the new strategy is built on the principles of collaborative, learner-driven, and digital-by-design education. A total of 394 projects aimed at creating digital content, building digital capacity, supporting digital delivery, and enhancing digital fluency were funded across colleges and universities.

All final products of these projects will be openly licensed and available for re-use or adaptation in Ontario through the eCampus Ontario open library.

“This means that we don’t benefit just from what is created here at UWindsor, but from everything that is created across all projects in the province,” says Nick Baker, director of the Office of Open Learning.

Baker notes that despite a very short deadline to turn around applications, and the ongoing pandemic, the campus showed significant interest in exploring the potential of virtual learning through the VLS funding, with more than 50 applications submitted.

“As folks have settled into online teaching and learning, we’re seeing a lot of instructors who are significantly re-thinking their approaches to teaching in ways that start to address gaps made evident by the pandemic,” adds learning specialist Ashlyne O’Neil.

Among these gaps is equitable access to resources, as well as accessibility, diversity, and inclusion within all aspects of higher education. A key goal of the Virtual Learning Strategy was to facilitate collaboration across institutions and sectors, and UWindsor is a partner institution on 13 additional projects across the province, many of which aim to make sector-wide change in the provision of education.

The Office of Open Learning plans a series of articles in DailyNews in coming weeks featuring the successful projects, their collaborators, and the work these teams will contribute in the context of these new ways of learning and teaching. Articles will highlight the innovative and accessible work being done across campus in partnership with institutions across the province. More information about these projects can be found on the OOL website or by contacting

OOL also holds a monthly Community of Practice, open to the whole campus community, at which many of the grant recipients have been sharing highlights of their work.

Applied Leadership Program participantsThe Municipality of Leamington will provide students in the Applied Leadership Program with experience addressing real-world challenges in a partnership with Continuing Education beginning this fall.

Continuing Education partnering with Leamington in applied leadership program

The Municipality of Leamington will provide students in the Applied Leadership Program with experience addressing real-world challenges in a partnership with Continuing Education beginning this fall.

The program offers participants the opportunity to make professional connections, and to hone their leadership and soft skills. Experienced instructors will give its students the opportunity to practise hands-on tactics and acquire the necessary skills to lead resilient teams to successful outcomes, culminating in a capstone project. Leamington will provide feedback on the students’ approaches and solutions.

“We are proud to partner with the University of Windsor to bring local level challenges, techniques, and successes to the Applied Leadership Program,” said Peter Neufeld, chief administrative officer for the Municipality of Leamington. “This partnership will also introduce participants to career opportunities within the municipal sector and showcase the Municipality of Leamington as a potential employer.”

Jennie Atkins, executive director of UWindsor Continuing Education, said she is “thrilled” to have Leamington as an industry partner.

“Their partnership will provide program participants with valuable feedback and real-case scenarios that are crucial to the growth and learning of potential employees and future leaders,” she said.

The program is online and open for registration to current and aspiring managers, supervisors, and industry leaders. The eight half-day modules take place on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Oct. 15 to Dec. 3.

Students, staff, and alumni are eligible for a discount on registration fees. Email for the code.

Find more information about the Applied Leadership Program on its website.

Marcus DroverChemist Marcus Drover will research the creation of new and useful molecules from petroleum industry by-products.

Award to support chemist’s research into petroleum by-products

Winning an award from the American Chemistry Society Petroleum Research Fund will allow UWindsor researcher Marcus Drover and his team to head in a new direction: exploring the creation of new and useful molecules out of petroleum industry by-products.

Since 1953, the Petroleum Research Fund, managed by the American Chemical Society, has supported fundamental research directly related to petroleum or fossil fuels at academic institutions.

Funded proposals are for fundamental research in the petroleum field, defined as petroleum, natural gas, coal, shale, tar sands, and like materials. This award provides about $140,000 over a period of two years.

An assistant professor and inorganic chemist, Dr. Drover is the 2020 John C. Polanyi Prize Winner in Chemistry. His proposal will enable his team to target the catalytic fluorination of hydrocarbons using base metal catalysis. Such hydrocarbons comprise products refined from oil.

This work involves the preparation, characterization, and study of metal-fluorine containing fragments that display unique reactivity patterns.

“The exciting part of this fund is that it is all about supporting a research stream,” says Drover. “The question we are trying to answer here is how to instill value into petroleum industry by-products.”

Fluorine is a useful element that can be incorporated into molecules to give valuable properties, but reagents such as elemental fluorine are highly reactive and show poor selectivity.

“Fluorine plays a key role in materials chemistry where fluorinated-polymer components are commonly employed in fuel and solar cell technologies, for example,” says Drover.

“Fluorine is also pervasive in the medicinal, agrochemical, and pharmaceutical sectors with approximately 20 to 25 per cent of all commercial drugs containing at least one fluorine atom ­— there are many directions this project could take.”

Drover says the University of Windsor already has the state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure required.

“This fresh venture for our team will help contribute to the growing area of fluorination, expanding the fluorine reagent toolbox and providing a quality learning experience for our students,” he says.

“I am very grateful to the grant reviewers and administrators, and I am excited to see how this project will unfold.”