Welcome Back and Happy 2016!

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

“It still has that new building smell!”, exclaimed one student who was walking last week through the hallway of the newly renovated Classroom Building.

“I’m going to like taking classes in this place…”, said another.

“The Classroom Building looks so new and fresh…”, wrote another student on Twitter.

“I’m off to teach my first class in the spectacularly renovated Classroom Building!”, tweeted a faculty member from the Faculty of Arts.

A colleague from the Faculty of Science tweeted, “Taught in classroom building @LaurentianU this am. 3 cheers for accessibility and inclusion and being able to roll to all my students”.

Another faculty member posted on Facebook, “I just gave my first lecture in the classroom building. It’s gorgeous! You should be very proud! I love the technology”.

Never mind the fact that you can now get from your class or office in the Parker Building to the J.N. Desmarais Library (or Starbucks) without putting on a jacket, the place is beautiful.

Ash wood sourced from Northern Ontario is incorporated into the design softening both the light and the sound. State-of-the-art audiovisual panels and smart-boards make it easier for professors to use the latest technologies, and the chairs are very comfortable. No more writing on the arm rests! The new desks are all on wheels so our classrooms are now creative spaces to grow creative minds.

The completion of the Classroom Building is an important milestone in an ambitious capital program. In the coming months, you will see the work in the Science buildings wrap-up, the Executive Learning Centre and the University Club will open their doors, while the School of Architecture, renovations to the Alphonse-Raymond Building and the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Lab will be completed.

But a new year doesn’t always mean change. I have just come back from Ottawa having participated with Chancellor Steve Paikin in a long-standing tradition: the Laurentian University Political Science Association’s (LUPSA) 24th Model Parliament. Once again a magnificent success.

With every space on the bus full, students were treated with a tour of Parliament on Thursday night, but as always the big day was Friday.

At this year’s Model Parliament, a majority NDP government led by Prime Minister Anthony Costello made a convincing argument to have Ellen Page, Chris Hadfield, Perdita Felicien and Joseph-Armand Bombardier replace former Prime Ministers on Canadian currency; a motion that was ultimately successful. PM Costello also stood strong through a barrage of questions from all opposition parties.

You may also be interested to hear that a Liberal bill to reinstate conscription and a Conservative bill to combine Canadian and American militaries were narrowly defeated.

We were also fortunate to hear from two exceptional speakers. At lunch, we were joined by the new host of CBC’s Power and Politics, Rosemary Barton, who gave us the inside scoop on the #bartonbeating before running off to an interview with Minister Ralph Goodale. During the evening gala at the Château Laurier, we were joined by long-time CTV correspondent Craig Oliver, who explained how he was accidentally invited to dinner with President Ronald Reagan and the First Lady. Needless to say, you had to be there. Pictures of the event are found here.

It was great to have once again this year Professor Emeritus Dr. Rand Dyck spend most of the day with students, and to meet with students and alumni who are already busy planning for the 25th edition next January, which will include a very special alumni reunion.

Congratulations to Kayla May and the rest of LUPSA students, as well as colleagues from the Department of Political Science, on this wonderful event which brought together students from a wide-range of programs in Sudbury and Barrie.

Last week, we also hosted Justin Ferbey, President of the Yukon Development Corporation, as part of the Goring Family Lecture Series on Sustainable Northern Economic Development. On January 28th, we will host award-winning singer-songwriter and founding member of The Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page, for an evening talk entitled, “Ending the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health”, as part of the Dr. Dan Andreae Distinguished Presidential Lecture Series.

Finally, I invite all colleagues to attend the 2016 LU Rendez-Vous UL n Thursday, January 21st at 1:30pm in the Alumni Hall, where we will honour retirees and faculty and staff celebrating career milestones at Laurentian.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter: you can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or can join the 10,300 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.

Inspiring Events

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

My wife Barbara and I invite all members of the University community to our annual Open House on Sunday, December 9th, from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.  Last year, over 450 people came for a portion or all of the afternoon.  This is a wonderful tradition and a great opportunity to socialize with colleagues and students, as well as with Board members, alumni and other members of the Greater Sudbury community.  Please RSVP by calling 705-673-6577 or by email at lul-rsvp@laurentian.ca by December 5th.  Please bring indoor footwear. A babysitting service is available, as well as a shuttle service from the York Street and Bell Park (off Elizabeth) city parking lots.

I want to thank the 250 people who attended the “LU Rendez-Vous” to celebrate 84 colleagues on November 21st.   We celebrated a combined 2,101 years of service among those who completed 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years, as well as recent or upcoming retirees. We received a lot of positive feedback about this year’s event and want to acknowledge members of the organizing committee, Silvie Allard, Bernard Beaulieu, Suzanne Chartrand, France Girard, Julie Lacroix and Marie-Lynne Michaud for their hard work, as well as the many people who supported them from various departments.  I would also like to thank the wonderful jazz ensemble and Café Piaf artists who made it a memorable event. Pictures from the event, as well as the video of testimonials from honorees, can be viewed here.

It was also a pleasure for me to join colleagues to celebrate the book launches of Alain Beaulieu (“Gilles Deleuze et ses contemporains”) and Réal Filion (“Foucault and the Indefinite Work of Freedom”) that same afternoon at La Fromagerie Elgin.

On Thursday November 22nd, another well attended Laurentian Soapbox was held in the building housing the School of Education, the Department of Music and the School of Rural and Northern Health.  This month’s edition had an international theme, with insightful presentations from Dr. Jorge Virchez (Geography), Dr. Gerardo Ulibarri (Chemistry), Melissa Keeping  (Laurentian International) and student Matt Rabey.

That Friday, an emotional sunrise ceremony presided over by Chief Steven Miller from the Whitefish Lake First Nation took place on the site of the School of Architecture, across the street from La Fromagerie.  The ceremony was attended by over 50 people from all parts of the University and of the external community, very early in the morning. I was moved once again by the First Nations’ traditions, the symbolism of the ceremony, but most importantly by the diversity of the gathering which illustrated well the genesis and the future benefits of Laurentian School of Architecture.

On Tuesday November 27th, I had the pleasure of opening the NELHIN/Laurentian University Seniors Falls Prevention Forum with my colleague Louise Paquette, CEO of the North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).  The forum was held at the new United Steelworkers Hall. Congratulations to Dr. John Lewko for his leadership in organizing this joint workshop attended by 180 people.

I have also heard from colleagues how very enthusiastic they are about the announcement from a few weeks ago, appointing the Silver Birch String Quartet as the String Quartet-in-Residence at Laurentian.

Finally, the annual Aramark luncheon to benefit Laurentian’s United Way Campaign will be held on Wednesday, December 12th in the Great Hall. I look forward to seeing you there!  If you haven’t yet considered making a gift or pledge towards the $42,500 campaign goal, I encourage you to do so now!  We are currently at 60% of our goal, with three weeks left to the campaign.  Donors who make a pledge by December 7th will qualify for a draw for free parking and a dinner at Verdicchio’s.

These events – and I could have highlighted many more – have one thing a common: they are inspiring.

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 4,700 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech.