Meet NC’s 2017 Award of Excellence recipients


President Dan Patterson stands with the College's 2017 Award of Excellence recipients (from left) Peter 'Dutch' VandenBerg, Monique Morin, and Joanne Bakker.

Three new members of the Niagara College community have been honoured as recipients of the College’s prestigious Awards of Excellence.

Presented at the College’s annual Niagara Day event, the awards not only celebrate achievements of faculty, support staff and administrative employees, but honour recipients with a highly coveted prize: a dedicated parking spot on campus.

InsideNC caught up with this year’s 2017 Award of Excellence recipients: Peter ‘Dutch’ VandenBerg (faculty), Monique Morin (support staff), and Joanne Bakker (administrative) and asked about their reaction to this award, and their time at NC, and more. Here is what they had to say:


Faculty Award of Excellence: Peter ‘Dutch’ VandenBerg

Coordinator and second year Television Production professor, Broadcasting, Radio, TV and Film – School of Media.


Award presentation info

The recipient of the Faculty Award of Excellence is a dynamic and enthusiastic professor, whose passion for their craft, students, and Niagara College is infectious.

This individual has served as a full-time faculty member and program coordinator, developed curriculum, and worked on a wide variety of special projects. This person demonstrates a passionate commitment to student success, regularly spending many extra hours with prospective and current students as well as graduates, while maintaining an open-door policy and providing support to faculty colleagues.

Students value and respect not only this individual’s wealth of experience and technical expertise, but also the genuine love for the craft and for teaching that this person demonstrates. Affectionately known as one of NC’s best recruiters, our colleague never turns down a chance to showcase the program on campus or at high schools, and has developed several experiential learning opportunities targeted to prospective students.

This person is a remarkable ambassador of Niagara College, consistently creating memorable and informative classroom and field experiences, up-to-date and engaging learning activities, and valuable industry and employer engagement opportunities for students. He is considerate, honest, dependable, and thoroughly devoted to motivating students to push beyond their comforts and excel to their utmost potential. 


How do you feel about receiving your Award of Excellence?

VandenBerg: I am incredibly humbled by this honor. I don’t think that I do anything special, I try to lead by example, I take great pride in guiding students to realize their potential – to be brutally honest – I love what I do and truly believe that teaching is a privilege. Helping students realize their dreams is an incredible opportunity – most days I think of myself as a locksmith – I hope to be able to unlock the potential that is inside each student that I have the honor of teaching. This award is meaningful because of the respect I have for all those that have won this in the past and how I admire their efforts and commitments to students. I don’t know that I deserve to be in the same company as them. I am appreciative to all those that support me and to those that nominated me – I am eternally grateful.


When did you begin working at NC

VandenBerg: I am a proud grad of the BRTF program, majoring in TV early 1990s.  I returned the following year to be a teaching assistant. My official teaching career: I started part-time in 2007, was hired full-time in 2009 and have been a coordinator for I think four years, maybe five …who’s counting.


What do you enjoy most about working at NC?

VandenBerg: Being inspired by our students. I really enjoy watching students learn new things and ultimately realizing their potential. Seeing them for the first time walk in during orientation and then three years later walk across the stage as aspiring media professionals. Their three-year journey is incredible; they mature, they learn, they dream and, most of all, they do … great things. We have great students and amazing grads!


Do you have a most memorable ‘NC moment’?

VandenBerg: I have many memorable moments – for that I am grateful. One of the top ones is how our students handled themselves during the IIHF Women’s World Championship hockey tournament broadcasts. We proudly involved all three streams of our program (Radio, TV and Film) as well as a few recent grads. Our students’ excellence was showcased to almost a million people around the world. One morning during the tournament, I shared how their broadcast highlights of the Canada-U.S.A. game the previous night were on that morning’s TSN Sportscenter and the looks on their faces is something that I will never forget. They knew they had done something special. Their efforts were validated in that moment – the slogan Applied Dreams couldn’t be more true. The pride they showed in their character and professionalism is what I will remember forever. I couldn’t be more proud of each one of them.


Do you have any major involvements/awards at NC

VandenBerg: I was very fortunate to have won the Niagara Champion award in 2013 for recruiting efforts. I believe it’s all of our responsibility to recruit and promote this great institution and our programs. I feel a tremendous sense of pride for NC as I am a proud grad and really believe in the success of our students and the incredible programs we offer. #bleedblue


Support Staff Award of Excellence: Monique Morin

Career consultant,  Career Services/Student Services


Award presentation info

The recipient of the Support Staff Award of Excellence is a warm, dependable, and reliable professional who epitomizes excellence in student service.

This individual exemplifies Niagara College’s pledge to provide unparalleled student satisfaction. Working with students, this person is compassionate, understanding, and patient. Empathy and an exemplary customer service standard are hallmarks of this colleague’s everyday work. 

