Setting the Bar High

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

January and February are always invigorating despite the cold weather!

Since my last blog posting, I may have seen you perhaps either at: the 23rd edition of our Model Parliament in the House of Commons organized by the Laurentian University Political Science Association (LUPSA); Soapbox; engaging lectures from the Chairman of Goldcorp Ian Telfer or Olympians Joannie Rochette and Alexandre Bilodeau; the “5 to 7” cocktail reception for Francophone faculty organized by AVP Denis Hurtubise; the “LU Rendez-Vous” honouring retirees and colleagues who have reached significant milestones in their career at Laurentian; the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce panel on leadership which included Dr. John Gunn and me; the reception held at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto by the City of Barrie, IBM and the Kids Internet Safety Alliance (KINSA) to promote our bid for a stand-alone campus in Barrie; the United Way campaign closing celebration and cheque presentation; the President’s brunches organized by Liaison with Deans and students leaders in Sudbury and Barrie for top applicants; events during Research Week; the visit from our Federal Deputy Minister Champion, Michael Keenan, from Natural Resources Canada; the 2nd edition of the Ice Fishing Hut Auction by the School of Architecture; the Chinese Spring Festival Gala; or the Department of Earth Sciences’ reception at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)’s convention in Toronto, to name only a few!

When I reflect on these exciting events, I can’t help but be extremely proud of the passion and energy within our university community, and the high level of commitment towards one or more of our five key goals as a University: student satisfaction and engagement; national recognition; university of choice; community responsiveness; and organizational excellence.

I have also met with the very engaging, creative and energetic colleagues from the Centre for Academic Excellence. If you have not had the opportunity to engage with them yet, please do so! They are really passionate about student success!

Every day people within our university community are going above and beyond, setting the bar higher, showcasing our achievements and garnering recognition for Laurentian nationally and worldwide. These contributions are making a real difference to the betterment of our communities and you should all be proud of the role you are playing.

Let me highlight a few recent examples:

3M Teaching Fellowship
Congratulations to Dr. Pamela Toulouse, School of Education, who is among the 2015 3M Teaching Fellows named by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and 3M Canada. These prestigious fellowships are awarded each year, honouring up to ten nominees for their contributions to teaching and learning in Canadian universities. Dr. Toulouse is one of this year’s ten recipients nationwide, and we offer sincere congratulations on this honour. The 3M Fellowship announcement calls Dr. Toulouse “a role model amongst First Nations communities (and) a highly respected scholar in the areas of Indigenous student success and interactive pedagogy.” The full list of 2015 STLHE and 3M Canada Teaching Fellows can be seen here. This isn’t the first time Pamela has been lauded for her work; just last year, she was recognized with the 2013-2014 Teaching Excellence Award for full-time Faculty Members.

Students’ Choice Teaching Awards
Congratulations go out as well to two Laurentian professors who have been recognized through the second annual Students’ Choice Teaching Awards. Professor Lissa Gagnon (Nursing) and Mery Martinez Garcia (Biologie) were honoured at an awards ceremony on January 31st. The Students Choice Teaching Awards were established in 2013 by the Centre for Academic Excellence to allow students to recognize those faculty members who stimulate interest through effective teaching, enthusiasm and organisation. More than 400 nominations were received, in praise of professors. We salute Mery Martinez Garcia, Lissa Gagnon and all other faculty members nominated for their contributions to the academic experience at Laurentian.

YouthRex Partnership
Laurentian has been selected as one of five Ontario universities to take part in a major research project led by York University. Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services last fall as part of Ontario’s Youth Action Plan, the YouthRex Research and Evaluation eXchange is a collaborative venture intended to improve outcomes and promote youth wellbeing province-wide. The research hub will work directly with the youth sector to share and use research on positive youth development. The project is funded by a $3.75M grant over two and a half years. Congratulations to Dr. Diana Coholic, Director of the School of Social Work. She, along with research leads in Toronto, Ottawa, London and Thunder Bay, are making plans for a province-wide launch of YouthRex this spring. The Laurentian launch was held on March 4th at the Steelworkers Hall.

