Convocation, Multi-year budget, 2014-15 major moments

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

As the 2014-2015 academic year comes to an end, it is a good time to take stock of the successes and accomplishments we have celebrated at Laurentian University. I would like to acknowledge students, staff and faculty for their many contributions. We have seen many achievements over the past year, and even in the midst of the of our massive Sudbury campus modernization program, we have managed to keep moving ahead and meeting our goals.

Convocation and Honourary Doctorates
We were proud to see 2,050 students graduate this spring with a total of 17 Convocation Ceremonies. This is a special time of year, when we celebrate our students’ successes and share their joy with proud parents and loved ones. Spring Convocation 2015 also saw Honourary Doctorates awarded to six distinguished Canadians: Craig Kielburger, New York Times bestselling author and co-founder of Free The Children; Susan Aglukark, 3-time Juno Award winner and social activist; Jean-Marc Aubin, long-time advocate for the education rights of Francophones; Marguerite Andersen, novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist; Peter Crossgrove, accomplished business leader and humanitarian; Master-builder and World Master of Contemporary Architecture, Douglas Cardinal. If you haven’t seen it yet, please read Chancellor Steve Paikin’s blog about our inspiring Laurentian graduates. You can also hear Steve in an interview with CBC Radio in which he talks about the busy job of being Laurentian University’s Chancellor. Already looking forward to Fall Convocation 2015!

2015-16 Budget
After 17 consultation sessions held in April with the Laurentian community in Sudbury and Barrie, the Board of Governors unanimously approved on June 19th the 2015-2016 operating budget of $147.7 million. This marks the fifth consecutive year the University has achieved a balanced budget. The budget represents a $7 million increase over last year to fund key areas of priority for the University in capital projects, research, student services, graduate studies and information technology. We have built a solid foundation to support the outcomes of the Strategic Plan and we are well-positioned to move forward with a balanced and strategically-focused growth plan that responds to the needs of the communities we serve today and in the future.

Thank you to those who participated in the consultation sessions, we value your thoughts and ideas. I would also like to acknowledge the Budget Committee and the Financial Services Department for their hard work and dedication throughout this important process. We have a lot of exciting developments to look forward to in the coming year!

The Laurentian University Alumni Association’s (LUAA) AGM
On June 1st, I had the pleasure of participating at the LUAA Annual General Meeting. Congratulations to outgoing president Diane Côté-Mihalek who did an exceptional job. Under her leadership, Laurentian saw greater alumni engagement, impressive accomplishments and an association with a strong financial position reinvesting in our university community. Thank you to Andrew Battistoni, Blaine Smith and Todd Frawley who are completing their terms on the LUAA board, to Robert Lemay and Alex Tétreault who represented the faculty and students. Congratulations to new members of the board: Megan Houle, Adam Cecchetto, Roberta Bald, and Hugo Chen who will represent the sections of Shanghai and Beijing, as well as the new President Brandon Beeson. Thank you to the rest of the Board of Directors. The impact of the LUAA has been tremendously positive and its momentum is shown by the fact that its nominating committee had received 40 appointments to fill three vacancies on the LUAA board. Bravo!

Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference
On May 30th we were pleased to host the delegation from the Governor General’s Leadership Conference 2015. We welcomed the group at the Living with Lakes Centre. Dr. Terrance Galvin, Dr. John Gunn and I spoke to these outstanding leaders about Laurentian’s areas of research strength and the University’s role in innovation and leadership in the communities we serve. It was an excellent opportunity to meet with these persons of influence from across the country, who reported back to the Governor General on their meetings and their findings.

2015 FISU Games
Laurentian University will be represented at the 2015 International University Sports Federation (FISU) Games in Gwangju, South Korea from July 3, 2015 – July 14, 2015. OUA Rowing Champion, CURC silver medalist and Laurentian’s Female Athlete of the Year Emily Jago will represent Team Canada, competing in the women’s four without coxswain. Heats for the regatta begin July 5th. Voyageurs Rowing head coach Dr. Amanda Schweinbenz was selected as the men’s coach for three separate boats, including the lightweight men’s four without coxswain, the men’s double sculls, and the men’s pair. As well, Shawn Swords, head coach of the men’s basketball team, has been named as an assistant coach for Team Canada. This will be Swords’ second FISU Coaching stint; he led the Canadians to a fourth-place finish in Kazan, Russia in 2013. You can find the complete FISU Games schedule and cheer on our athletes and coaches here.

