2013 In Review

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

It was a pleasure to see over 350 faculty, staff, students, alumni, Governors and community members at our annual Holiday Open House at 179 John Street on December 8th, and to see so many colleagues at the annual United Way fundraiser at Great Hall on December 11th and at the LUAPSA cocktail on December 12th.

With only a few days left to 2013, I wanted to summarize some of our collective accomplishments as a university community during the past year. The list certainly does not capture all the exciting developments. 

Student Satisfaction and Engagement

  • Return of men varsity hockey
  • Introduction of women varsity hockey, being ranked #2 in Canada for attendance at CIS women’s hockey games
  • Voyageurs re-branding, including the launch of a new product line
  • Opening of a new Subway on the Sudbury campus
  • Recognition of top first-year students by the Centre for Academic Excellence, 300 nominations of 40 faculty members teaching in first year, Rizwan Haq (Physics) and Suzanne Lamothe (Biology) as inaugural recipients of the Students’ Choice Teaching Awards
  • Consolidation of our Orillia programs in Barrie, enabling students to benefit from a wider course selection

 National Recognition

  • Installation of Steve Paikin as our new Chancellor
  • Launch of the Goodman School of Mines under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Jago as Founding Franco-Nevada Executive Director
  • Carling Zeeman named female Canadian Oarswoman of the Year and OUA Oarswoman of the Year, after winning Gold at the Canadian University Championships and two gold medals at the Ontario University Athletics rowing championships (including placing first with teammate Emily Jago in the women’s doubles event)
  • Appointment of Dr. Nathan Basiliko as Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology at the Vale Living With Lakes Centre
  • Received the largest Collaborative Research and Development program research grant ever awarded by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for the “Footprints” project co-led by Dr. Michael Lesher
  • Announcement of the first private sector fully funded research chair at Laurentian (IAMGOLD Research Chair in Open Pit Mining)
  • Being one of the four Canadian universities involved as collaborating funding partners of NSERC’s new Canadian Network for Aquatic Ecosystems Services (CNAES), with the first AGM held on April 29-30th at the Vale Living With Lakes Centre
  • The Thinking Extinction three day international symposium hosted by our new Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation on November 14-16th
  • The Faculty of Management held its AACSB accreditation retreat on December 13th, exploring continuous improvement ideas to attain initial accreditation, as it enters the pre-accreditation phase and begins working on writing the AACSB Standards Alignment Plan  in 2014.
  • Being ranked #2 in Twitter engagement among Canadian universities
  • Launch of phase 2 of the website

University of Choice

  • 23% increase in high school applications
  • 7% increase in non-high school undergraduate applications
  • Record numbers of applications and confirmations (high school and non high school applicants), record percentages of Ontario university applications (1.5%) and confirmations (1.9%), record percentage of Ontario university 1st choice confirmations (2.21%)
  • 9% increase in enrolment in graduate programs
  • 50,000th graduate at Fall convocation
  • Off-campus perks program launched
  • Beginning of the $7.7 million rehabilitation of the Single Student Residence

Community Responsiveness

  • Opening of the School of Architecture: I was thrilled to attend the student showcase on Saturday December 14 and saw first hand the work accomplished by our talented and engaged students from the charter class
  • Conclusion of The Next 50 Campaign which exceeded its $50 million goal by raising $65.5 million, successful campaign close events
  • Events at BMO in March and King Edward Hotel in May in Toronto for the Goodman School of Mines
  • Hiring of six additional Indigenous faculty
  • Hosting Mining Day in March, which is being held annually in rotation with Cambrian College and Collège Boréal
  • Launch of the Northern Policy Institute (NPI) under the leadership of Charles Cirtwill, who presented  to the Board of Governors on Friday, December 13th the seven NPI projects already commissioned, the nine RFPs in development and five other projects under discussion
  • Successful Laurentian Leadership Summit on October 24th-25th involving close to 200 community leaders and students

 Organizational Excellence

  • Increase on each of the 20 “employee engagement” drivers on our second biannual Have Your Say survey, with the most progress measured in: performance feedback, continuous improvement, organizational communication, team recognition and satisfaction with senior leadership⁄senior administration
  • Launch of the Northern Leadership Program involving 20 leaders from Laurentian, Health Sciences North, Science North and the City of Greater Sudbury
  • Approval by the Board in October of the new Campus Master Plan which will guide the Sudbury campus development for the next 30-50 years
  • New Dean of the Faculty of Management, Dr. Stephen Havlovic
  • Hiring of new Executive Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development, Terez Klotz and new Director of Talent Management and Organizational Development, Kate Sikerbol
  • New collective agreement with CUPE Local 5011 representing Graduate Teaching Assistants

Over the past year, Laurentian leaders have continued to play a key role provincially and nationally. Here are a few examples:

  • Dr. Roger Strasser completed his term as co-chair of the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine.
  • Dr. Patrice Sawyer chairs the Ontario Council on University Research.
  • Dr. Birgit Pianosi from Huntington chairs the Ontario Interdisciplinary Council for Aging and Health.
  • Michèle Minor-Corriveau from Orthophonie chairs the Ontario Council of University Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences.
  • I continue to co-chair the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer and the Consortium national de formation en santé, and have been appointed to the five-member Executive Committee of the Association of Canadian Universities of Colleges (AUCC) along with my peers from the University of British Columbia, the University of Manitoba, the Université de Montréal and Mount Allison University. I have been serving since 2009 on AUCC’s Standing Advisory Committee on Educational Issues and Funding and will now be serving on the Standing Advisory Committee on University Research.

