2013 off to a roaring start

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

We’ve been off to a roaring start, so far in 2013.  January was exceptionally busy, beginning with two big announcements for our mining programs.  On January 14th, we announced an investment of $1.25M from IAMGOLD to fund the establishment of Canada’s first Research Chair in Open Pit Mining at the Bharti School of Engineering.  This is not only a first in Canada—it is the first privately-funded Research Chair at Laurentian.   The search is now underway, and we hope to have the Chair filled later this year.

Just two days later, we were thrilled to introduce the Franco-Nevada Executive Director of the Goodman School of Mines.  The position is funded through a $500,000 investment by Franco-Nevada. Dr. Bruce Jago, P. Geo, is still getting his feet wet in this critically important position.  He will be responsible for creating the structure of the Goodman School, and one of his goals over the long-term will be to double enrolment in our mining programs by 2020.  A warm welcome to Bruce and his family, who are back in sunny Sudbury after spending the past few years in Vancouver.  We are extremely glad to have Dr. Jago in the position.

Our Political Science students have also had a tremendously busy season, thus far in 2013.  On January 11th, more than 100 students from Sudbury and Barrie in Political Science and several other programs were in Ottawa for the 21st annual Model Parliament.  We are one of only two Canadian universities privileged to hold a Model Parliament in the House of Commons, and this year’s exercise included a particularly “real-world” experience for the participants with demonstrations held on Parliament Hill and in Parliament buildings the same day that the Prime Minister was meeting with First Nations leaders.  Upon their return to Laurentian, some of the Political Science students got ready for a “camping trip” right here on campus.  The 2013 Live-in for Literacy raised more than $5,000!  This is great student leadership in action, and I congratulate this year’s campaign. Here’s a link to a CBC Radio interview with Nathan Gregory Knott and Chloë Bowie Mirfield who participated in this year’s Live-in for Literacy campaign along with Mark Mancini.

More big news in early 2013: Provincial figures show that Laurentian has surged as a choice for a significantly increased number of Ontario secondary school students.  The number of students naming Laurentian as one of their university of choice has jumped 25% for next September.  That’s the highest increase seen at any university in the province, and compares with a 4.6% increase province-wide.

Programs with the highest increases in applications so far: Health Promotion +63%, Science 4 year programs in Sudbury +48%, Arts 4 year programs in Sudbury +46%, Radiation Therapy +46%, Bharti School of Engineering +43%, Social Work in Barrie +33%, Sports Psychology +28%. As well, more than 250 applicants are competing for the 70 spots available in the first intake of the School of Architecture.

I look forward to meeting many of these applicants in the coming months as they confirm their choice of university and program – we take nothing for granted and won’t rest on our laurels as we want future students to have the best university experience possible from the application process to convocation and beyond. During two special President’s Receptions in Sudbury and in Barrie on February 9 and 10, the Deans and I had the opportunity to meet over 50 of these 2013 applicants who had a grade 11 average of above 90%.

I am very proud of the hard work done by our faculty, staff, students and alumni throughout this recruitment season, under the leadership of our impressive Liaison Team. It’s great to see the momentum of the University, the track record of our faculty and alumni, our new undergraduate degree structure and the excellence of our programs and services increasingly being recognized locally and nationally. Our average entry grade has been increasing now above 81%. An increasing proportion of graduates indicate that if they had to start their university studies again, they would DEFINITELY choose Laurentian.

Recent news on applications add to a recent editorial in The Globe and Mail praising our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan as “an excellent strategy,” the recent release of data indicating that Laurentian now has the #1 post-graduate employment rate among Ontario universities, as well as the recent announcement of major private gifts for our Next 50 Campaign. Success attracts success. The re-introduction of varsity hockey in September (men and women), the upcoming campus modernization and improvements to food services on the Sudbury campus, as well as plans for our new downtown Barrie campus, will create even more excitement in the coming months!

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to host three breakfast meetings with diverse groups of faculty and staff from departments including Admissions, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth Sciences, Études françaises, Financial Services, the Office of the Dean of Science and Engineering, the Office of Graduate Studies, the Library, the Midwifery program, Physical Plant and Planning, Physics, Psychology, Security, Risk and Parking, and Social Work. We have also held the first five of 18 planned budget consultation sessions, with members of the Leadership Group including academic department chairs and school directors, representatives from the student associations on the Sudbury campus and the executives of LUSU, LUAPSA and CUPE.

Finally, I want to congratulate all those involved in organizing another important event: Research Week 2013. It was a terrific showcase for the work being done here by our faculty and graduate students. It was a pleasure to attend the launch and closing events (during which awards were announced for presenters during the Graduate Symposium and the “Voyageurs’ Den”), as well as the Lightning Talks.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or you can join the 5,200 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.

