Looking Ahead To 2014

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

I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable, peaceful and safe holiday. I would like to wish you health, success and happiness for the New Year!

As promised in my last blog posting, here are some highlights of what promises to be another exciting year at Laurentian.

My New Year’s resolution is to undertake a tour of the University’s 35 academic departments and schools, Barrie included, between now and June. Last year, one of the means I adopted to keep in touch with faculty and staff was to hold weekly breakfasts with colleagues. I look forward to discussing the University’s strategic directions and post-secondary education landscape, and hearing firsthand about your recent accomplishments and innovations, challenges and aspirations.

  • By the end of January, we will respond to a provincial call for proposals to expand French-language post-secondary education in the Greater Toronto Area in selected disciplines.
  • In April the Board of Governors will review the Comprehensive Business Plan for our Barrie campus, in preparation for the call for proposals for new satellite campuses announced by the Ontario government in the last Fall Economic Statement. It will also award the contract for Phase 2 of the School of Architecture, which will begin in March for completion by fall 2015.
  • The Regroupement des étudiants franco-ontariens (RÉFO) will be holding the États généraux sur le postsecondaire en Ontario français on February 22nd-23rd in Toronto, with the aim of articulating its aspirations for French-language post-secondary education in Ontario by 2025.
  • We expect a first Strategic Mandate Agreement (for a three-year period from 2014-2015 to 2016-2017) to be signed with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities by March 31st. This SMA will be informed byOntario’s Differentiation Policy Framework for Postsecondary Education released by the Ministry in November.
  • The University will complete recruitment processes for a number of key positions including Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, University Librarian, as well as Registrar and Secretary of Senate.
  • As per my performance goals for the current year, we will present to the Board of Governors in April an implementation plan to increase graduate enrolment from 378 full-time equivalent (FTE) in 2011-2012 to 675 FTE in 2018-2019.
  • In the coming months, we will also investigate changes in education fueled by technology, and report back to the Board in June.  Included in the report will be best practices and innovations in coming to grips with changes in how students learn and communicate in the digital world.  It will outline any opportunities we may find in leveraging Laurentian’s content and pedagogy to be a leader in distance and digital education where compatible with our values, beliefs and strategic directions.
  • The Canadian Association of Physicists will hold its annual congress on the Sudbury campus on June 16th-20th.
  • A new collective agreement will be negotiated with the Laurentian University Faculty Association, as the current one expires on June 30th. Equal cost-sharing of pension plan costs by 2018 (72% of costs are currently paid by the University, 28% are paid by employees) is expected to be a key topic for the upcoming collective bargaining process.
  • By June, The Goodman School of Mines will support the introduction of six new mining-related minors or majors which may be offered as early as September 2014 for returning students or September 2015 for new students, as well as the delivery of a cumulative 6,000 person-hours of non-credit modular or executive programs including two courses available and marketed online worldwide featuring leading-edge interactive capabilities.
  • The University will welcome new research chairs in Open Pit Mining, Occupational Health and Safety and Sustainable Northern Economic Development.
  • Great Hall will be significantly renovated this spring and summer, to support improved food offerings (Fresh Food Co.) and extended hours.
  • Two new masters’ programs will be launched in September in Indigenous Relations and Sciences infirmières.
  • This fall, the University will award the contract and begin work for the $44.6 million Sudbury Campus modernization to be completed in phases by 2016, including the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre. Over 200 internal consultations informed the schematics. If you have not had a chance to take part in the recent Campus Modernization Open House, please take a few minutes to listen to the CBC story featuring Capital Projects Director Brad Parkes.
  • In December, the Board of Governors approved the Sudbury Campus Arena “project implementation”. This allows the university to, obtain the services of a specialist consultant versed in P3 (public-private partnerships) business models to assist in the preparation of a Request for Proposal document which will be submitted to the Board for consideration during the coming year.  You will recall that in February 2010, the Board of Governors approved a multipurpose athletics facility, funded by the private sector, as a long-term capital strategic direction. The recently completed Campus Master Plan process looked at the location for a new twin-pad arena taking into account such things as adjacencies to other like facilities, location of potential parking, services, transit, potential for road connections, etc. A location was selected immediately behind the Ben Avery Physical Education building which was felt to be an ideal location for such a facility. In order to optimize operations, the University contemplates the construction and operation by the private sector of a minimum of two ice surfaces. Additional ice surfaces or other facilities may be included should the partnership prove the need for the additional space.
  • Senate is expected to review the University’s Academic Plan, which was last updated in February 2011, and to make decisions on a potentially new Faculty structure.
  • Progress will continue to be pursued in the implementation of the Laurentian Electronic Age Project (LEAP) in various departments and in the follow up to the 2013 Have Your Say survey on faculty and staff engagement, including staff training, professional and leadership development.

This is only a small sample of what you can expect in 2014.

Municipal elections will be held on October 27th. Provincial elections may also be triggered in 2014. We will need to continue to adapt to the evolving political landscape, and to continue to highlight the significant contribution of universities to the future well-being of Canadians.

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 6,800 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.