Towards a 2012-2017 Strategic Plan: Volunteers Requested

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

I would like to thank the approximately 150 people who came to the Holiday Open House at 179 John Street on December 12th.  Last week, we also had the opportunity to say farewell to Diane Massicotte after 35 years of service at Laurentian, and to Robert Bourgeois four years after joining Laurentian. As I said in my blog posting of June 9th, I cannot emphasize enough how much Diane has had such a positive impact on our university community. She was any President’s dream Assistant, always available, reliable, proactive, knowledgeable and insightful.  Likewise, Robert was a highly valued member of the Executive Team who served with distinction as Acting President in 2008-09. He led the development of the Three Year Plan to Regain Sustainability and played a key role in drafting the business plan for the proposed Laurentian School of Architecture.  Robert was instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition when I joined the University in April 2009.

In today’s blog posting, I would like to discuss the development of Laurentian’s next strategic plan.

In June 2008, the Board of Governors approved the University’s current (2008-11) Strategic Plan.

In October 2009, the Board streamlined the content of the strategic plan from 132 to 50 strategic actions (10 which would do the most to advance national recognition, 10 which would do the most to make Laurentian the university of choice, 10 which foster strong student engagement, 10 which would enhance our responsiveness to the communities we serve, and 10 others which were strategic imperatives).  Ten performance indicators were endorsed as well to measure progress over time.

I am pleased to report that after consultation with members of Senate, the Board of Governors approved the process that will guide the formulation of the 2012-17 strategic plan for approval by the Board.  This strategic plan for 2012-17 will guide the future of the University.

The Board’s Executive Committee recommended some principles to guide the process.  The new strategic plan will focus on what will be Laurentian’s Purpose, Values, Aspirations and Results for 2012-17, building on our unique strengths and opportunities.  It must answer questions such as:

  • Why does Laurentian University exist?
  • What do we do now that is core to Laurentian?  What are our current strengths?  What do we need to put into place to build on our strengths?
  • What could we do that would be different and would be difficult to imitate elsewhere?

It must contain measurable outcomes so that progress can be monitored over the period of 2012-2017.  The new strategic plan is to be informed by the updates to the academic plan and the research plan contemplated for 2011.  The Board is mindful that the process informs the outcome and is not itself the outcome and, as such, wants the strategic plan to be focused while engaging everyone in discussions about our strategic directions for 2012-2017.  The intention is to use as much as possible existing structures and committee meetings to inform the strategic plan.

The Board also approved the scope of the next strategic plan.  It will be:

  • For the period 2012-2017;
  • No more than five pages long;
  • Focused on what will be different in five years compared to now;
  • Used as a framework (Purpose, Values, Aspirations and Results) for guiding budget decisions and program approvals;
  • Connected to the four key goals endorsed by the Board of Governors in October 2009;
  • Centred on what differentiates Laurentian from other Universities or “what Laurentian could be the first to do”;
  • Building on Laurentian’s strengths;
  • Purpose-driven, relevant and bold;
  • Ambitious and achievable;
  • Explicit about what we will do and what we will not do;
  • Measurable over time;
  • Focused on unique opportunities for all sectors of the University; and
  • A living document that is reviewed and assessed regularly (i.e., every two years).

The Board also specified that the strategic plan will not be:

  • A composite of everything we already do at Laurentian;
  • The status quo;
  • A list of every participant’s hopes and ideas;
  • An Implementation Plan;
  • Crisis-driven;
  • An exercise detached from decisions over the period from 2012-2017
  • Relevant to a few and irrelevant to many; or
  • Shelved.

The Board approved the creation of a Strategic Plan Steering Committee.  The purpose of this 24 member Steering Committee will be to ensure that:

  • A 2012-17 Strategic Plan is recommended for approval by December 2011.
  • The recommended Strategic Plan is consistent with the Scope approved today by the Board.
  • The development of the Strategic Plan is consistent with the Principles and Process approved today by the Board.

