Successful launch. Newsworthy research. Prestigious scholarships. First LU Soapbox.

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

Strategic Plan Launch:

After much consultation and planning, prepping and polishing, we were able to present our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan in the official Sudbury launch on February 6th.

An exciting event held in Alumni Hall, the launch drew a great crowd of stakeholders and supporters from our extended Laurentian family and from various groups in the broader community.  Among the guests who spoke at the launch was the former chair of the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation and CEO of Science North, Guy Labine.   He talked about the importance of Laurentian’s collaborations and partnerships with other agencies and institutions, and about this university’s role as an innovator and economic driver in the community.

We were thrilled to also include 1st year student Emilie Thibault in our official launch.  She “brought it home” from the student perspective and shared her enthusiasm with the audience.  She spoke of the excitement and the promise of Laurentian’s aspirations for the future, and noted that the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan focuses on maximizing the student experience.  Well-done, Emilie!

As you have read in earlier blog posts on this issue, our Strategic Plan clearly sets out our purpose, values and aspirations for the next five years.  Not only that, but it articulates forty desired outcomes that we will realize by 2017.  Each of these outcomes has a champion, here at Laurentian, and each of the champions is looking to recruit team members to propel us forward to 2017.  If you haven’t already signed up with a team, please look through the list, and think about the aspirations and the role you can play in the implementation of the Strategic Plan.  It’s a plan that we call “Bold Ambitious and Driven.”  It is also achievable, with a team like ours.

Aspirations & champions


Research Week 2012:  February 3rd—10th

Research Week presented once again this year a tremendous opportunity for our faculty and graduate students to showcase their work for all of us within the university and throughout the broader community.  The work that is being pursued at Laurentian is fascinating, and crosses many disciplines.  It is inspiring to consider how much our researchers are pushing the boundaries of knowledge in their respective fields.

Kudos to the Director of Research, Dr. Yves Alarie and to the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. David Lesbarrères, and of course to our Vice-President for Francophone Affairs, Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Patrice Sawyer for organizing and executing a very busy week of events.

The week started with the presentation of several prestigious research awards to four of our graduate students, as follows:

Ms. Twinkle Masilamani:  NSERC Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – 3 years
PhD in Biomolecular Sciences
$150,000 over 3 years

Ms.  Indeewari Kalhari Silva Lindamulage:  Ontario Trillium Scholarship
PhD in Biomolecular Sciences
$40,000 per year for 4 years.

Ms. Kirsten McMillan:  Ontario Trillium Scholarship
PhD in Boreal Ecology
$40,000 per year for 4 years

M. Pierre Echaubard:  Bourse d’études supérieures de l’Ontario (BESO) /Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program (OGS)
PhD in Boreal Ecology
$15,000 three terms

My sincere congratulations to the recipients of these prestigious awards.  Their efforts in these key areas of endeavour are contributing to the substantial growth in Laurentian University’s research profile.

Research Week also included a graduate symposium that allowed cross-disciplinary discussion of various research projects, and gave audiences a chance to hear detailed descriptions from their colleagues.

The Week was launched with a fascinating presentation by Greg Lakanen, one of the members of our renowned NASA Lunabotics Mechanical Engineering team.  Greg graduated from the program last year, and is now pursuing post-graduate studies under the supervision of Dr. Markus Timusk. Greg presented some of the engineering and design research that led to the development of “our” record setting robot.  Here’s a link to Greg’s Powerpoint presentation: Lunabot Design for 2012 Research Week

We also had the chance to hear a thought-provoking presentation from Dr. Carol Kauppi, winner of Laurentian’s 2011 Research Excellence Award.  She has been leading a multi-year research project on Poverty, Migration and Homelessness that gathers data at “street level,” to support research on some of our society’s most at-risk populations.  Dr. Kauppi’s presentation can be viewed here.

For those who were not able to attend any of the Research Week events, you can view a news report that was aired after the “Lightning Talks” event, held Wednesday February 8th.  As you will see, Laurentian University faculty shone a bright light – briefly – on the work they’re doing.  And in under 60 seconds!

You can also view the opening and closing ceremonies for Research Week at the weblinks below:

Title: 2012 Research Week Opening Ceremony

Date: 03 February 2012

Time: 11:30 AM EST

Duration: 1:07:44

Title: 2012 Research Week Closing Ceremony (Part 1)

Date: 10 February 2012

Time: 9:00 AM EST

Duration: 45:00

Title: 2012 Research Week  Closing Ceremony (Part 2)

Date: 10 February 2012

Time: 10:30 AM EST

Duration: 01:15:00

Again, my thanks and sincere congratulations to all who have supported Research Week and all who pursue excellence in their particular areas of scholarship every week of the year.  Your dedication and commitment raise the bar for all of us.

Reminder:  Next Soapbox February 23rd

One of our most important aspirations as a university is to be recognized for our positive organizational culture — and yes, that is clearly stated in our new Strategic Plan!

I take very seriously the obligation to enlist all managers, staff and faculty in cultivating an organization that is always proactive, student-focused and effective.  That’s one of the reasons we’ve launched the “Soapbox” series of talks.  It’s an opportunity for all of our faculty and staff, in every department, to come and find out about important university initiatives and on-going projects.  More important, I believe, it gives everyone an opportunity to share views or ask questions of me and of other members of the leadership group.

The first session was held on January 26th and I was thrilled to see over 130 colleagues in attendance.  People asked questions about “big-picture” issues and also about day-to-day operations – everything from the Barrie campus project, Research Week, an access road on the Sudbury campus, to the need for staff lunch and lounge areas.

Another issue that came up was excess classroom space, particularly those rooms that are not especially well-suited to learners.  We are looking into ways of refining our scheduling so that we might actually free up some classrooms for other dedicated uses. One of the results identified in the Strategic Plan is to have enhanced gathering spaces for faculty, staff, graduate students and alumni.

The Laurentian Soapbox will be held every fourth Thursday of the month (except in July and December) at 3:00 pm, followed by a cash bar around 4:00 pm. I look forward to seeing you again at Alumni Hall. If you would like to hear about a specific topic or initiative, or would like to suggest recognizing the efforts or accomplishments of colleagues or of a specific department, please advise my assistant, Silvie Allard, at or 705-675-1151, extension 3432.

I look forward to engaging with many of your in the coming days during the budget consultations (which began on February 8th and will run until March 28th), at the Barrie launch of the Strategic Plan this Friday morning, or at the last basketball games of the regular season at the Ben Avery this Friday and Saturday evenings!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or you can join the 2,700 people who follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Merci Thank You  Miigwech