Celebrating Excellence – Part II

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

There’ve been so many extraordinary accomplishments within our Laurentian community of late! Indeed, I would like to devote a second blog post to the achievements of our students, faculty and staff, under the heading “Celebrating Excellence.”

In the past few weeks, vice-presidents and I have had the pleasure of meeting with faculty and staff members from Commerce, English, History, Human Kinetics, Information Technology, Liaison and Social Work. These weekly conversations over coffee provide the opportunity to stay close to faculty and staff’s perspectives, concerns and suggestions. These sessions are becoming the highlight of my weeks because I find them very informative and engaging.

Since my last blog, we have also concluded our 17 budget consultation sessions. I would like to thank the 150 people from across the University who took part in these sessions in Sudbury and Barrie. Your input is important and these sessions allowed everyone to become more involved and informed.

Several members of our faculty have distinguished themselves recently with significant research funding awards.  Notably, Dr. Michael Lesher, Professor of Economic Geology and Research Chair in Mineral Exploration, played a central role in securing the largest grant ever awarded by the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council (NSERC) under its Collaborative Research and Development program. Dr. Lesher is the official grant-holder for this $5.1M award from NSERC. The research is being co-led by Dr. Lesher and by Dr. Mark Hannington of the University of Ottawa, along with colleagues from more than 20 other Canadian universities.  The unique aspect of this geo-science research initiative is that Canadian mining and mineral exploration companies are contributing close to $7M in cash and in-kind to support the research.  “Footprints” is intended to provide geologists the next generation of high-tech tools to identify the subtle markers or “footprints” of ore deposits far beneath the surface, to accelerate the discovery of new mineral resources. A hearty round of applause for Mike Lesher and the many others who have contributed to this extraordinary outcome!

Congratulations also go out to Dr. Frank Mallory, former Chair of the Department of Biology and now visiting Professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Khon Kaen University in Thailand.  Dr. Mallory has been awarded funding under the Stars in Global Health program through Grand Challenges Canada.  Dr. Mallory and his Thai colleagues will lead a community-based “Health Watch Network” in Northeastern Thailand, intended to improve the reporting rates of water-borne communicable disease.

It was only three minutes, but it was a big competition for a couple of Laurentian students who performed very well at the Ontario 3MT Competition held recently at Queen’s University in Kingston. The 3MT competition requires graduate students to present their research in a compelling but understandable format – using only one slide to illustrate their work, and describing the material in three minutes or less.  Congratulations to Jason Corcoran and to Sean Thomas, who made it to the finals of this prestigious competition. If you would like to see for yourself how they did, here are the respective links to Jason’s and to Sean’s presentations.

We have had the opportunity to also celebrate research excellence of our Francophone faculty and graduate students during the 20th edition of the “Journée des Sciences et Savoirs” of ACFAS-Sudbury held on the Sudbury campus on April 8-10th for which I had the pleasure of attending the opening lecture by Steven Guilbeault. Congratulations to the Chair of the Board of ACFAS-Sudbury, Dr. John Jairo Marin Tamayo from the École des sciences de l’éducation, and the many other volunteers who have contributed to the success of this 20th edition!

Laurentian was proud to be the title sponsor of the 2nd edition of Ignite Barrie at The Creative Space (where our project office is located) on April 12th. At that occasion, participants were given the opportunity to have a sneak preview of a video featuring many community leaders including Mayor Jeff Lehman promoting the urgent need to move forward with the downtown Barrie campus.

The next two days, on April 13-14th, the Sudbury campus celebrated the scientific excellence of students enrolled in grades 7-12 in local school boards as we were proud hosts again of the Sudbury Regional Science Fair. A sincere thank you to the many faculty and staff who once again volunteered their time and expertise for this important annual event. It’s always a privilege for me to interact with participants – our future students – and to take part in the closing ceremony.

On May 1st, our colleagues from the Vale With Lakes Centre held “Science for a Changing North III”. I was pleased once again this year to host the first plenary session and meet so many colleagues from across the country who share our commitment to “clean water now and forever” articulated in our 2012-17 Strategic Plan, reflecting our desired outcome to establish Laurentian world-wide as the University synonymous with fresh water research through the Vale Living With Lakes Centre.

I would also like to congratulate Dr. Peter Kaiser from the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) who will receive on May 28th in Montreal the Julian C. Smith Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) for his achievements in the development of Canada. This is one of five senior medals awarded annually by the EIC to members of its technical societies, and they constitute their highest distinctions.

A tremendous vote of thanks goes to the exceptional team of people who have worked so hard to make The Next 50 Campaign a resounding success.  On March 27th and 28th, we announced the official ‘wind-up’ of this historic fund-raising campaign that was launched in support of the University’s strategic directions.