Engineering Triumph
More kudos for Laurentian’s Bharti School of Engineering at the 2015 Ontario Engineering Competition, held this year at Ryerson University. Laurentian’s junior team of four students in first- and second-year Engineering won the Design competition. The junior team won the OEC Competition in 2009. Laurentian’s senior team placed second, missing out narrowly to University of Guelph. Laurentian won in the Senior Design category last year. So, both junior and senior squads have been very strong in these competitions, but this is the first time that both juniors and seniors finished in the top three in both categories. Well done! Congratulations to the students and to all the excellent faculty advisors who have helped to build the Bharti School’s national reputation. Both teams now go on to represent Laurentian at the Canadian Engineering Competition, to be held at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, March 5-8th. We are cheering for them!

NIBS Worldwide Case Competition
Laurentian University was represented at the 2015 NIBS Worldwide Case Competition February 14th in Ottawa. Only four Canadian universities were selected to compete in this international competition which brings together sixteen teams from leading universities and business schools in China, the United States, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, Finland and the UK. Team members from the Commerce program included Richard Filliter, Russell McMahon, Alexander Fievoli and Benjamin Sibley along with Professor Luc Lagrandeur. Although the team did not place this year, they are applauded for qualifying for the final round of competition. Congratulations!

Research Week
A fascinating showcase of Laurentian research was organized by colleagues for Research Week, February 9th to 12th. The theme of Research Week 2015 was “Evolution in Action,” and the full week of activities included: the Graduate Symposium; the 3-Minute Competition; the Voyageur’s Den; a Science Café on Evolutionary Medicine; ICEBATS (Imaginative Connections Emerging Between Arts and the Sciences); Arts Research from Cover to Cover; a symposium on Food, Citizenship and the Environment; a CNFS workshop on the proactive offer of health services in French; the Louise Picard celebration; a talk on Darwinism; and a performance by “peer-reviewed rapper” Baba Brinkman! It was another exceptional display of our research strengths and a great opportunity for colleagues and students to interact and learn from one another. Applause is due to all those who helped to organize and to contribute. Bravo!

Prestigious Scholarships
Dr. Khaled Taktek, Associate Professor at l’École des sciences de l’éducation, is one of a small group of Canadian scholars who have been honoured with a Fulbright scholarship for 2014-2015. Dr. Taktek has chosen to pursue his research project on “Mental Imagery Training for Peak Performance: An Efficient Strategy for Motor Skills and Performance Enhancement as well as Cognitive Functioning Development” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Only 11 researchers from universities across the country were selected as Canadian Fulbright Scholars this year. Congratulations to Dr. Taktek! Meanwhile, five Laurentian students currently pursuing graduate studies have been awarded the Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship—Master’s Program. They are Leila Reguigui, Mallory Calderwood, Maxine Perrin, Sarah Penney and Sarah Jane Connick.

Exploring the Environment
We were also busy attending environment-themed talks and events across campus in late January. They included the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival, hosted by the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program (ADVL), a talk on Peatland Resilience and Wildfire in a Changing Climate at the Vale Living With Lakes Centre, and our latest Campus Sustainability Forum. It is good to see so many environmental issues taking centre stage, and we applaud Dr. Brett Buchanan, Director of the School of the Environment, and Kati McCartney, Manager, Sustainability, for the work they have been leading with many others.

Finally, I would like to thank the “cast and crew” of the “Celebrating Performing Arts” Soapbox in February who showcased the extraordinary work being done in music and theatre at Laurentian and the Federated Universities; Dr. Robert Hall, Dr. Ian MacLennan and Dr. Paul Colilli and Dr. Christine Sansalone along with the theatre troupe born out of Laurentian’s Modern Languages Department Le Maschere Laurenziane. A reminder as well that each Soapbox is now being livestreamed and is available on LUNET afterwards. Mark your calendars for the next Soapbox being held on Wednesday, March 18th at 3 p.m. in the Brenda Wallace Reading Room.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or you can join the 8,800 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.