Students First

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

Walking through the Classroom Building, I see students sitting on the new benches, working, collaborating and laughing. Across campus, I see newly-renovated classrooms and labs filled with bright minds and state-of-the art technology. At the Great Hall, I regularly hear how the food and service is top notch. Starbucks and the new foyer of the Alphonse-Raymond Building are new spaces for students to enjoy.

MyLaurentian hub is up and running on the ground floor of the Parker Building, minimizing the need for students to go at various offices on campus for assistance. We will soon begin construction of the $10 million Student Centre next to the West Residence, an initiative led by the Student’s General Association (SGA) and funded by its members.

The East Residence was built to address a waiting list for residences on campus. The Centre for Academic Excellence was established to support student success. Varsity hockey was re-introduced as a mean to enhance student life.

Students spoke during the development of the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, and we listened.

Students now have new opportunities to be heard. You have likely seen posters around campus referring to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). This survey is sent to more than 300,000 first and fourth year students at hundreds of colleges and universities across Canada. It measures how much time and effort students put into their studies, but also how well we do at supporting them in their studies.

The answers students give us help us understand what we are doing well… and not so well.

If you are a student, I hope that you can find a few minutes in your busy schedule to fill out the survey. You will likely have received invitations by email on February 9th, and we will remind you again in March. I should also mention that of those of you who do respond will qualify for two $500 prizes. If you want more information, please go to

The second upcoming opportunity for students to help shape Laurentian’s future is the development of the University’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. The Board of Governors and Senate have now appointed the 24 members of the 2018-2023 Strategic Planning Steering Committee:

• Dr. Linda Ambrose, Special Advisor – Strategic Planning; Full Professor, Department of History; former Acting Dean, Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities; recipient of Laurentian University Teaching Excellence Award; recipient of Laurentian University Status of Women Achievement Award;

• Dr. Lace Marie Brogden, Dean, Faculty of Education;

• Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek, Associate Vice-President, Academic and Indigenous Programs; Full Professor, School of Rural and Northern Health; Senator; alumna;

• Dr. Robin Craig, Lead Research and Knowledge Mobilization Strategist; member of the board of Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO); member of the board of the Laurentian Child and Family Centre;

• Dr. Joël Dickinson, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology; Co-Chair, Committee for Sexual and Gender Diversity; recipient of a Laurentian University Teaching Excellence Award; Northern Leadership Program (NLP) Fellow

• Éric Dupuis, Bachelor of Business Administration student, Vice-President and Treasurer, Association des étudiantes et étudiants francophones;

• Grace Fox, member of the Laurentian University Native Education Council (LUNEC), trustee with the Rainbow District School Board;

• Dominic Giroux, President and Vice-Chancellor (Chair);

• Kraymr Grenke, H.B.Comm. student; President of the Students’ General Association (SGA); Vice-President, Finance of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance; Voyageurs athlete; Governor; Senator;

• Lorella Hayes, Member of the Board of Governors; Vice-President, Corporate Services, Greater Sudbury Utilities; alumna

• Paul Henry, Principal, École secondaire catholique Sacré-Coeur, Sudbury; member of the board of directors of Learning Networks of Ontario, Mid North Network; member of the Comité des services sociaux en français; alumnus

• Emily Jago, Master of Human Kinetics student; Voyageurs athlete; alumna;

• Marz Kord, CEO and President, Wallbridge Mining Company Limited; alumnus;

• Claude Lacroix, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors; Partner, Lacroix Laywers; alumnus;

• Martin Laferrière, Director, IT Infrastructure; NLP Fellow; alumnus;

• Dr. Pascal Lefebvre, Associate Professor, Speech Pathology program; Senator;

• Justin Lemieux, MBA student; Director of Student Recruitment; NLP Fellow; member of the board of the Sudbury Charities Foundation; alumnus;

• Chris Mercer, Associate Vice-President, Student Life, Enrolment Management and International; member of the board of the Sudbury Airport Community Development Corporation; recipient of Sudbury Top 40 Under 40 award; Senator