Barrie Update
In May we learned that Laurentian’s proposal for a stand-alone campus in Barrie as part of the Major Capacity Expansion (MCE) process will not be approved for funding at this time. Since then, the University met with the City of Barrie who reaffirmed its commitment and support of Laurentian’s presence in Barrie. We also had the opportunity to meet with the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities who provided a technical briefing to the University about our proposal. The briefing was very transparent and forthcoming and we hope that in months to come we will be able to provide a sustainable long-term solution for Barrie. We continue our normal operations in Barrie while exploring the University’s options to deliver outstanding new programs in the future. We look forward to welcoming our incoming fall cohort in September, and we will be updating you on the Barrie project in the months ahead.

Yearly Recap

As another busy academic year comes to a close, I would like to recap some of the major moments at Laurentian over the past year:

  • Laurentian University climbed four spots in Maclean’s University rankings and is now in the Top 10 of all Canadian universities in the primarily undergraduate category;
  • Laurentian graduates have attained the highest post-graduation employment rates in Ontario at 92.6% after 6 months, for an impressive fourth consecutive year;
  • Our Bharti School of Engineering made history as both the Junior and Senior design teams won at the 2015 Canadian Engineering Competition;
  • Enrolment increased in Sudbury by close to 200 students, while continuing to increase the average entry grade from 79% in 2008 to 82% today;
  • The University was awarded an additional Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in recognition of its growing share of tri-council funding nationally;
  • The new Great Hall was unveiled with the launch of the Fresh Food Company;
  • The new facility for the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) was opened, and Dr. Tammy Eger was appointed as Research Chair;
  • The new Speech and Language University Clinic opened;
  • The University’s designation under Ontario’s French Language Services Act took effect;
  • New bilingual degrees in Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Mining Engineering were approved and will be introduced in Fall 2016;
  • A very successful and energizing two-day all-employee symposium “Connections 2015” was held in May;
  • Voyageurs men’s hockey returned to the playoffs after 15 years;
  • Senate unanimously approved a new 2015-2018 Academic Plan;
  • First-year rower Curtis Halladay set a new world record in the men’s 1000m Legs, Trunk and Arms Physical Disability event, as the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships;
  • The Vale Living With Lakes Centre honoured with two prestigious awards from the Ontario Association of Architects;
  • Dr. Pamela Toulouse from the School of Education was honoured as one of this year’s 3M National Teaching Fellows;
  • The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) has honoured Dr. Dean Millar of the Bharti School of Engineering and MIRARCO as a Distinguished Lecturer;
  • Third year nursing student Joel Maziarski received the 2015 Excellence in Professional Nursing Practice at the Undergraduate Student Level Award;
  • Phase 2 of the School of Architecture is well underway with impressive cross-laminated timber panels;
  • And, last but not least, we balanced our budget for the fifth consecutive year.

We have much to look forward to in September. I wish you all a happy and safe summer. Thank you for your continued dedication and commitment to making Laurentian a university of choice.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or you can join the 9,600 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.

Fast Pace of Activity This Fall

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

Temperatures are dropping and leaves are turning colour in Greater Sudbury and Barrie. Thankfully, we have the fast pace of activity at Laurentian to keep us warm!

I am humbled by the vote of confidence from the Presidential Evaluation Committee, composed of 10 members of the Board of Governors and two faculty members representing Senate, which unanimously recommended to the Board of Governors the renewal of my first five-year term until June 30, 2019, a recommendation which was also unanimously approved by the Board on October 18th.

It’s a profound privilege to be leading our university community. I very much look forward to the coming years as, together, we continue to build on the University’s momentum.

On October 18th, the Board of Governors also held a reception which was very well attended by community leaders in Barrie, including representatives from the City, school boards, Georgian College and local businesses. Mayor Jeff Lehman and MPP Rod Jackson seized the opportunity to reaffirm their strong support for our plans for a Laurentian University campus in downtown Barrie.