Locally in Sudbury, on November 14th, the biannual Top 40 Under 40 gala was held. Once again this year, a majority of recipients are either faculty members, staff, students or alumni of the Laurentian community. Congratulations to all recipients, especially:

  • Dr. Alain Gauthier (Assistant Professor, School of Human Kinetics);
  • Dr. Alison Goodwin (Assistant Professor, School of Human Kinetics);
  • Angela Gilmore (alumna);
  • Brandon Beeson (alumnus);
  • Charlie Andrews (former President of the Students’ General Association);
  • Christina Chicoine (alumna);
  • David Joseph Anselmo (alumnus);
  • Jennifer Horgan (alumna);
  • Jean-Paul Rains (Manager, Digital Strategy);
  • Kristin Green (alumna);
  • Kristy Rousseau (Manager, Individual Gifts);
  • Marc Mortin (former employee in Advancement);
  • Megan Kolppanen (alumna);
  • Nathalie Depatie (alumna and part-time instructor, University of Sudbury);
  • Nicole Tardif (Program Coordinator, Goodman School of Mines);
  • Shannon Katary (Director of Marketing and Community Relations, Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation);
  • Dr. Stacey Ritz (Associate Professor, Northern Ontario School of Medicine);
  • Dr. Suman Koka (alumnus);
  • Tom Fenske (Biology Technologist and President, Laurentian University Staff Union);
  • Tiffany Cecchetto (part-time instructor in Accounting-Finance);
  • Tracy Horgan (Manager, Financial Planning and Analysis).

I want to thank each of you for an exceptional year. I wish you a happy and safe holiday. In my next blog posting, I will highlight some of the developments you can expect in 2014.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or you can join the 6,800 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.

Update on Employee Engagement

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

As many of you know, organizational culture and work environment are key priorities for Laurentian University as we strive to become one of Canada’s top employers. To help us understand where we are and what being a great employer means to us as an academic institution, Laurentian launched the Have Your Say employee engagement survey in 2011. This survey allows us to do two things: 1) it is a great opportunity to give (and receive) feedback, discuss the results and plan together for the future, and 2) it is a means of comparing ourselves with other organizations.  We committed to repeating the survey at two or three year intervals and I’m pleased to say that the second survey results are now available.

I would like to thank the 602 employees who took part in the 2013 Have Your Say survey.  With your input, we are able to learn about what you think is working and what you believe needs improvement – your input directly shapes our environment. A testament to this is our strategic plan, which contains several initiatives directly resulting from the 2011 survey (significant investments in professional development, LEAP, better aligning our administrative practices, and enhanced focus on organizational communications etc).

As I look at the 2013 results, I can’t help but think that we are another step closer to our Strategic Plan’s aspiration for organizational excellence: “we will be known for our positive organizational culture”.  Of the 20 key drivers of employee engagement measured, we have seen a positive increase in all 20 areas since 2011. Now, although this demonstrates positive momentum, I do want to emphasize that the evolution of Laurentian University is a journey and this is a long way from the destination.  We are listening, we are making changes, and we still have a long way to go before we “get there”.

I was very pleased to see significant improvements in the three areas of focus coming out of the 2011 survey: performance feedback (+12%), training satisfaction (+8%) and organizational communications (+11%).  These will continue to be areas that the university will focus on and invest in.  In addition to these, I believe that the administration could also add a fourth item to the priority areas for the coming period: recognition.  This is an area where in spite of the fact that there has been some progress, there is much room for improvement and as an organization we will need to focus more closely here. I know we have no shortage of people (and teams) that deserve this recognition, so developing and implementing a plan around you, needs to be at the top of the list!

On a more personal level, I was extremely pleased that there were marked improvements in the feedback from employees regarding respectful and supportive workplace. This is a foundation on which a successful society is built (let alone a university), and an area where compromises can’t be made.  We have benefitted from some wonderful conversations and education sessions over the last few years on this topic, and I look forward to continuing to focus on this issue.

In the coming weeks/months, you will be invited to a variety of discussions related to the survey feedback:

From August 29 until September 27 discussions will be taking place within each unit.  We are asking you to review the results, discuss what is important to you and prioritize which areas that you would like to see focused on.  Each of us has a role to play in creating a positive organizational culture at Laurentian and I hope that you will all take this opportunity and  engage in these discussions.

On October 11th the Leadership Group will review priorities from each unit in order to shape and develop employee engagement performance goals.

Thank you again for your continued commitment to Laurentian and your willingness to have these discussions – we’ll never be the organization we aspire to be without each of you!

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.