The many supporters of this nomination each remarked upon this individual’s genuine compassion and empathy for both students and co-workers. Our colleague consistently makes time for students and staff who require professional assistance or simply a kind ear and sound advice. This person is always willing to teach and train colleagues and student staff, and is known as the glue that holds the department together.

This individual is also highly regarded for the ability to mentor students with kindness and understanding to help them identify and realize their life goals and dreams.

This individual’s work is important and impactful at Niagara College. While maintaining positive and productive relationships with colleagues and staff, she is a key link between the College and our local industries. A true brand ambassador for NC, she has developed strong relationships with hundreds of local employers. These linkages are critical to the College’s success, as industry fuels our program development, populates our Program Advisory Committees, and most importantly, sponsors work integrated learning opportunities for students and hires our graduates. This year’s recipient plays a critical role in all these College outcomes by engaging and liaising with employers in a professional and respected manner.

For over a decade, she has been a lead for the College’s major annual career fair. Not only does she work diligently to plan a significant and seamless event, she strives to ensure that the students who attend, the employers who come on campus, and her colleagues and volunteers who execute the event are considered and made to feel important.

Known personally as an exceptional baker, she is highly regarded by her colleagues for her impact on students.  Many students she works with remain in touch with her long after graduation; whether they had no concrete sense of education or career plans, or had full time careers in other sectors or countries, she has touched many lives and is rewarded by students who keep in contact to update her on their career paths and successes.


How do you feel about receiving your Award of Excellence?

Morin: I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my colleagues who were kind enough to nominate me and yes, it was extremely meaningful for me!


When did you begin working at NC? 

Morin: September 1985.

Previous positions include: Recruitment, Jobs Ontario consultant, co-op officer, French language services consultant/recruiter


What do you enjoy most about working at NC? 

Morin: That every day is different, I love helping students, presenting in class, having close/respectful relationships with so many staff and faculty.


Do you have a most memorable ‘NC moment’? 

Morin: Several years ago, I received a gift from a student who worked in our department and it was a mug, which still sits on my desk, and it reads “You make a difference – Thank you for all the ways you bring joy to the world” … brought me to tears!


Do you have any major involvements/ awards at NC?

Morin: I was instrumental in establishing the Wellness Committee with Valerie Grabove several years ago, chaired the STRD Committee for years and I am the lead on our annual All About Options Fair and have been for several years.


Administration Award of Excellence: Joanne Bakker

Associate dean, Workforce Development


Award presentation info:

The recipient of the Administration Award of Excellence is a leader known for building strong relationships and creating a supportive and encouraging team environment.

This individual began at Niagara College as an instructor in the late 1990s, and has since held various roles of increasing responsibility as a faculty member and subsequently as an administrator. As a supervisor, this person utilizes a coaching approach to allow staff members to grow, develop, and contribute to the department and to college-wide initiatives.

This individual is committed to the collaborative approach that defines the Niagara College culture. From course clustering projects to academic pathway development, through custom course delivery for international groups, and participating in the development of the Their Voices, Our Ears project, this person continuously strives to create and maintain positive connections and efficiencies between departments to the betterment of the student experience.

This administrator also embodies Niagara College’s commitment to student success. As an administrator within an academic unit, our colleague recognizes that student success stems from developing a community of caring and compassionate faculty members, and is well known and respected for her ability to foster a departmental culture that promotes and celebrates creative, innovative, and student-oriented solutions and teaching methods. 

Described by co-workers as rational, logical, compassionate and motivational, she is appreciated for her integrity and work ethic. She has a calm, focused and open demeanor, equally likely to engage in serious consideration of a problem as she is to enjoy a lighthearted conversation and a good joke.

She is known to frequently harken back to the phrase “what is in the best interest of students”; this dedication to student success is the compass she continually uses to guide her professional decisions. Never one to shy away from a new challenge or opportunity, this member of the Academic and Liberal Studies department is an advocate for students, respected for her willingness to consider diverse perspectives and to resolve student issues in a fair and equitable manner.

Having contributed so much to the Academic and Liberal Studies department over her career, and to her colleagues by serving as the chair of the associate Dean Development Group, she recently brought her student-focused leadership style to the Student Services division as the acting director.

She is a humble and genuine administrator who recognizes the work and contributions of others as a matter of course, and is now bringing her strong leadership skill set to her new role as associate dean, Workforce Development.


How do you feel about receiving your Award of Excellence?

Bakker: I am truly humbled and honoured to have been presented this award. However it is not an award that I have achieved on my own: over my years at the college I have worked alongside many wonderful, competent, and caring professionals who share the vision of equipping students to be the best that they can be so that they will find their place in this world.


Congrats to NC’s 2017 Award of Excellence recipients!

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