At the outset, many of you will remember that the fund-raising objective of $50M was considered to be more than a little ambitious – some people might have even called it unrealistic.  However, the dedicated work of our team in Advancement, along with a host of volunteers who served on the fundraising cabinet, and the overwhelming generosity of individuals and private companies who believe in the Laurentian vision all proved the skeptics wrong.

We not only met our goal, but exceeded it, with an impressive campaign total of $65.2M. More than half of our total was raised outside the Greater Sudbury area; this demonstrates that the strategic directions and aspirations expressed by Laurentian have been embraced and endorsed by a broad base of supporters, far beyond our region. The proceeds of our Next 50 Campaign have already helped to realize many of our ambitions for the University community: enhanced student bursaries, scholarships and graduate fellowships; expansion of the Ben Avery facility; launch of the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation; and the opening of the Vale Living With Lakes Centre and of the Centre for Academic Excellence. Proceeds will also support our future plans for: the Bharti School of Engineering; the Goodman School of Mines; the School of Architecture; the upcoming construction of the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre; the modernization of classrooms for the Faculty of Management; varsity hockey; occupational health and safety research; and sustainable northern economic development.

Of course, as I’ve told our Advancement team:  the campaign may be over – but the fund-raising doesn’t need to end! We have now embarked in the “silent phase” of our next fundraising campaign. I strongly encourage you to take a moment to view this 8 minutes video celebrating the success of The Next 50 Campaign.

These many examples of excellence at Laurentian make my role quite easy when I am asked to talk about recent accomplishments of our University community, as I did recently as opening plenary speaker for the Ontario Universities’ Regional Dialogue with local guidance counselors on April 30th and at Indspire’s “Soaring Career Conference: Motivating Indigenous High School Students to New Heights” involving 400 local Indigenous students,  or when greeting incoming students and their parents (as we did for Starting Point in Sudbury on May 4th or in Barrie on May 11th).

In our continuing pursuit of excellence, I would like to encourage all faculty and staff to take a few moments to complete the Have Your Say Survey. It’s our people that make this an organization and I think it’s important to find out where we are, how we have improved collectively in the past two years thanks in part to the 2011 Have Your Say survey and where we need to continue to work together. I thank the 96 faculty and 155 staff members who completed the survey in its first week – the deadline to submit your answers is May 17th. If you have not done so, please view this 4 minutes video on the importance of this survey, which features clips from Lise Dutrisac (President, LUAPSA), Tom Fenske (President, LUSU) and myself. We want to hear from all faculty and staff! For more information please go to intranet.laurentian.ca and click on Have Your Say.

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 5,600 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.

Employee Engagement in Action

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

Since my last blog posting, Dr. Patrice Sawyer (Vice-President, Research and Francophone Affairs), Bernard Beaulieu (Executive Director, Human Resources and Organizational Development) and I had the opportunity to have breakfast or coffee with 12 more faculty and staff members from Accessibility Services, Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Commerce, History, Human Resources and Organizational Development, Liaison, Midwifery, Music, Native Human Services, Psychology, Sciences de l’éducation.  I value these conversations with colleagues, and find them to be effective in continuing to improve organizational communication.

I want to thank Dr. Yves Alarie, Dr. Elizabeth Wenghofer, Dr. Hoi Cheu, Dr. David Pearson and students from the Science Communication graduate program Tanis Mercer and Alexander Johnston, and Lise Dutrisac for their engaging presentations at this month’s Laurentian Soapbox held on February 21 in the lobby of the Fraser building.  Once again, I received a lot of positive feedback from faculty and staff who attended.  Some, who attended for the first time, were thrilled to hear such inspiring stories and developments from colleagues and to have the opportunity to socialize afterwards. Our next monthly Soapbox is scheduled for Thursday, March 21 at 3pm at the Pub Down Under. If you are a faculty or staff member and haven’t had the chance to attend a Laurentian Soapbox, I strongly encourage you to do so! 

Budget Consultations for 2013-2014 and Beyond

Two budget consultations on the Sudbury campus were also held earlier this week with staff.  There were over 150 colleagues who attended. These staff budget consultations were introduced last year as a follow up to the Have Your Say 2011 survey, when staff expressed interest in knowing more about the University’s budget and wanting to have a greater say in resourcing directions for the coming years. I want to thank colleagues who took time to learn more about the 2013-2014 draft budget which includes revenue and expenditure assumptions for five subsequent fiscal years.  The consultation document is on the Intranet, under Administrative Departments – Financial Services – Documents – Budget.

Eleven more budget consultations are planned before the end of March with Faculty/Library Councils, Senate, LUNEC, the LUFA Executive, Barrie faculty/staff and Barrie students.

