First Laurentian convocation in China

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

I am writing this blog having recently returned from Hangzhou, China where we celebrated on Saturday, June 18th the first 25 graduates from our unique Bachelor of Business Administration dual degree program with Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics (ZUFE).  Top accounting students from the Province of Zhejiang (population: 55 million) are admitted to this highly competitive program where students earn two degrees – one from ZUFE and one from Laurentian. Students spend 12 months in Sudbury. We welcomed the first cohort in January 2015 and the second cohort in January 2016. I invite you to watch this video which describes this very successful collaborative effort.

This was my fourth visit at ZUFE in five years. In 2013, our men’s basketball team played at ZUFE. In 2015, ZUFE reciprocated by sending their swimming team to participate in a friendly international swimming competition that we organized at Laurentian along with the University of Waterloo and the University of Ottawa.

One of the ZUFE students who graduated on Saturday is Bob Jiahui Ma. I first met him when I spent time with this first cohort in Hangzhou in 2012, and again in 2013. I was amazed by his confidence and his improving mastery of the English language. We took a picture together in 2013. In late 2014, a few weeks before his arrival in Sudbury, he emailed me his picture as a reminder of our meeting (not that I needed it because I had been so impressed by our interactions!) and he asked to meet. I was pleased to welcome him and his classmates upon their arrival in snowy Sudbury on the Sunday before classes started in January 2015. We went for coffee a few times during his time here, he came to our annual Holiday Open House at 179 John Street and he managed to publish in peer-reviewed publications as a third-year undergraduate student. Bob earned top marks at Laurentian while being very involved on campus including as Vice-President of Laurentian’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association, he and his peers volunteered at the 10th annual edition of Sudbury ROCKS!!! and he initiated on his own trips to meet Chinese diplomatic officials in Toronto and Ottawa.

I know that Sudbury families hosted some of the ZUFE students for a Thanksgiving dinner in their own homes to have them experience Canadian traditions. Bob’s father spoke on behalf of the parents of graduates during what was a very moving convocation ceremony on Saturday, which was held in the presence of the Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Shangai, Joey Zhao. Bob begins a master’s program next month in international economics at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore.

ZUFE President Xiaomin Zhong and I were pleased to hold a signing ceremony on Saturday to renew the relationship between our institutions. This partnership and Bob’s experience remind me again how international students enrich our university community, the positive impact that cross-cultural education can have for graduates, how our students – whether from Canada or China – have a world of opportunities ahead of them, even more so if they are willing to get outside of their comfort zone and become engaged on campus and in the broader community.

During this short four-day visit, I also had very productive meetings with counterparts at ZUFE and at other partner institutions, with the Deputy Director General of International Cooperation and Exchanges at the Chinese Ministry of Education, and with the Secretary-General of the China Scholarship Council. These in-depth conversations will soon translate into new exciting collaborations and opportunities for Laurentian with regards to student mobility, faculty mobility and research.

For example, there was a keen interest in enabling Laurentian students to study for a term in programs delivered in English in Chinese universities, in our capacity to assist with regional economic development in Western China and with the development of future Chinese leaders working in international organizations thanks to our English and French-language programming, in ways to support top Chinese graduate students to enroll at Laurentian, in our efforts to become the undisputed global leader in mineral exploration research, on what Sudbury can teach China about air pollution and the global lessons from the Sudbury story in terms of environmental remediation. Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting very engaged alumni in Beijing who belong to our newest and third Chinese alumni chapter.

I look forward to welcoming in September the third cohort of ZUFE students, who I also had the opportunity to meet while in Hangzhou.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or can join the 11,200 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Concluding 2015 With A Nobel Prize and A Successful Giving Tuesday!

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

I regret not having been as regular with my blog postings this Fall, and I will attempt to be more disciplined in 2016! We have had an incredibly active term. My favorite highlights include:

  • The exceptional lecture by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in front of 1,200 guests in the auditorium of the Fraser building and in two overflow rooms on campus;
  • The sunrise and groundbreaking ceremonies for the $3.4 million Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre;
  • The completion of the $7.5 million rehabilitation of the Single Student Residence and of renovations to classrooms and labs in the Alphonse-Raymond and Science buildings;
  • The buzz around Indigenous Education Week and Women’s History Week;
  • The breakfast, competition in the “bowling alley”, BBQ and holiday luncheon auction for the United Way Campaign;
  • Completing my tour of administrative departments;
  • Taking part in the Fall convocation ceremonies including the award of an honorary doctorate to Sue Johanson;
  • Joining the Laurentian University Alumni Association for its board retreat as it is developing its next strategic plan;
  • Announcing the launch of new bilingual degrees at the Bharti School of Engineering and of new specializations in French at the Faculty of Management effective 2016;
  • Hosting on campus the Greater Sudbury Business Xchange where our revised MBA program was announced;
  • Lending support at Greater Sudbury City Council for presentations on the proposed Place des Arts and Greater Sudbury Synergy Centre in the downtown core; and,
  • Hosting 400 colleagues, students, Governors, alumni and community leaders at our annual holiday open house at 179 John Street.

