Ontario Universities’ Fair: One of the Highlights of the Year

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

Since my last blog posting, I have had the pleasure of meeting with the departments of Political Science, History, Études françaises, Economics and the School of Social Work.  As always, I enjoy these informal chats with faculty and staff in diverse disciplines, and they provide me the opportunity to hear first-hand about exciting projects, aspirations and challenges, throughout the university.

I also had the pleasure of taking part in lectures hosted by the Goodman School of Mines (with J. Paul Rollinson, Laurentian alumnus and President and CEO of Kinross Gold, one of the world’s largest gold producers) and by the School of Architecture (with Bruce Kuwabara member of the Order of Canada and a founding partner in KPMB Architects).

On September 17th we also celebrated the launch of the new School of Environment at the Fromagerie Elgin in downtown Sudbury. Congratulations to Dr. Brett Buchanan, Dr. Christian Bouchard, Dr. Elizabeth Dawes, Dr. Osman Abou-Rabia and all other colleagues from the School of Environment for their leadership. I am excited about what’s ahead for this new school, including the lecture on the Sudbury campus on September 29th featuring David Miller, President and CEO of WWF-Canada and the former Mayor of Toronto.

One of the highlights of the academic year is the Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF) held every September at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  More than 80 of our faculty, staff and students came to Toronto to meet with the 130,000 visitors who registered at this year’s OUF (almost 10,000 more than last year’s fair).

Laurentian is proud to be the Ontario University with the highest retention rate of local high school graduates pursuing a university education. In addition, a majority of our students now come from outside Northeastern Ontario. OUF is therefore a critical opportunity for us to put our best foot forward and engage with thousands of potential applicants and their parents.

I make a point of attending OUF every year to support the work our faculty, staff and students. They make an important personal and family sacrifice to spend close to four days on the road and at the fair. They are on their feet for countless hours, talking with people and representing all that Laurentian has to offer — and I am told they went through an incredible number of Costco-size bags of Ricola mints to keep from losing their voices!

We have had many successful editions of OUF these past few years, but I really think that this year the calibre of the organization, the engagement and the representation from a wide range of faculty and staff was second to none. I would like to thank all of the colleagues and students from Sudbury and Barrie who participated at OUF, as well as those who worked behind the scenes – in Liaison, Marketing and Information Technology to name a few – to make our participation at this year’s 18th edition of OUF a resounding success.

Our Chancellor, Steve Paikin, even joined us for a few hours on Saturday. He spoke with many of our faculty, staff and students, engaged with prospective applicants and their parents, toured the fair and promoted the University actively with his 55,000 followers on Twitter. I invite you to check the pictures I posted on my Facebook page of the Chancellor’s visit. You may also see a sample of all pictures taken at OUF by all universities.

I’d also like to share with you some of the feedback I’ve picked up since returning from OUF:

  • A faculty member emailed me about his experience at OUF over the weekend. “Knowing our efforts pay off and are appreciated makes it all worthwhile. I also have to admit that the constant buzz at OUF gets the adrenaline pumping. Your willingness to throw yourself into the fray at OUF is also leadership that is noticed and appreciated”.
  • One of our suppliers sent an unsolicited email to one of our Directors: “We attended the University Fair in Toronto yesterday (that place was crazy!!) We spent a great deal of time at the Laurentian stand and suite – we were impressed by the hospitality, the staff and how kind and informative they were – so much so that my daughter will more than likely schedule a tour.” 
  • One of our staff members posted on his personal Facebook page: “Quelle expérience merveilleuse de rencontrer ces jeunes adultes et leurs parents. Nous avons une excellente équipe à OUF qui a engagé les jeunes adultes à découvrir la Laurentienne, se découvrir eux memes et de voir le potentiel”.
  • One of our new senior academic administrators posted on LinkedIn: “Notre équipe d’étudiantes, d’étudiants, de personnel administratif, de professeures et de professeurs donne ce qu’on peut appeler une “clinique” d’engagement envers l’Université Laurentienne. Je n’ai pas vu ailleurs une implication et un travail d’équipe de cette qualité, et de loin. Bravo à nous, congratulations to all of us!”
  • Another faculty member wrote on his personal Facebook page: “Another great day at the Ontario University Fair! Talked to many students and their parents about the various programs at Laurentian. Also had a few visits from former students working in Toronto. Hearing about their success is always exciting and rewarding”.
  • Another post on Facebook from a faculty member: “Great day at the Ontario University Fair! It’s great to be part of the Laurentian team! Working together to help students see what Laurentian University can offer.”
  • A staff member posted on her personal Facebook page: “Day one of OUF complete. All I can say is WOW what an amazing “dream team” working the booth today. So much knowledge packed into one area. Super excited for the huge crowds of students tomorrow. Laurentian proud!”
  • Another staff member posted on her personal Facebook page: “So happy to be here talking about our amazing university! It is easy to promote a city you love

and school you are proud to work for.”
Needless to say, I share their pride in our university, and to all the faculty, staff and students who represented us so well at OUF. Every year, OUF reminds me why I love what I do and how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such outstanding talent.