At this time, I am inviting faculty members and students interested in serving on the Steering Committee to inform the Registrar and Secretary of Senate, Ron Smith (, by January 14th.  Senate is expected to appoint at its next meeting on January 18th four faculty members and four students to the Steering Committee.

The Board’s Nominating Committee is seeking volunteers for one of the following positions:

  • 4 members of the Board of Governors;
  • 1 Vice-President;
  • 1 Dean;
  • 1 Canada Research Chair;
  • 1 member of the Leadership Group from a non-academic sector;
  • 1 support staff;
  • 1 alumnus/alumna;
  • 2 community members: one from Sudbury and one from Simcoe catchment areas;
  • Chair of LUNEC or a designate.

Interested individuals for these positions are asked to contact Dr Anne-Marie Mawhiney ( by January 14th.

The following individuals will also serve on the Steering Committee:

  • President and Vice-Chancellor (Committee Chair);
  • Vice-Provost, Simcoe;
  • Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Programs;
  • Registrar and Secretary of Senate;
  • Special Advisor to the President (supporting the Steering Committee).

The Steering Committee is expected to meet six times between February and November 2011 on the following tentative dates: February 17, April 4, May 25, August 31, September 28, November 10.  These meetings could include opportunities to receive submissions by interested parties.  The Board’s Nominating Committee will finalize the composition in January, taking into account the complementary of the skill set, gender and linguistic balance.

The Board has approved a process which includes town-hall meetings open to all, focus groups with students planned for March 28th, targeted external consultations that may be necessary with key informants and groups including alumni, consultations with universities federated with Laurentian.  A discussion paper will be developed to solicit views from the internal and external community.  Members of the Leadership Group will work with their managers and councils, committees and teams to provide input into the Strategic Plan using existing processes.  The intent is to be inclusive of all who want to participate through councils, written submissions, team meetings, town halls etc.  The Steering Committee will review submissions received throughout the process.  Submissions will be particularly encouraged before each town-hall meeting.  Senate will receive a process update in April, vote electronically in June on key issues/questions before a first draft is developed, and have the opportunity to comment on a draft in October.

As this will be my last blog posting in 2010, I wish to you and your loved ones safe and happy holidays.

As usual, I welcome comments and questions on the topics discussed in my blog postings, or any other matter that may be of concern to you. My email is:

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Merci/Thank you/Miigwech


Great Convocations and Staffing Update

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

I would like to congratulate our 1,925 graduates from our 15 Spring convocations.I was delighted to preside once again eight convocations as well as the NOSM hooding ceremony on the Sudbury campus, preside a convocation in Barrie and hand out degrees at the convocation of Northern College. Dr. Patrice Sawyer and Dr. Vincent Salyers handed out nursing degrees at Cambrian College and Sault College on my behalf. I will be handing out more degrees at St. Lawrence College on Thursday, Algoma University on Saturday and Université de Hearst on Sunday. The total travel involved for one Laurentian representative alone represents 4,200 kilometers, the equivalent of a trip from Sudbury to Los Angeles!

While this is a very intensive period for many faculty and staff members who play such a key role behind the scenes (and on it too!), I find these are the most exhilarating moments of the year. I want to thank faculty members who joined the platform party at one or more convocations to take part in these exciting events for their students.

I would also like to pay tribute in particular to the Chair of the Board of Governors, Carolyn Sinclair, and to Board member Dr. Claire Perreault – who both attended every convocation on the Sudbury campus – and to Vice Chair Floyd Laughren, Board members Julie DeSimone,Stan Pawlowicz, Bela Ravi and Ian Wood who have also attended some convocations. Their dedication to the University is truly commendable.

