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.

Recognizing excellence, recruiting students … growing moustaches

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

There has been plenty of excitement around the University in this busy fall season.  The Maclean’s annual university rankings were released a few days ago and I was very happy to see Laurentian’s overall ranking climb again.  Although no rankings are perfect, it is always nice to see our momentum in both Sudbury and Barrie captured by some of the national rankings. In the past two years we have increased our overall position in Maclean’s by seven ranks, to 11th in the primarily undergraduate category – the biggest jump of any university in Canada during that period.

This improvement over the past two years is due largely to the fact that relative to other universities, we have done a better job of protecting our student-faculty ratio, our operating budget per student has increased, a greater proportion of our students are winning national awards, and faculty members have secured more research grants.

On another exciting note, the 2011 Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF) was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on October 14-16th.  The OUF is an important opportunity for us to introduce ourselves to thousands of high school students and their parents who are seeking information about post-secondary options.  This year, the fair attracted over 118,000 attendees over the three-day period.

Laurentian University had a new element this year that was staged for a real “5D” Laurentian University experience, featuring a residence room, a replica of the rock-climbing wall at Sudbury’s Athletics Centre, and even an actual beach.  We were delighted by the positive feedback and thrilled to have received a record number of potential students and parents to our exhibit. I’d like to thank our students, faculty, staff and alumni who attended the fair and did such a wonderful job representing our growing University.  We are still receiving rave reviews!

On October 28th, I had the great pleasure of presenting long-term service awards to members of our Laurentian community.  The Chancellor, Board Chair Floyd Laughren and I were humbled to present this special recognition for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service to so many deserving staff.  In total, we were celebrating over 3,200 years of service at Laurentian University. Their collective efforts remind us all, again, that the success of any organization starts with its people.  This group has had an impressive impact on the University, helping to bring Laurentian to the place we stand today. I congratulate each of them and look forward to the many more years ahead.   I also want to acknowledge and thank those who we celebrated at our retirement celebration.  We were able to pay tribute to the faculty and staff who have recently retired or will soon retire from a career at Laurentian University.  Congratulations on a well-deserved retirement and best wishes to all.

Over 472 students graduated this Fall. Two convocation ceremonies were held on October 29th on the Sudbury campus. Several key awards were presented. Dr. Carol Kauppi was celebrated as the recipient of the Laurentian University Research Excellence Award for 2010-2011.  Dr. Kauppi is a full professor in the School of Social Work and since 2009 has been Director of the Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy.  In 2010, she was successful in securing a grant of $1M from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.  This single grant provides 5-year funding for the Poverty, Homelessness and Migration project.  Great work Dr. Kauppi and congratulations on this very special award.

The other award that was presented went to Dr. Hoi Cheu from the Department of English for his excellence in teaching. Dr. Cheu accepted the Teaching Excellence Award for his contributions to Laurentian University.  As part of our community, he has vastly impacted his students and is dedicated to their progress and success.  I would like to extend my congratulations to him for his work.

Laurentian University launched its United Way campaign on October 4th with a kick-off breakfast that welcomed 154 people and raised $1,100 for the campaign. The campaign is in full swing with another fundraiser which started on November 3rd. Tickets for a draw to see an all Canadian hockey game, the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Vancouver Canucks in Toronto on December 17th at 7 pm, are available from November 3rd, 2011 and can be purchased for $5. The draw will be held on November 30th at 12:30 p.m. in the Great Hall.  This year we hope to raise $40,000 for this worthy cause, with the pledge drive ending on December 23rd.

Finally, this month is moustache season and I will be participating in my first Movember. This month-long event challenges men from every corner of Canada as well as around the world, to help support prostate cancer awareness by growing a moustache in November. We are all excited to do our part in raising awareness for men’s health this month.  Funds raised in Canada will go to support research on prostate cancer, the most common form of male cancer.  So if you see someone who looks like me, walking around campus over the next month sporting a moustache, chances are it will be me. To support the Laurentian Team by making a donation, you can go here for my page, or here for team captain, Dr. David Lesbarrères’ page.

As usual, I welcome comments and questions on the topics discussed in my blog postings, or any other matter that may be of concern to you. My email is: .

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Merci/Thank you/Miigwech