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.

Celebrating Excellence

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

Since my last blog-post, I have had the pleasure of engaging informally over coffee with faculty members from Biology, Commerce, Human Kinetics, Library, Physics and Political Science. We have also held eight budget consultations in Barrie with representatives from faculty, staff and students, and in Sudbury with Senate, colleagues in the Library and in the Faculties of Science and Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities and Professional Schools, as well as the executive of the Laurentian University Faculty Association. The last of 17 budget consultations will be held shortly with the Faculty of Management.

In this blog-post I want to celebrate some of the accomplishments of our Laurentian community, and I’d like to begin by acknowledging another tremendous performance by our students in the Bharti School of Engineering. They made us all proud at the 2013 Canadian Mining Games, March 8-10 in Montreal.  The Laurentian team finished a very strong second, wrapping up the competition only 3.2% behind first-place Queen’s in the scoring.  Ten universities competed at these games, which Laurentian has won more often than any other school. This year, Laurentian placed first in Drilling and Blasting, Environmental, Mineral Processing, and Surveying.  The Laurentian crew were among the top four in 16 of the 26 events of the Games, and also made the top three in some new events introduced this year: Crisis Management, Sustainable Development, and Mine Trivia. Team Captain Dusty Nerpin (Mechanical Engineering) says the mining games are “a direct representation of the quality of the university and its ability to teach young engineers.”  We agree.  Well-done, Team Laurentian!

Another group of our high-performing students excelled in competition in Boston Massachusetts at the MIT Sloan Sport Analytic Case Competition—an event that’s been called “the Super Bowl of Sport Analytics.”  The team of three Sports Administration students beat the odds simply by being invited to present at the prestigious competition.  They also pulled off an impressive second place with a panel of top executives from the sports and broadcasting industries.  Congratulations, SPAD students, for adding more clout to the Laurentian brand.

I also want to celebrate the achievements of the winners of some prestigious awards for teaching and research.  Dr. Tammy Eger of the School of Human Kinetics and Executive Director of CROSH was named the recipient of Laurentian’s 2012-2013 Research Excellence Award.  This award is bestowed when there is evidence of “outstanding performance” by a faculty member.  Tammy’s work in Occupational Safety and Health is contributing to national recognition for Laurentian.  As well, two faculty members have been honoured in our Faculty of Science and Engineering.  Dr. Mohamed Azzouz, member of the Department of Physics since 2001, was recognized for Teaching Excellence, while Dr. Virtue, who has been at Laurentian since 1992 and is the principal investigator and spokesperson for HALO, was awarded the Research Excellence Award.  My commendations to each of the honourees.

More Laurentian faculty and alumni were recognized during the gala celebration of this year’s Community Builders Awards.  Those honoured include Emeritus Professor in Biology, Dr. Gerard Courtin with the Environment Award, and Canada Research Chair Dr. Thomas Merritt, who won the Sports and Recreation Award for his work to involve people with physical or developmental challenges in sport.  Inducted into the Community Builders’ Hall of Fame were Laurentian graduate and honorary degree recipient, Mary Stefura and her husband John.  Once again, Laurentian is proud to know that so many members of our university community are playing leadership roles in Greater Sudbury. I was humbly honoured to be among them.  You can read a report on the 10th Anniversary CBA Awards Gala here.

Congratulations to Laurentian professor Sylvia Hunt and graduates of Laurentian’s English program in Barrie for the successful launch of their book called The Palace of Pleasure & Other Early Poems on March 1st at The Creative Space.  This team delved into the earlier works of Leigh Hunt in their book published by Juvenilia Press.  Student Karl Denny who did the illustrations in the book and Jessica Hewitt delivered poetry readings at the event which featured an exhibit of the artwork from the publication. Sylvia’s lecture on Leigh Hunt’s early life and the readings of poems were exceptional and totally appreciated by the audience of more than 50 people.  Other students who worked on the project were Sage Hyden, Nicole Birch-Bayley, Lindsay Higgs and Hannah Guirguis.  Kudos on a job well done!

Congratulations also go out to second year students Charles Mapletoft, majoring in physics, and Joshua Vandermost, majoring in neuroscience, who were proud recipients of the NORCAT’s inaugural student business plan competition.  The judges were impressed with their submission for their business Maple-Most, a service that will help students living on campus do their groceries without even having to leave their room.

Laurentian’s Associate Vice-President, Academic and Indigenous Programs, Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek has been recognized as a Women of Distinction along with Assistant Professor Adele Lafrance Robinson, alumni Francine Boudreau and Stella Marotta, and first year student in the Women’s studies Program Tanya Maier!  On April 27th, these members of our Laurentian community will receive this prestigious award from the YWCA at a gala to be held in Sudbury.  Well-deserved!

I also want to thank our last Soapbox presenters: Charles Wilson who reviewed new services offered through the Students’ General Association; Darby Reive who shared his experience at the MIT Sloan Sport Analytics Conference; Tanya Maier from the Women’s Studies Association; Thomas Raskevicius who provided his perspective on the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada exhibition and, Kevin Amirault from the Outdoor Leadership Program and recipient of the Bill Mason Scholarship.  It was great to have a student focused theme this month! I was personally proud of these students and enjoyed learning more about the exciting accomplishments that draw attention to our incredible institution.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at , or you can join the 5,400 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.