An Updated University-Wide Academic Plan

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

In the past two years, our total sponsored research income per full-time faculty member has gone up by 45%.  After a drop of 1,010 undergraduate students on the Sudbury campus between 2006 and 2008, we have achieved an overall record-level of enrolment of 9,246 full-time and part-time students in 2010, while increasing the average entry grade in 2009 and again in 2010.  International enrolment went up by 53%.  Our retention rate is improving.  We continue to have among the best post-graduation employment rates in the province.  Laurentian is the Canadian university which had the biggest jump in this year’s university rankings published by Maclean’s.  The magazine identified Laurentian as one of three Canadian universities “on the radar”.

To be even more successful as a university, we need to continue building a positive organizational climate which fosters strong faculty and staff engagement. But we also need sound planning which reinforces our internal focus and alignment.

In May 2010, the Provost challenged the Faculties/Library to develop their own Academic Plans to advance the university’s four key goals while being informed by four “purpose” statements where the University was seen to be academically strong (building healthy communities, clean water now and forever, resource development for an evolving world, educating for our future).

I am pleased to report that Faculties/Library have completed this important task. Now that these Faculty/Library-based Academic Plans are in place, they will provide the Deans/University Librarian with guidance regarding the future academic activity, budgets, student supports and learning needs within each Faculty/Library.

The next step was for ACAPLAN to develop a university-wide Academic Plan for presentation to Senate at the February 8th meeting.  I am pleased that for the first time in 10 years, Senate approved an update to the university’s Academic Plan.  This document was developed at ACAPLAN, taking into account the content of the Academic Plans from the Faculties/Library with input from the Comité des programmes en français (CPF).  Both ACAPLAN and CPF had endorsed the proposed Academic Plan.

Several broad academic priorities have emerged: Support for French-language programs and the bilingual mandate of Laurentian University, Aboriginal programming, Interdisciplinarity and Academic Excellence.

The university’s four-page Academic Plan will inform the 2011-2012 operating budget as well as the 2012-2017 strategic plan.

Finally, I would like to thank the 100 students, faculty and staff members who attended the town-hall meeting in the Governors’ Lounge on January 19th.  In my next blog posting, I will address the most common questions I have received in the past few weeks related to the 2011-2012 operating budget.

As usual, I welcome comments and questions on the topics discussed in my blog postings, or any other matter that may be of concern to you. My email is:

You can also join the 1,500 people who follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Merci/Thank you/Miigwech


Engaged Students, Faculty and Staff

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

Laurentian University has all the assets to be recognized in the future as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, as Georgian College, George Brown College, Kwantlen University College, the University of Toronto, McGill University and Simon Fraser University have been in the past decade.

As a sector, we are measured on numerous indicators, yet we have no data on the experiences of faculty and staff members on areas where collectively we do well as an organization and where we could improve.  We collectively need measurable information to guide action planning.  It’s essential to prioritize and focus efforts to bring about the most significant and positive change towards the goal of becoming one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

To enable this priority-setting, faculty and staff members will be invited to complete a confidential on-line questionnaire in May.  Results will be released in September and the survey will be administered again every two years to measure progress over time.  The outcome of the questionnaire will inform the 2011-2012 performance goals of the university’s Leadership Group and of other supervisors, but most importantly will inform authentic conversations at the department level.

I would like to thank the 150 faculty and staff members who attended one of the two Have Your Say 2011: Towards Organizational Excellence town-hall meetings held on February 3rd and 4th at the Fraser auditorium. We received excellent and constructive feedback and questions regarding next steps for the above-mentioned initiative.

Faculty and staff union/associations have been invited to join an Advisory Committee, which has already met twice to review and make adjustments to the proposed process and review the top bids received in order to select an external consultant to collect the data in confidence and report back to the university community.  Over the coming weeks, this Advisory Committee will review the questionnaire and provide advice on ways to maximize the success of this initiative.

While voluntary, your participation will make a difference.  We must become the change we want to see.

There is much to build on, including a very strong track record as a university in attracting and retaining talent.  We have talented and creative staff.  We have innovative faculty.  We have engaged leaders who care about the university.  We need to make sure that our energies are channeled and focused.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this initiative, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Anne-Marie Mawhiney at or extension 3221.  We are in the process of setting up an intranet link so that all employees can view the presentation that was used in the town hall meetings last week.  Another session is being planned for Barrie soon.

Laurentian students never cease to amaze me with their leadership and enthusiasm.

Just in the past two weeks, I was able to witness their strong level of engagement on a daily basis including at the:

  • 36th Annual SPAD Hockey Tournament organized by students from the School of Sports Administration (note that the Laurentian staff team won 3-2 vs the faculty team this year);
  • First event of the newly-created Saudi Club on the Sudbury campus;
  • 8th Annual SGA Charity Ball, with profits going to the Live-In for Literacy (kudos to Hannah Thompson and Sarah Williams for raising over $5,430 to build school libraries in India)
  • 2nd Annual Road to Riches Accounting Challenge organized by the Laurentian University Accounting Association and attended by 36 current and prospective students and over 20 Laurentian alumni who are now Chartered Accountants or C.A. candidates (kudos in particular to alumna Emily Blimkie from Collins Barrow and Valorie Leonard from the School of Commerce for their impressive efforts);
  • Last basketball home game for the Lady Vees and Voyageurs (kudos to graduating seniors Katie Goggins and Lisa Furchner who were honoured on Saturday);
  • Chinese New Year Party organized by the Laurentian University Chinese Student and Scholar Association;
  • 8th Annual Airbandz for Cancer for which students raised $17,000 this year for a total of $102,000 over the past eight years for the Northern Ontario Cancer Research Foundation (four fellow judges and I had the thought task of picking the winners).

Students give particularly high marks to Laurentian for its class size, the level of interaction with faculty, the availability of faculty outside class, the sense of personal security and safety on campus and the physical fitness, sports and recreational facilities.  What strikes me though when I speak with faculty and staff members – especially those who go beyond the call of duty to attend events such as those listed above – is that they are energized by the students’ energy and aspiration to do always do better, and in turn this gives faculty and staff the boost to be even better themselves at what they do.  I know that’s why so many faculty and staff members love what they do at Laurentian, and I am certainly one of them!

As usual, I welcome comments and questions on the topics discussed in my blog postings, or any other matter that may be of concern to you. My email is:

You can also join the 1,500 people who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as well as find pictures of the above noted events.

Merci/Thank you/Miigwech