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 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, or you can join the 7,300 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.

Laurentian Matters, Far and Wide

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

Laurentian faculty, staff, and students seem to be everywhere these days.  Our faculty, our students, our research centres and our programs are garnering media attention far and wide, and I am thrilled to be celebrating all of their successes.  Members of the Laurentian community are making their mark, making a difference, and making us all proud.  Here’s a brief list of recent accomplishments in our Laurentian community:

In the North
On January 8th, we celebrated a big announcement from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration:  a three-year funding commitment of $2.7 million for  Professions North, an important program that was started here at Laurentian University by our Faculty of Management. Since its inception in 2010, Professions North has helped more than 300 internationally trained professionals to reach their career goals by bridging education, culture and employment services, and by providing a linking service with employers.  This effort has been making a real difference in the lives of internationally-trained professionals, and in the northern communities where they are living and working.  We’re proud to play a role in this successful program.

On Parliament Hill
From January 9-12th, Laurentian students from Sudbury and Barrie took part in the 22nd annual Model Parliament. As usual, the members of Laurentian’s Political Science Association and faculty worked hard to put together a successful and memorable event and, I congratulate all of them.  I think their “political organizing” skills will certainly serve them well!  It was a privilege for me to attend again this year and to listen to our students’ impressive speeches, questions and answers! It was heartening to see our students meeting and talking politics with keen observers of the Canadian political scene, such as Chancellor Steve Paikin and Richard Madan, Parliamentary Correspondent for CTV News in Ottawa. Our Past Chair, Floyd Laughren, joined us as Governor General. You can read accounts of the student experience in this year’s Model Parliament at and at the Student Blogs page

On January 15th, the federal government announced a new International Education Strategy designed to double the number of international students in Canada by targeting China, Brazil and other fast-growing countries. The government plans to spend $5 million annually to support the program and another $13 million over two years will be spent on the Globalink program, which helps Canadian students study in other countries. This is good news for Laurentian University, where we’ve experienced strong growth in international enrolment.  As set out in our Strategic Plan, we are focussed on increasing the proportion of international students from 6.1% in 2011 to 8% by 2015.

In Ontario
On January 16th, the Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced the launch of a new Course-to-Course Transfer Guide.  This tool makes it easier for Ontario’s postsecondary students to transfer their credits among all of Ontario’s 44 publicly funded colleges and universities. Students can now enter their current transcript information, such as course codes or course titles, and they will be able to see how their credits will be recognized at other institutions prior to applying. As co-chair of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), I am thrilled to see this tool developed to assist students in learning about the pathways available to them.  Laurentian University continues to recognize full credit of courses taken in other universities and is #1 among Ontario universities outside the GTA in terms of college transfers.

In the Universe
Congratulations to Nigel Smith, Christina Kraus, Clarence Virtue and everyone at SNOLab for the wonderful feature that aired on January 20th on PBS News Hour.  The program brought viewers inside “one of the most sophisticated particle physics observatories in the world,” and introduced the enormous PBS audience across the United States and abroad to SNOLab, Laurentian University and Sudbury.  Bravo!

The Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) was awarded an exceptional distinction on January 22nd, when the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced winners of the Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) program. At the Minister’s announcement in Sudbury on January 22nd, CEMI was awarded $15 million for its Ultra-Deep Mining Network proposal, making it the largest grant recipient of the 2014 competition.  Amazing news for our colleagues at CEMI. I am proud to serve as Chair of CEMI this year.

And Still More Kudos!
Congratulations to our own Tracy Oost, Forensic Scientist and Continuity Officer, whose Titanic research continues to gain attention and wide recognition.  Tracy was interviewed recently on the flagship CBC Radio program As it Happens (39:00), as well as CBC Sudbury and Radio New Zealand National.  She has become a leading name in a fascinating field of research, and her work has helped to unravel long-standing mysteries surrounding the tragedy of the Titanic.

Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Laurentian also made headlines this month with breakthrough developments in cancer treatment.  Dr. Parissenti will also be featured on the cover of University Affairs magazine in March.  We are tremendously proud of the work he is doing in helping to improve the quality of life of women with breast cancer.

Laurentian Mechanical Engineering students took home top honours in the Senior Design category at the Ontario Engineering Competition.  Congratulations Richard Lapointe, Justin Gaudet, Nathan Mathias and Mitch Andryechen who will be representing Ontario at the 2014 Canadian Engineering Competition in London, March 13-16.

Research Week is February 3-7th. There is a series of events throughout the week to learn more about the work being done at Laurentian University by our faculty and graduate students.  Click here for the complete agenda.

On February 13th, bidders with an eye for a well-designed ice-fishing hut will be attending a first-of-its-kind auction in support of the Laurentian School of Architecture.  As part of their design/build program of study, our first-year architecture students have been creating ice huts – and without giving too much away, we understand that there are some pretty amazing designs out there!  Perhaps one of these huts will be seen on a lake in your neighbourhood during the current ice-fishing season. The auction will be held at Science North in the Vale Cavern on Thursday, February 13, 6:00-9:00 pm.  Good fishing, everyone.

Also coming up:
On March 6, 2014, the Peter Goring lecture series welcomes the Honourable Bob Rae, who will speak on “Mining and First Nations: Sustainability is the Only Option.” Mr. Rae will share his thoughts on “sustainability” as a critical principle of first nations thinking, and how it relates not only to the land, water, and air, but also to the sustainability of people and communities.  This is sure to be a very popular lecture.  Stay tuned to for further details about this event.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or you can join the 6,800 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.