Welcome Back and Happy 2016!

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

“It still has that new building smell!”, exclaimed one student who was walking last week through the hallway of the newly renovated Classroom Building.

“I’m going to like taking classes in this place…”, said another.

“The Classroom Building looks so new and fresh…”, wrote another student on Twitter.

“I’m off to teach my first class in the spectacularly renovated Classroom Building!”, tweeted a faculty member from the Faculty of Arts.

A colleague from the Faculty of Science tweeted, “Taught in classroom building @LaurentianU this am. 3 cheers for accessibility and inclusion and being able to roll to all my students”.

Another faculty member posted on Facebook, “I just gave my first lecture in the classroom building. It’s gorgeous! You should be very proud! I love the technology”.

Never mind the fact that you can now get from your class or office in the Parker Building to the J.N. Desmarais Library (or Starbucks) without putting on a jacket, the place is beautiful.

Ash wood sourced from Northern Ontario is incorporated into the design softening both the light and the sound. State-of-the-art audiovisual panels and smart-boards make it easier for professors to use the latest technologies, and the chairs are very comfortable. No more writing on the arm rests! The new desks are all on wheels so our classrooms are now creative spaces to grow creative minds.

The completion of the Classroom Building is an important milestone in an ambitious capital program. In the coming months, you will see the work in the Science buildings wrap-up, the Executive Learning Centre and the University Club will open their doors, while the School of Architecture, renovations to the Alphonse-Raymond Building and the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Lab will be completed.

But a new year doesn’t always mean change. I have just come back from Ottawa having participated with Chancellor Steve Paikin in a long-standing tradition: the Laurentian University Political Science Association’s (LUPSA) 24th Model Parliament. Once again a magnificent success.

With every space on the bus full, students were treated with a tour of Parliament on Thursday night, but as always the big day was Friday.

At this year’s Model Parliament, a majority NDP government led by Prime Minister Anthony Costello made a convincing argument to have Ellen Page, Chris Hadfield, Perdita Felicien and Joseph-Armand Bombardier replace former Prime Ministers on Canadian currency; a motion that was ultimately successful. PM Costello also stood strong through a barrage of questions from all opposition parties.

You may also be interested to hear that a Liberal bill to reinstate conscription and a Conservative bill to combine Canadian and American militaries were narrowly defeated.

We were also fortunate to hear from two exceptional speakers. At lunch, we were joined by the new host of CBC’s Power and Politics, Rosemary Barton, who gave us the inside scoop on the #bartonbeating before running off to an interview with Minister Ralph Goodale. During the evening gala at the Château Laurier, we were joined by long-time CTV correspondent Craig Oliver, who explained how he was accidentally invited to dinner with President Ronald Reagan and the First Lady. Needless to say, you had to be there. Pictures of the event are found here.

It was great to have once again this year Professor Emeritus Dr. Rand Dyck spend most of the day with students, and to meet with students and alumni who are already busy planning for the 25th edition next January, which will include a very special alumni reunion.

Congratulations to Kayla May and the rest of LUPSA students, as well as colleagues from the Department of Political Science, on this wonderful event which brought together students from a wide-range of programs in Sudbury and Barrie.

Last week, we also hosted Justin Ferbey, President of the Yukon Development Corporation, as part of the Goring Family Lecture Series on Sustainable Northern Economic Development. On January 28th, we will host award-winning singer-songwriter and founding member of The Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page, for an evening talk entitled, “Ending the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health”, as part of the Dr. Dan Andreae Distinguished Presidential Lecture Series.

Finally, I invite all colleagues to attend the 2016 LU Rendez-Vous UL n Thursday, January 21st at 1:30pm in the Alumni Hall, where we will honour retirees and faculty and staff celebrating career milestones at Laurentian.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or can join the 10,300 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.