Breaking New Ground

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

It’s been an especially cold winter, but the brisk pace at Laurentian University has certainly kept us warm! We’ve been busy with so many events since the last blog posting.

In February, we marked the 2014 Aboriginal Awareness Week with a full schedule of activities including a Celebration of 25 years of Indigenous Social Work Education, followed by “The People” a lecture by Thom Alcoze, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University. It was another noteworthy celebration of the culture and the achievements of our First Nations and Métis communities.

We also celebrated the talent and ingenuity of our Laurentian Architecture students with a fund-raising auction on February 13th.  The ice-fishing huts designed by our charter class made a big splash with the bidders, and the event raised $22,000 for the School of Architecture. Then, on March 20th, we marked another important chapter in the history of Laurentian University with the official ground-breaking ceremony for Phase II of the Laurentian Architecture project.  The Board of Governors awarded a $23.9M contract for the construction of 55,000 sq. ft. of new space, beautifully designed by LGA-Architectural Partners.  We will be following the progress of this unique and exciting project through a Skycam that will record the construction over the next two years.  The Skycam Address is oxblue.com/open/laurentian so even if you’re not in downtown Sudbury, you’ll be able to see our landmark building taking shape.

As well, the Department of Earth Sciences, the Mineral Exploration Research Centre (MERC) and the Goodman School of Mines, hosted our annual reception at the Prospectors’ and Developers’ Association of Canada (PDAC) meeting at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto on March 4th. Colleagues and I met with many alumni and friends of Laurentian. We were delighted to do some bragging about Laurentian’s recent accomplishments as Canada’s go-to university for mineral exploration and mining.

In fulfillment of one of the outcomes of our Strategic Plan 2012-2017, Senate approved the creation of a new Faculty of Health effective July 1st, to position Laurentian as a leader in inter-professional health education and research. At the same occasion, Senate approved new Faculties for Education and Graduate Studies, the merger of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Humanities into a Faculty of Arts, and the renaming of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Architecture.

Budget consultations for 2014-15 are well underway. We have already held sessions with the Leadership Group, student leaders, representatives from the executives of the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA), the Laurentian University Staff Union (LUSU) and CUPE, and the Faculty of Management. It is part of our continuing commitment to listen to the viewpoints of all members of the University community, and it will continue in the weeks ahead, as we consult with colleagues from Senate, the Laurentian University Administrative and Professional Staff Association (LUAPSA), the Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities, the Faculty of Professional Schools, the Library, the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the Laurentian University Native Education Council (LUNEC), as well as student leaders, faculty and staff in Barrie.  Our aim, as always, is to work through a sound budget planning process that will ensure our programs and services are well-resourced, while also maintaining the strong fiscal position we have achieved in the past few years. This consultative and rigorous approach has put Laurentian in a very good position relative to most other Ontario universities. You will be hearing more about our next budget in the months to come.

It’s important for us as a university to remain engaged in provincial discussions which may impact university funding in the coming years. For this reason, I have agreed to serve on a newly created Task Force on Funding Flexibility and Funding Formula created by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

In closing, congratulations to all on the International Day of La Francophonie, March 20th. Our celebrations at Laurentian began with a breakfast conference presented with the ACFO du Grand Sudbury, featuring our special guest, Ronald Caza.  As well as being a dear friend, Ron is one of the country’s foremost advocates for minority language rights, is also a proud alumnus and the recipient of an Honourary Doctorate from Laurentian.  It was an excellent way to mark this international celebration, one which resonates so strongly within our university community.  Bravo!

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 7,300 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.