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.


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