If you have any questions or comments for this process, please contact Normand Lavallée, Executive Director of Financial Services, at nlavallee@laurentian.ca or at extension 3047.

Staff Professional Development

Another area identified for improvement by staff in the Have Your Say 2011 survey was the need to offer more professional development and training opportunities to staff. Once again, this input was taken seriously and was reflected in the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan as a fifth key goal was added for Organizational Excellence, including a specific outcome to “Ensure ongoing staff development, second language training, leadership mentoring, and succession planning.”

As a result, the University’s budget now includes the equivalent of 1% of staff payroll earmarked exclusively on an annual and ongoing basis for staff professional development and training. This represents an incremental investment of $1.8 million by 2017-18 in our staff. These budgets are decentralized in departments, although Directors are anxious to partner with other departments to get maximum value for their professional development dollars, and will be using the results of the professional development survey located on the Intranet site, to collaborate with colleagues to have the broadest and most relevant PD offerings. All staff members should have already been informed of this survey by their supervisor, if not, I ask you to raise the topic with your supervisor. The survey asks staff what they require to be more effective in their current position, what additional training would prepare them for future career opportunities here at Laurentian, what were the success factors of the best training they had in the past (and how they can be duplicated), what are the preferred delivery methods for professional development, and to rank in importance 23 potential topics for professional development.

I want to thank the 152 colleagues who have completed the survey so far. The deadline is 4:30p.m. on March 1, 2013.  I am always pleased to hear from staff about the additional professional development and training that they have had access to in the past few months, recognizing that more can and will be done in this regard.  This staff survey will be extremely useful in this regard to make sure that the upcoming $1.8 million investment is used in the most effective way to have the maximum positive impact for staff.  More importantly, what matters is that each staff member and supervisor have a candid conversation about areas of strength and areas of development, and supports currently available – or to be made available in the future – to enable staff to fully develop their potential.  That was another key take-away from the Have Your Say 2011 survey on faculty and staff engagement.

If you have any questions or comments on this matter, please contact Julie Lacroix in Human Resources and Organizational Development at jlacroix@laurentian.ca or extension 3021.  Julie is now assigned full-time to ensure the successful implementation of the staff development and training outcome identified in the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan.

Last Faculty Consultation on Campus Modernization 

Another area identified by faculty and staff in the Have Your Say 2011 survey requiring immediate improvement, was the need to improve classroom space and gathering spaces. This input was also taken seriously and was equally reflected in the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan.

Over the past three months, over 20 consultation sessions have been held on the Sudbury campus to inform our future $35 million campus modernization project.  These began with members of the Leadership Group, chairs of academic departments and school directors with a “kickoff charette” on November 30th, and were led by the consultants for the project, Diamond Schmitt Architects, and colleagues from Capital Projects.  These consultations included sessions with Faculty Councils, Information Technology, the Schools of Social Work, Human Kinetics, Commerce and Sports Administration, the SGA, the AEF, the GSA and LAMPS, the Registrar’s office, Printing Services and Conference/Event Services, a staff forum and the Executive Team.  This process is overseen by a Campus Modernization Steering Committee which includes 18 members from each Faculty, staff, all student groups, the champion of each of the four related Strategic Plan outcomes, Physical Plant and Capital Projects and is chaired by Vice-President Administration, Carol McAulay.

Over the next few weeks, the Campus Modernization Steering Committee will advise the Executive Team on the recommendations to bring forward to the Board of Governors’ Property Development and Planning Committee on May 28th.  This $35 million project aims at implementing five specific outcomes identified in the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan:

  • Classrooms designed flexibly to accommodate diverse teaching and learning styles;
  • A “front door/welcoming centre”;
  • “One-stop” student services, leveraging state-of-the-art technology, that are seamless across our two campuses and respond to student needs;
  • Dynamic student experiences in new social spaces that nurture a strong sense of community and belonging;
  • Enhanced gathering spaces for faculty, staff, graduate students and alumni.

A consultation session is scheduled for all faculty members on March 1 from 1:30pm until 3:30pm at the lower auditorium of the Fraser building.

I want to thank the many colleagues and students who got involved in this important exercise, and encourage faculty members to attend this last consultation.

If you have any questions or comments about this process, please contact Brad Parkes, Director of Capital Projects, at bparkes@laurentian.ca or extension 1550.

Whether we’re talking about organizational communication, staff involvement in future budget decisions of the University, professional development and training for staff, improving teaching and research space – all areas that matter for faculty and staff engagement – I am proud of the improvements we have made together in the past few years, and of the processes we have put in place for the future. Our University will continue to thrive with the active engagement of all faculty and staff.

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 5,200 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.