Two other developments were also very exciting: the flurry of awards involving the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNOLAB) and the success of Giving Tuesday.

Nobel Prize
The 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) Collaboration, represented by Queen’s University professor emeritus and SNO Project Director, Dr. Art McDonald. The $3-million prize was awarded at a ceremony hosted by comedian Seth Macfarlane at the NASA Ames Research Centre, with a one-hour version of the broadcast which aired on Fox on November 29th. I am proud to tell you that Laurentian was part of this global recognition and would like to extend a warm thank you to the many Laurentian faculty who have contributed to the SNO research, in particular, Dr. Doug Hallman, Dr. Jacques Farine, Dr. Rizwan Haq, Dr. Christine Kraus and Dr. Clarence Virtue, as well as numerous graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. Laurentian is deeply touched by your devotion to the advancement of Canadian scientific research. Congratulations to Dr. McDonald and the incredible team on this outstanding achievement!

On that note, there is this little thing called Nobel… I am so pleased to pay tribute to Dr. Art McDonald as the joint laureate of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for the research conducted on neutrinos in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNOLAB), a collaboration between Laurentian University and five other Canadian universities. The award has shone a light on the important work carried out at the SNOLAB by Canadian and international scientists over the past 17 years. The caliber of these successes are instrumental to the positive progress of Laurentian University and the development of its research aspirations, not only in the community, but also at the international level.

We already have over 700 guests who have booked their tickets on-line for the free lecture by Dr. McDonald on December 17th at 7 pm in the auditorium of the Fraser building. An overflow room has already been secured. I hope to see you there!

Giving Tuesday
First came Black Friday… then Cyber Monday… and now we have Giving Tuesday. So what is Giving Tuesday? It is a National Giving Day where charities, companies and individuals join together online to share commitments, rally for favourite causes, and think about others.

And this year, on December 1, 2015, Laurentian University jumped-in with both feet! A total of $48,208 was raised and 134 members of the University community contributed to the success of Laurentian’s first Giving Tuesday campaign with the incredible support of donors. The response to the campaign exceeded beyond expectations. The spirit of giving at Laurentian is indeed remarkable.

I am so excited to share with you that on this day, and this day only, donors doubled their impact on Laurentian students with prominent donors pledging matching amounts for student financial aid, Voyageur Athletics, and Science and Engineering equipment. All thanks to generous alumni, faculty and staff! To learn more about the excitement about Laurentian’s Giving Tuesday campaign, click here.

Our generous donors help students achieve their academic goals, allow them to outperform and reach beyond what they ever dreamed possible. Making an impact is about more than leaving a mark – it’s about touching and changing lives in a dramatic way. Lisa Ludwig, a student-award recipient, shares her inspiring story here on the meaning of giving to Laurentian students.

Did you also know that Laurentian was trending on Twitter in Canada on Giving Tuesday morning? Faculty and staff tweeted messages about their contributions to encourage colleagues to donate. Students gave thanks to donors for their support and investment. Carol McAulay, Vice-President, Administration, donated $1 for every follower of click here . Dr. Ann Pegoraro, Associate Professor in the School of Sports Administration, captured the enthusiasm of Giving Tuesday with her tweet, “Hmm what to do on Twitter today – yesterday was much fun… how to follow that up??”. I couldn’t agree more!

Oh, and by the way, Laurentian University outdid other Canadian universities. Yes, that’s right, we raised more money than the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo, as well as the University of British Columbia. I would say that Laurentian’s Giving Tuesday campaign was a huge success!

A big thank you to the Laurentian University community and its supporters on Giving Tuesday! By giving to this important initiative, not only have you invested in a student’s bright future, but you have also provided an education in the spirit of philanthropy.

I wish you a happy and safe holiday season, and thank you for your all your hard work in the past year. I look forward to reconnecting in 2016!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or can join the 10,200 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.