Joint Degree with Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics

Immediately after the meeting of the Board of Governors, I left for China for a three day blitz of meetings in Shangai and Hangzhou with the Dean of the Faculty of Management, Dr. Peter Luk. We ratified the agreement surrounding the new program approved by Senate in the spring, which consists of a dual degree of the Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics (ZUFE) and Laurentian. Located in Hangzhou, the capital of the province of Zhejiang, ZUFE serves over 20,000 students and offers four national specialty programs in accounting, finance, public finance and economics. ZUFE houses the #1 School of Accounting in Zhejiang province, serving 3,000 top students from this province with a population of 54 million. Under this new innovative program, students will complete their first two years of studies in Hangzhou, followed by 12 months of full-time courses in marketing, human resources, operations, strategy and venture, in a new distinct cohort in Greater Sudbury starting in January 2015. The Globe and Mail featured a story on this new program.

On October 27th, we held two fall convocations at the Sudbury campus honoring the accomplishments of 478 graduates. I want to thank Board members, faculty and staff who attended these special ceremonies.


Recruitment of Next Chancellor

Now that the Presidential Review has been completed, the Board of Governors will direct its attention to the recruitment of our next Chancellor. Mrs. Aline Chrétien’s three-year appointment will be ending next summer. She has been a wonderful ambassador for our university community and has set the bar high for her successors. Please take a moment to review the profile of the voluntary position of Chancellor and email by Friday, November 16th to Tom Zsolnay, Executive Director of Advancement ( any suggestions you may have of potential candidates to serve as our next Chancellor.


School of Architecture

On September 21st, we celebrated a $5-million dollar investment by the federal government’s regional economic development program FedNor for the capital costs of the School of Architecture. With this announcement, we have secured 97% of the funding for the $42.6 million required to cover the capital costs. The Board of Governors approved on October 18th the final schematic designs of phase 1 (the renovations to the Market Square building and to the second storey of the CP Telegraph building) and of phase 2 (the new building to be erected on the remainder of the site). You may view a digital model fly through of the facilities here. Eight candidates for faculty positions have been short-listed, and each has had an opportunity to deliver a public talk. This is an exciting milestone for the school and a tremendous way to get involved with Architecture in our community.

Based on current trends in other Ontario schools of architecture, we can expect about 11 applicants per space available in the architecture program. The majority of them will not be admitted to any of Ontario’s now five schools of architecture.  This will create an exciting opportunity for us to nurture an excellent relationship with these applicants during the admission process, so that those who are not admitted consider an alternative offer in arts and science. Similarly, the 70 students who will be admitted annually will be taking electives in arts and science.


Student Recruitment

The Ontario Universities Fair (OUF) took place in Toronto September 27 until the 29th drawing more than 118,000 students, parents, and educators.  I would like to thank the record delegation of 107 faculty, staff, students and alumni who represented the University with so much energy and passion. Once again Laurentian stood out in the crowd, although this time quite literally.  Laurentian University students broke out in a flash mob outside the Metro Convention Centre on Friday morning attracting spectators who were on their way into the fair.  I would like to thank all of our Laurentian volunteers who attended this show and passionately represented the dynamic growing institution that we are!  Your energy and commitment was certainly a point of pride for all.  I would like to thank members of our Alumni Association who graciously joined us at the fair this year – I personally received many accolades from students and parents who had the opportunity to speak with you.  You continue to make us proud! Over 1,800 potential applicants registered with us during those three days.

Justin Lemieux, a Laurentian alumnus who previously served as Manager of Academic Partnerships and Recruitment at Collège Boréal, has been appointed in the newly created position of Director of Student Recruitment as we intensify our efforts in this critical area. Justin is very involved in the community on various committees and boards of directors such as the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario, ACFO du Grand Sudbury and Club Richelieu Les Patriotes de Sudbury.

Staff from the Liaison team has been very busy visiting over 400 high schools, and interacting with potential applicants and their parents at 80 regional sessions across the province.


Higher Average Entry Grades

Data for students entering Laurentian this year shows a continuing upward trend in average entry grades, having risen annually since 2008 from 79% to 81% this year. Since 2008, the number of incoming students with an average entry grade of 90% or more increased by 90 percent, the number of incoming students with an average entry grade of 85% or more increased by 56 percent, while the number of incoming students with an average entry grade of 75% or less declined by 20 percent.