Staffing Update

Yesterday, I informed the Board’s Executive Committee that our esteemed Vice-President, Administration, Robert Bourgeois, will be leaving the University in February 2011, four years after joining Laurentian.Robert is a valued member of the Executive Team who served with distinction as Acting President in 2008-09.He led the development of the Three Year Plan to Regain Sustainability and played a key role in drafting the business plan for the proposed Laurentian School of Architecture.Robert was instrumental in ensuring a smooth transition as I joined the University in April 2009.Robert and Catherine plan on returning to Ottawa. I am very grateful to them for extending their journey in Greater Sudbury longer than they had originally anticipated.The recruitment process for a successor will begin immediately.

It’s also with mixed feelings that I announce that the Assistant to the President, Diane Massicotte, has informed me of her intention to retire on December 31st.Diane has recently returned from a three week leave where she helped take care of her newest grandchild in Ottawa.After over 35 years of service at Laurentian, Diane is also planning to move to Ottawa to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren.I cannot emphasize enough how much Diane has had such a positive impact on our university community. She is any President’s dream Assistant, always available, reliable, proactive, knowledgeable and insightful.

I have also informed the Board’s Executive Committee that the former Dean of the Faculty of Professional Schools, Dr. Anne-Marie Mawhiney, has agreed to postpone a sabbatical leave and serve as Special Advisor to the President, effective August 16th.As part of this assignment, she will lead the development of the University’s 2012-17 Strategic Plan, expected to articulate a select number of high-yield strategies that will enable progress against our four key goals.

Our greatest asset as a university community is our human capital.To enhance our national recognition, be the university of choice, foster student engagement and be responsive to the communities we serve, we will need to be even more effective collectively in attracting, retaining and engaging faculty and staff. Outstanding organizations are relentless in their efforts to foster continuous improvements on what are considered the top attraction, retention or engagement drivers for their employees.To inform such efforts, we will work with an outside consultant to conduct on a regular basis confidential employee satisfaction and engagement surveys, that provide a measurable baseline and help plan future efforts to improve the workplace environment.Anne-Marie will lead this project.

She will be also working with the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Patrice Sawyer, in advancing new major cross-department research initiatives to continue increasing our research intensity.

The Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Dr Robert Kerr, and I are pleased to inform you that the Executive Committee approved yesterday, on behalf of the Board of Governors, the appointment of Dr. Bernadette (Bernie) Schell as Vice-Provost.  Senate unanimously endorsed her appointment at its meeting of May 18th.  Bernadette will be based in Barrie.  She was the Founding Dean of the Faculty of Business and Information Technology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.  She previously served as a faculty member at Laurentian in Sudbury from 1978 to 2002, and demonstrated her leadership as Director of the School of Commerce and Administration and as President of the Laurentian University Faculty Association.  Bernadette is the 2000 recipient of the Laurentian University Research Excellence Award.  She has written numerous journal articles on industrial psychology and cybercrime topics. She has published seven books, four of which focus on hackers and Internet security. She is currently the President’s Advisor on Cybercrime and designer of the Centre for Cybercrime Research (CCR) at UOIT.


 The new position of Vice-Provost replaces the position of Dean, Laurentian@Georgian.  It is meant to emphasize the importance of our programs in Simcoe County and eliminate any confusion in referring to the “dean” – a position which is common both on our Sudbury campus and within Georgian College.


Robert and I want to thank Dr. Tom Gerry for his outstanding leadership as Acting Dean over the past two years.  He will be on sabbatical leave during the upcoming academic year.


On May 10th, I had the opportunity to present some of Laurentian’s successes and future plans to Barrie’s City Council. You can read my presentation here, or read the media coverage in the Barrie Advance or the Barrie Examiner.


I would also like to echo Robert’s comments in his recent communication to the university community and congratulate Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek and Lisetta Chalupiak for their respective appointments as Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Programs and Acting Director, Academic Staff Relations.  I also want to express my personal gratitude to Dr. John Isbister for his exceptional contribution to our university community over the past four years, for his unquestionable support to me as President and for his always insightful advice.  I wish him much success and happiness as Ryerson University’s new Vice-Provost, Faculty Affairs.


As usual, I welcome comments and questions on the topics discussed in my blog postings, or any other matter that may be of concern to you. My email is:


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