Another year of growth and accomplishment

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

My wife Barbara and I want to thank everyone who stopped in at our Open House on Sunday, December 9th.  It was delightful to see so many members of our University community as well as friends and supporters from the broader community.  I trust that all of you enjoyed a peaceful and restorative holiday season, and I would like to extend all best wishes to you and yours in 2013.

A New Year began, and we approach the challenges and opportunities of 2013 with enthusiasm and renewed energy.  But before we turn the page on 2012, it seems appropriate to consider some of the high points and the impressive achievements of the past 12 months.

Early in 2012, we launched our ambitious Strategic Plan for 2012-2017, a purpose-driven document setting out our road map for the future.  A six-year budget was developed to resource each of the 40 outcomes of the Strategic Plan.  Already, we have made significant advances and achieved measurable progress in many of our strategic aspirations and outcomes.

Senate approved unanimously the 2012-2017 Strategic Research Plan, and funding was secured to create a new research chair in Occupational Health and Safety.  Monthly Soapbox sessions were held on the Sudbury campus to enable faculty and staff to learn from each other’s work and get to know each other in a social atmosphere.

This past year also saw the naming of our Goodman School of Mines through the biggest private gift in Laurentian’s history, as well as the opening of the new 12-storey residence, and the arrival of new food and beverage services on campus.  Our $35 million campus modernization plan is being developed as we speak, and I was very pleased to see the first consultation session on November 30th, led by Diamond Schmitt Architects, so well-attended by academic department chairs, school directors, and members of the Leadership Group.

Our presence in Barrie is strong and growing.  In addition to project office space leased at The Creative Space, 12 Dunlop St. East, we have leased 5,000 sq. ft. of new dedicated space for our faculty and staff at 130 Bell Farm Road.

Our men’s and women’s Voyageur hockey teams are preparing to take to the ice next fall (another Strategic Plan outcome).  Coach Stacey Colarossi has named the first five recruits to Laurentian’s women’s hockey team.  We are thrilled to welcome these young athletes to Laurentian University, and we are all looking forward to the dropping of the puck for both men’s and women’s hockey action. You can get information on the tentative game schedules for both teams and purchase individual or season tickets at www.laurentian.ca/voyageurs.

It has also been a year of continuing achievements for many of our Laurentian faculty.  To mention just a couple of accomplishments, among many: I would like to congratulate Psychology Professor Dr. Paul Valliant, on his latest book launch, Life after 50. The Road to Longevity.  Kudos as well to English Professor Dr. Thomas Gerry on the upcoming release of his book The Emblems of James Reaney. Laurentian faculty continued to make us all proud and to enhance the University’s reputation throughout 2012.  For example, our Tri-Council funding has increased by 18% in 2011-2012 alone. Senate approved a new master’s program in Indigenous Relations and a new certificate program in social sciences research, while several new majors and minors were developed as a result of our new undergraduate structure.  Several successful conferences were held on the Sudbury campus including the International Conference on Mass Mining and the third National Research Forum of the Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS).

I would like to congratulate all who contributed to the United Way campaign this year.  The target for the 2012 campaign was 111 pledges and $42,500.  I am happy to report that this goal was surpassed with 123 pledges that totaled $48,324.  Thank you all for your generous support, evidence of the caring nature of the Laurentian community!

At the last regular meeting of the Board of Governors on December 14th, I delivered a highly visual Review of 2012 which you may Year In Review.

At that meeting, the Board awarded a $5.5 million contract to Cy Rheault Construction Ltd. of Timmins for the first phase of work to prepare the School of Architecture  for its charter class in September 2013.  Phase 1 entails the refurbishing and modernizing of the two existing structures on the site.  The CP Freight Shed, built in 1905, will be renovated with new siding, roofing, insulation, and mechanical systems.  The second floor of the CP Telegraph Building, built in 1914, will be renovated for use of faculty offices.  Both structures will be equipped with up-to-date and efficient heating and cooling systems.  The exterior of the telegraph building will be restored through masonry cleaning and the installation of new windows, preserving the original design features.  Phase 1 of the project will employ roughly 70 people, most of who will be hired in Sudbury, according to Cy Rheault Construction.  Phase 2 of the construction is expected to begin later in 2013, with preparations for 65,000 square feet of new construction incorporating the two original buildings into the design. Construction is due to be complete in September 2015.

Towards the end of the year, I had many in-depth conversations with the president of LUFA and LUSU, representatives from AEF and the REFO, and some faculty members from the Library, the departments of Biology, English, Modern Languages, Philosophy, and the Schools of Human Kinetics and Sports Administration on a range of topics.  With every conversation, I became energized. The success of any organization relies on relationships.  Many colleagues have shared with me their sense of excitement for the strategic directions that we have set for ourselves as a University community over the past year, while highlighting specific concerns or opportunities that need to be given greater consideration in the coming months.

In my next blog posting, I will highlight more exciting developments from the first weeks of 2013.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or you can join the 5,000 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.