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 8,000 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.

An Appetite for Excellence

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

Summer is winding down and the new academic year is upon us. I hope that you made some time to relax over the summer.  The Sudbury campus is already bustling with the arrival of students for a new school year, along with some new faculty, staff, and a lot of construction!  We will be seeing some significant changes over the next eight months, and I hope you are excited, as I am.

I would like to welcome the new cohort of students, as well as the new staff and faculty members who will be joining us this year, both in Sudbury and Barrie. I have had the opportunity to interact with many new students and their parents during move-in weekend, as well as with some of our new faculty during one of several orientation sessions organized by the Centre for Academic Excellence.

As for those of us who are returning to the Sudbury campus, many changes have already taken place here since you’ve been gone. You are sure to notice the major renovations to the Great Hall and how our wonderful new food services area has been converted into the Fresh Food Co, a marché-style dining experience with an array of delicious menu choices.  We have also opened an outlet that will be an instant favourite with many on campus: a Topper’s Pizza restaurant, just across from the Subway in the foyer of the Great Hall.

Consistent with outcomes identified in the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan under our key goals of Student Satisfaction and Engagement and University of Choice, this is just the beginning of a number of student-centered renovations that will be taking place across campus over the next three years. The biggest changes will begin this fall and continue into the fall of 2016. There will be major overhauls to many classrooms, labs and public spaces. You will see a new front entrance taking shape, along with outdoor gathering spaces, a re-design of student services, and more.  Upgrades are planned for 34 classrooms and five labs, which will enable faculty members to adapt their modes of teaching to reflect new technology. This work will be staged, so that learning continues with minimal disruption.  There will be all kinds of construction going on over the coming school year, and we will have to work around it, at times.  But the investments in our infrastructure will pay off for many years to come.  You can find the plans for Campus Modernization displayed on the walls of the bowling alley as well as on our website. In addition, the last phases for the rehabilitation of the Single Student Residence will be completed by the end of 2014.

On September 17th, we will officially open the new School of the Environment, which will serve to strengthen and expand our expertise in all studies related to the environment. This initiative endorsed by Senate aligns with the commitment in the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, to integrate our approaches to Environmental Science and Environmental Studies. The School will bring the Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, Etudes de l’environnement, Science Communication and Archeology programs together into one school. This will help students gain a more holistic and well-rounded understanding of the environment and the challenges that society faces in the coming years. The School of the Environment will also collaborate with the Vale Living with Lakes Centre and other research centres, including the Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation.

Also new this fall is the Masters of Indigenous Relations program. This program fills a need locally, nationally and internationally, to train people to be knowledgeable about working with Indigenous communities and to foster greater understanding of Indigenous perspectives. The new program of Maîtrise en sciences infirmières is also being offered for the first time in French.

Phase Two construction continues at the Laurentian School of Architecture. Over the summer, members of our charter class completed their first co-op placements, working with various businesses. You can follow the construction of live via webcam.

On August 25th, I participated in the Energy and Mines Minister’s Conference (EMMC), held in Sudbury. The EEMC is an annual gathering of federal, provincial and territorial ministers who are responsible for energy and mining portfolios. I participated in a panel discussion on Innovation in Energy and Mining.

On October 16th and 17th, the Leadership Summit 2014 will be held at the Vale Science North Cavern. This is an opportunity to learn how to build leadership capacity and to interact with leading industry experts to discuss how we can shape the workplace and develop the next generation of leaders.  To learn more about the Leadership Summit, or to register, visit http://laurentian.canadiangovernmentexecutive.ca/

Another exciting part to starting the new academic year is that the Voyageurs are back in action.  The Men’s and Women’s hockey teams have announced their open-tryout dates for the 2014-15 season.   Check out the Laurentian Voyageurs website for all Voyageur sports games and times.

In the coming weeks, the University will finalize its submission due September 26th as part of the Request for Proposal for Major Capacity Expansion to secure government approval for its stand-alone campus in Barrie. A decision is expected by the Province in 2015 on this important file. You can find more information about these plans on the It’s Time Barrie website.

If you have not met them already, I encourage you to reach out to new colleagues: Dr. Denis Hurtubise, Associate Vice-President, Academic and Francophone Affairs; Brent Roe, University Librariay; and Gisèle Regimbal, Chief of Staff. It’s our pleasure to welcome them to the Laurentian community.

Finally, I look forward to resuming my tour of academic departments and schools, with eight meetings already scheduled with colleagues from the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Health and the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Architecture. This will be followed by a tour of non-academic departments later during this academic year.


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 8,000 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.


Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.