May 12, 2009

Chers collègues/Dear colleagues/Boozhoo/Aanii/Kwe kwe,

As I have indicated to many of you in my meetings with departments so far, my immediate priorities for my first weeks as President include : 1) getting to know the university community by meeting with departments (meetings with 20 departments held so far); 2) fostering greater internal communications (eg through this blog); 3) initiating the selection process for permanent appointments for the positions of VP Academics (three selection committees have been established and will begin to meet during the last week of May); and 4) stepping up our efforts to get us as close as possible to our enrolment targets for September.

In addition to measures already underway to boost our enrolment for the coming years, I have had the opportunity to meet with applicants from Sudbury and initiated a tour of the communities we serve outside Sudbury. Last week, I travelled to Timmins and New Liskeard to hold four information sessions with applicants for September 2009 and their parents, and two sessions with guidance counsellors, secondary school principals and school board representatives from communities along highway 11.

I have also met with the Acting President of Northern College, Fred Gibbons, and the CEO of the Timmins Hospital, Laurentian alumnus Esko Vanio, to explore how, as a university, we could increase the participation rate in university studies for the highway 11 communities, increase the proportion of university-bound students selecting Laurentian and enhance our outreach to First Nations. While we are the number one choice for university studies from applicants living in communities along highway 11, we only attract 23% of applicants and 58% of applicants choose a university other than Laurentian, Nipissing, Algoma or Hearst. Fred Gibbons expressed a strong interest in expanding the existing collaborative programming in nursing perhaps in other communities, initiating undergraduate and graduate programs in business administration in Timmins and developing more articulation agreements with Northern College. A need in social work has also been identified but talks are already well advanced between Northern College and Algoma University in this regard.

Après m’être joint à la retraite annuelle du conseil d’administration de l’École de médecine du nord de l’Ontario à Dryden, je suis à nouveau sur la route cette semaine, plus précisément à North Bay et Barrie, où j’animerai cinq sessions avec les étudiants ayant fait une demande d’admission pour la Laurentienne en septembre, ainsi qu’avec le personnel des écoles secondaires de Nipissing, Parry Sound, Simcoe et Muskoka. Je ferai également un détour vers Toronto pour une rencontre avec nos anciens demeurant dans cette région et pour rencontrer le ministre Michael Gravelle. Je serai également à Sault Ste Marie pour l’ouverture des 16e Jeux franco-ontariens organisés par la FESFO. J’aurai également l’occasion de rencontrer nos partenaires du collège Georgian et de rencontrer des représentants de nos étudiants de Barrie. Nous accueillerons également cette semaine sur le campus la sous-ministre de la Formation, des Collèges et des Universités, Deborah Newman (mon ancienne sous-ministre).

Mes rencontres avec nos futurs étudiants et leurs parents m’ont permis de mettre en valeur les histoires à succès que je découvre durant mes rencontres avec les divers départements sur le campus. Des anciens qui demeurent sur place et ont connu du succès dans leur carrière me présentent à chaque session. Je suis choyé d’être si bien entouré par une équipe extrêmement dynamique et compétente issue des affaires étudiantes, de l’aide financière, des relations avec les anciens, des résidences et du bureau de liaison.

The conversations with school and board staff were very informative. We have heard directly how we could improve our recruitment efforts, for example by : hiring more permanent liaison staff (who could establish longer term partnerships, visit schools more frequently without necessarily having to promote Laurentian per se, arrange more targeted activities on campus for future applicants and teachers); renewing these “town hall meetings” with the President before the application period and ensuring that they are well advertised; visiting schools at the end of November to help students fill their applications; providing a response before the holidays as some other universities do (will full information on residences and bursaries); boosting bursaries; offering transportation back home on a regular basis at a reasonable cost; providing more places in residences on campus (to mitigate concerns about lack of accommodation in Sudbury) with some earmarked for First Nation families; pursuing advancement placement opportunities with secondary schools, leveraging the new High Skills Majors where feasible.

Many of you have articulated similar suggestions to me since my arrival. These ideas will help us refine our recruitment strategies for the upcoming application period, within resources available.

As many of you have heard me say, increasing our enrolment should not become an end in itself. (We have been the fourth fastest growing university in Ontario since 2000, with a 50% increase in enrolment). At the end of the day, what matters the most is the quality of our programs and of the student experience. Each of us has a role to play in student recruitment and retention. We are all ambassadors of the University and our actions and words speak louder than any paid advertising.

I welcome comments and questions on the topics related above, or any other matter that may be of concern to you. My email is: dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca

 

Merci/Thank you/Miigwech

 

Dominic Giroux

 

p.s. If you want to find more about me, you can access an in-depth interview I granted to TFO in March as well as a shorter interview given in December. These interviews were conducted in French.