This is very positive evidence that we are fulfilling the aspiration in our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan that Laurentian be a first choice destination with a reputation for academic excellence and opportunity, attracting the best students, staff, and faculty from across Canada and around the world. Our target in the Strategic Plan is to continue to increase the average entry grade to 83% by 2017.


Faculty Renewal

Over the past few weeks, I have heard concerns about the lack of faculty renewal in some departments, especially in Social Sciences and Humanities. I would like to remind colleagues that while the University has had to make difficult choices since 2008-2009, we still have today 82.5 more full-time faculty positions than 10 years ago. Every academic department or school has more faculty positions than in 2002-2003, except eight. Of these eight departments belonging to four faculties, five saw an enrolment increase during the period, while three saw an enrolment decline during the period.

Senate approved in February 2011 the Academic Plan which states the five criteria which shall inform the Deans’ recommendations for new or replacement staffing. Our multi-year budget until 2017-2018, presented to Senate in May and approved by the Board of Governors in June, contemplates by 2017-2018, 13 faculty hirings in social sciences and humanities including three research chairs, 11 faculty hirings in management to support the AACSB accreditation, five faculty hirings in professional schools, no faculty hirings in science and engineering, 17 faculty hirings in architecture (fully funded by the incremental tuition and provincial grants generated by this new program and not from existing programs), with 28 more faculty hirings to be determined between now and 2017-2018.


New Spaces

As outlined in our Strategic Plan, Laurentian is committed to expanding its food service options on the Sudbury campus. Two new destinations officially opened in two distinct “neighbourhoods” on campus. At the east end of campus, on the ground floor of our beautiful new residence building, the Bistro offers a range of fresh food choices, including salads and Panini grilled sandwiches.  The Bistro provides a truly charming ambience with numerous cafe tables, leather chairs, a “flat-screen” fireplace and HDTV.  At the western edge of the campus, in the Rotunda of the Library, the new Starbucks provides more seating for lounging and socializing – 36 spaces.  Four new study rooms have been created for students, just behind the coffee bar, accommodating four students each, and there is a new study lounge upstairs to accommodate more than 20 people.  All in all, we’ve come a long way toward meeting the demand for enhanced food and beverage options and more welcoming social spaces on campus.  And we’re not finished yet.  More changes are coming to food services at Laurentian: stay tuned.


Laurentian in the News

We are always proud to see members of the Laurentian community recognized in the media.  I was particularly impressed to hear several Laurentian stories highlighted in a recent series on CBC Radio, called “Confronting Cancer.”  Among the people featured in this week-long series were Laurentian Voyageur’s Men’s Basketball Coach Shawn Swords, PhD student Cindy Peltier, Dr. Amadeo Parissenti (Biology), and Tannys Laughren of the Northern Cancer Foundation.

Congratulations to Dr. Gerardo Ulibarri (Chemistry) whose research and invention of mosquito traps to reduce West Nile Virus made national headlines.

Laurentian’s excellence in sports administration and mining was featured in two recent stories in the National Post. Dr. Ramesh Subramanian, Director of the Bharti School of Engineering, also had exciting developments to share upon his return from the MINExpo as to the attractiveness abroad of our graduate programs.

The Globe and Mail began on October 6th a two-week special series on higher education, with an editorial signing the praise of our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. The announcement on October 15th of a historic naming gift by the Goodman family towards our new School of Mines also attracted the Globe and Mail’s attention. The webcast of the announcement can be viewed here, including a passionate two minute tribute by the Honorable Glen Murray, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Other Globe and Mail features of Laurentian included what’s the one thing every graduate student should know and how students learn.

Many colleagues continue to provide insightful commentary on current affairs from various disciplines, including Jean-Charles Cachon, Dr. Reuben Roth and Dr. Robert Schinke (two stories from La Presse and from Radio-Canada International).  Dr. Sandra Dorman and Dr. Céline Boudreau-Larivière published a new booklet to educate employers about pregnant mining workers.


Submission to inform a future Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA)

I invite you to review the submission forwarded by the University to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to inform a future SMA with the province. The Ministry and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) will review the submission of each college and university by February. You may learn more here about this process and about the submissions from other institutions.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at, or you can join the 4,600 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.