Campus Modernization Breathes New Life to our Campus

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

I mentioned in an earlier blog that 2016 featured the Summer and the Fall to remember. Well 2016 can also be remembered as another year of construction at Laurentian. There is more work to be done, but let’s take a moment to consider how far we have come. Work has been completed on the Executive Learning Centre, the University Club, the new dining facility at Alphonse Raymond, the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Unit Laboratory, the new bookstore, MyLaurentian Hub, new space for University Advancement and Accessibility Services, the McEwen School of Architecture, the Ben Avery Human Kinetics Laboratories and the expansion of Parking Lot #4.

Construction continues in 2017, but this year we will finish work on the RD Parker Building renovations. That includes the new Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre, the new Multi-Faith Prayer Space, as well as the new home for Liaison, Laurentian International, the Graduate Students’ Association and the Laurentian Association of Mature and Part-Time Students. We expect that work will be completed in the Spring. The remainder of the RD Parker renovation project, which includes the new Welcome Centre Atrium and a variety of study spaces that connect the RD Parker to the Dining facility, will be completed in the late spring or very early summer. We look forward to closing this chapter of the Campus Modernization project and restoring normal access to facilities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your patience and cooperation during the many phases of the project.

You have likely noticed the sudden change in landscape behind the Fraser building or heard the multiple blast horn signals and the blasting. I’m happy to say that the construction of the new Cliff Fielding Research, Innovation and Engineering Building is well underway. Mass rock excavation is almost finished and building the foundation is set to start soon. This is another important and interesting project to keep track of, and in the next month, a live time-lapse camera will be installed so you can monitor the progress live from your computers or mobile devices (we’ll be sure to get you the URL once enabled!). This project will be in construction mode for the entire year and will be completed in 2018. The path leading from parking lot #15 (…The Pit) to the campus will continue to be available, however you can expect detours throughout various phases of construction this year. Keep an eye out for project update emails delivered by capitalprojects@laurentian.ca. You can also email any questions or comments you might have for the team at this address.

Finally, in terms of capital projects, the Students’ General Association (SGA) held a referendum in March of 2014 in which the majority of the members voted to fund the construction of a new Student Centre. The University is working closely with the SGA and will be retaining the project architect in the near future. The architects, in partnership with the SGA, will conduct a thorough consultation process with its members in order to ensure it meets the needs of students. This is a project for the students, by the students. After receiving input, we will present a building design to the community in the Fall when students return for classes. The new Student Centre will be located at the intersection of University Road next to West Residence. Stay tuned!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.

Looking Ahead To 2014

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

I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable, peaceful and safe holiday. I would like to wish you health, success and happiness for the New Year!

As promised in my last blog posting, here are some highlights of what promises to be another exciting year at Laurentian.

My New Year’s resolution is to undertake a tour of the University’s 35 academic departments and schools, Barrie included, between now and June. Last year, one of the means I adopted to keep in touch with faculty and staff was to hold weekly breakfasts with colleagues. I look forward to discussing the University’s strategic directions and post-secondary education landscape, and hearing firsthand about your recent accomplishments and innovations, challenges and aspirations.

  • By the end of January, we will respond to a provincial call for proposals to expand French-language post-secondary education in the Greater Toronto Area in selected disciplines.
  • In April the Board of Governors will review the Comprehensive Business Plan for our Barrie campus, in preparation for the call for proposals for new satellite campuses announced by the Ontario government in the last Fall Economic Statement. It will also award the contract for Phase 2 of the School of Architecture, which will begin in March for completion by fall 2015.
  • The Regroupement des étudiants franco-ontariens (RÉFO) will be holding the États généraux sur le postsecondaire en Ontario français on February 22nd-23rd in Toronto, with the aim of articulating its aspirations for French-language post-secondary education in Ontario by 2025.
  • We expect a first Strategic Mandate Agreement (for a three-year period from 2014-2015 to 2016-2017) to be signed with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities by March 31st. This SMA will be informed byOntario’s Differentiation Policy Framework for Postsecondary Education released by the Ministry in November.
  • The University will complete recruitment processes for a number of key positions including Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, University Librarian, as well as Registrar and Secretary of Senate.
  • As per my performance goals for the current year, we will present to the Board of Governors in April an implementation plan to increase graduate enrolment from 378 full-time equivalent (FTE) in 2011-2012 to 675 FTE in 2018-2019.
  • In the coming months, we will also investigate changes in education fueled by technology, and report back to the Board in June.  Included in the report will be best practices and innovations in coming to grips with changes in how students learn and communicate in the digital world.  It will outline any opportunities we may find in leveraging Laurentian’s content and pedagogy to be a leader in distance and digital education where compatible with our values, beliefs and strategic directions.
  • The Canadian Association of Physicists will hold its annual congress on the Sudbury campus on June 16th-20th.
  • A new collective agreement will be negotiated with the Laurentian University Faculty Association, as the current one expires on June 30th. Equal cost-sharing of pension plan costs by 2018 (72% of costs are currently paid by the University, 28% are paid by employees) is expected to be a key topic for the upcoming collective bargaining process.
  • By June, The Goodman School of Mines will support the introduction of six new mining-related minors or majors which may be offered as early as September 2014 for returning students or September 2015 for new students, as well as the delivery of a cumulative 6,000 person-hours of non-credit modular or executive programs including two courses available and marketed online worldwide featuring leading-edge interactive capabilities.
  • The University will welcome new research chairs in Open Pit Mining, Occupational Health and Safety and Sustainable Northern Economic Development.
  • Great Hall will be significantly renovated this spring and summer, to support improved food offerings (Fresh Food Co.) and extended hours.
  • Two new masters’ programs will be launched in September in Indigenous Relations and Sciences infirmières.
  • This fall, the University will award the contract and begin work for the $44.6 million Sudbury Campus modernization to be completed in phases by 2016, including the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre. Over 200 internal consultations informed the schematics. If you have not had a chance to take part in the recent Campus Modernization Open House, please take a few minutes to listen to the CBC story featuring Capital Projects Director Brad Parkes.
  • In December, the Board of Governors approved the Sudbury Campus Arena “project implementation”. This allows the university to, obtain the services of a specialist consultant versed in P3 (public-private partnerships) business models to assist in the preparation of a Request for Proposal document which will be submitted to the Board for consideration during the coming year.  You will recall that in February 2010, the Board of Governors approved a multipurpose athletics facility, funded by the private sector, as a long-term capital strategic direction. The recently completed Campus Master Plan process looked at the location for a new twin-pad arena taking into account such things as adjacencies to other like facilities, location of potential parking, services, transit, potential for road connections, etc. A location was selected immediately behind the Ben Avery Physical Education building which was felt to be an ideal location for such a facility. In order to optimize operations, the University contemplates the construction and operation by the private sector of a minimum of two ice surfaces. Additional ice surfaces or other facilities may be included should the partnership prove the need for the additional space.
  • Senate is expected to review the University’s Academic Plan, which was last updated in February 2011, and to make decisions on a potentially new Faculty structure.
  • Progress will continue to be pursued in the implementation of the Laurentian Electronic Age Project (LEAP) in various departments and in the follow up to the 2013 Have Your Say survey on faculty and staff engagement, including staff training, professional and leadership development.

This is only a small sample of what you can expect in 2014.

Municipal elections will be held on October 27th. Provincial elections may also be triggered in 2014. We will need to continue to adapt to the evolving political landscape, and to continue to highlight the significant contribution of universities to the future well-being of Canadians.

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 FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.