• Dr. Thomas Merritt, Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics; Full Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Past Chair, Northern Water Sports Centre; recipient of a Community Builder Award for Sport and Recreation;

• Dr. Amanda Schweinbenz, Associate Professor, School of Human Kinetics; Co-Chair, 2021 Canada Summer Games Bid Committee; Voyageurs coach; Senator;

• Alex Usher, President of Higher Education Strategy Associates and Editor-in-Chief of Global Higher Education Strategy Monitor;

• David Vares, PhD in Human Studies student, President of the Graduate Students’ Association; member of the board of Sudbury and Manitoulin Workforce Planning; Governor; Senator; alumnus;

• Dr. Shelley Watson, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology; recipient of a Laurentian University Teaching Excellence Award; former Acting Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies;

• Jennifer Witty, Chair of the Board of Governors; Superintendent of Human Resources Systems, Ontario Operations, Vale; member of the board of the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation; alumna.

Consultations will unfold between February 28th and May 30th.

Speaking of students and success, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge some students from the Bharti School of Engineering who are on their way to compete in the Canadian Engineering Competition.

Both the Junior and Senior teams have qualified to compete at the national competition. The junior team is composed of Harry Brahmbhatt, Daniel Krupin and Alexander Macenzie and Connor Watson, while the senior team is composed of Matt Bennison, Stéphane Labine, Colin Roos and Aidan Simpson.

As usual, our students are punching well above their weight. It is not lost on me that once again, two of the 14 Ontario teams competing for this prestigious honour are from Laurentian, and remember there are 16 accredited engineering schools in Ontario. We know you are already all-stars and will make Laurentian proud.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.

LU Rendez-vous: A Celebration of Faculty and Staff Commitment

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

Lise Poirier came to Laurentian in September 1991 after having served in the armed forces and working in the mining sector. Since then, she has been a fixture to life on campus. Not only does she keep us all safe, but is a staple at convocation, greeting graduates and guests dressed in her finest uniform.

Dr. Jorge Virchez started teaching in the Geography Department in 1991. Arguably one of the nicest people on campus, his friendly and supportive demeanour has had a lasting impact on students and colleagues alike.

Michelle K. Brunette started at Laurentian in 2001 as Manager of International Student Recruitment with Laurentian International. Throughout her career, she has continued to pursue her graduate studies while raising her young children. I can’t help but take note of how generous she is with her time – she will not hesitate to lend a helping hand, especially during one of her famous walking meetings!

These are just a few of the stories I have been thinking about since hosting our celebration on January 26th of recent retirees and Laurentian and Federated University employees last week. These colleagues were recognized for having dedicated 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service. This celebration has become one of the highlights of the year for the Laurentian community.

This is an event I look forward to every year. The university is all about its people. Faculty and staff are the ones who make Laurentian such a special place to work and study and you are the ones who have helped propel Laurentian into this “new league.” You work extremely hard and I see it every day.

Dr. Serge Demers was our Master of Ceremony… and once again, the event was filled with his warm and “punny” remarks.

Bill Sanders made us all howl with laughter at another round of wonderful videos celebrating our honourees. Silvie Allard and I were featured prominently this year and I can only say that Bill can make you do or say pretty much anything!

A huge thank you to the whole team in Human Resources and Organizational Development, Suzanne Chartrand in particular, for the work you have not only put into this event, but also for the work you do for all of us on a daily basis.

After the ceremony, I had a chance to speak with many honourees, attendees, Governors and retirees who took the time to came back on campus to celebrate their former colleagues. For many, this was the first time that they attended LU Rendez-vous and they were visibly filled with joy. One colleague commented how, after convocation, this was her favourite event of the year.

I couldn’t agree more. Once again, thank you to those who were honoured at LU Rendez-vous, and to each of you who will be honoured in the years to come.

A group of retired and honoured Faculty and Staff, celebrated during LU Rendez Vous 2017

Laurentian University Rendez Vous 2017.


As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.