Georgian College presented longtime supporter Lou Biffis with the Board of Governors’ Honorary Diploma.

The honour is presented to a recipient who has demonstrated excellence in their profession or industry and who has made a major contribution to an academic program at Georgian College through a significant contribution of expertise, influence and personal time.

“Lou embodies all the criteria,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College president and CEO. “He is a true advocate of our students and our hospitality, tourism and recreation programs. We are pleased to recognize his contributions to the college and his exceptional leadership and commitment to the hospitality industry.”

Biffis, Nottawasaga Inn Resort and Conference Centre and Briar Hill Homes president, is a true entrepreneur who grew a 40-room hotel into a world-class, 269-room resort and convention complex. He is a recipient of the region’s Industry Recognition Award from the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association (OHRMA). In 2006, Biffis was a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, as one of three nominees in the hospitality and tourism category.

For more than 10 years, Biffis and his organization have played a principle role in the Simcoe Hospitality Awards Gala, an annual event organized by OHRMA and Georgian College hospitality, tourism and recreation. The gala strengthens the profile of the hospitality community, recognizes key industry contributors and generates scholarship funds for Georgian hospitality students. The gala has raised more than $60,000 in scholarships that have benefited more than 50 Georgian students.

A dedicated community builder, he and his Nottawasaga Foundation have raised more than $39 million for countless charities since 2001.

Lou is a champion for experiential learning. He routinely hires co-op students within the Nottawasaga Inn Resort and Conference Centre. Since 2011, the centre has placed more than 300 students. The Nottawasaga has also employed several Georgian graduates. Currently, four graduates hold positions in supervisory or management positions within his organization.

“Offering our students meaningful, experiential learning opportunities is vital to their educational experience and future success, and we couldn’t do that without supportive employers like Lou,” said West-Moynes. “We are deeply appreciative that he sees the value in offering students the opportunity to learn firsthand about what goes into the daily operation of a well-respected resort and conference centre such as the Nottawasaga.”

Photo: Lou Biffis (seated) receives an honorary diploma from Don Gordon, board of governors vice-chair, and MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College president and CEO, during the Barrie campus convocation ceremonies on June 19.