Visual arts, technology at Niagara College get $1M boost

The Welland Tribune

Marilyn I. Walker Centre of Excellence opens at Welland campus

Visual arts and technology programs at Niagara College has received a $1-million gift from the estate of a Niagara philanthropist.

On Tuesday, the college officially opened the Marilyn I. Walker Centre of Excellence at its Welland campus.

Through her estate, Walker — known for her passion for the arts and for the Niagara community before her death in 2015 — donated $1 million to the college’s visual arts and technology areas. Walker’s vision was to create a hub of learning, innovation and creativity at the college, building on strengths of its existing program base, said a news release from the school.

“We are tremendously grateful to the late Marilyn Walker for her generous gift which is an exciting investment in the future of visual arts and technology at our college,” said president Dan Patterson who, along with his partner Saundra, was a friend of Walker.

The Marilyn I. Walker Centre of Excellence in Visual Arts and Technology includes several upgrades and renovations to the school of media studies, as well as new resources and equipment.

A newly renovated space on the third floor of the Simcoe building, complete with a state-of-the-art video wall, is the first stage of a four-phase project for the new centre.

Future phases will include enhancement of four other classrooms; a resource room that will feature new equipment such as printers, 3D printers and a die-cutting machine; an upgraded client project room between two game design classrooms; new photographic equipment to support the graphic design program; and a classic studio with screen-printing equipment and more.

Funds will also be allocated to enhancements in the Voyageur wing for students in media programs.

In addition to establishing the new centre, $100,000 from the gift was endowed to provide an annual bursary to a student in their final year of study in one of the college’s visual art or technology programs, such as art and design foundation, graphic design, photography or game development.

As well, $150,000 will support staffing for the centre.

In the past, the Walkers have contributed to student success at the college by supporting scholarships and other fundraising events. In 2015, Walker Industries and the Walker family announced a $1.2-million contribution to the college’s Achieving Dreams Campaign, which supported its Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.