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.

Laurentian Matters, Far and Wide

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

Laurentian faculty, staff, and students seem to be everywhere these days.  Our faculty, our students, our research centres and our programs are garnering media attention far and wide, and I am thrilled to be celebrating all of their successes.  Members of the Laurentian community are making their mark, making a difference, and making us all proud.  Here’s a brief list of recent accomplishments in our Laurentian community:

In the North
On January 8th, we celebrated a big announcement from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration:  a three-year funding commitment of $2.7 million for  Professions North, an important program that was started here at Laurentian University by our Faculty of Management. Since its inception in 2010, Professions North has helped more than 300 internationally trained professionals to reach their career goals by bridging education, culture and employment services, and by providing a linking service with employers.  This effort has been making a real difference in the lives of internationally-trained professionals, and in the northern communities where they are living and working.  We’re proud to play a role in this successful program.

On Parliament Hill
From January 9-12th, Laurentian students from Sudbury and Barrie took part in the 22nd annual Model Parliament. As usual, the members of Laurentian’s Political Science Association and faculty worked hard to put together a successful and memorable event and, I congratulate all of them.  I think their “political organizing” skills will certainly serve them well!  It was a privilege for me to attend again this year and to listen to our students’ impressive speeches, questions and answers! It was heartening to see our students meeting and talking politics with keen observers of the Canadian political scene, such as Chancellor Steve Paikin and Richard Madan, Parliamentary Correspondent for CTV News in Ottawa. Our Past Chair, Floyd Laughren, joined us as Governor General. You can read accounts of the student experience in this year’s Model Parliament at Lamdba.ca and at the Student Blogs page

On January 15th, the federal government announced a new International Education Strategy designed to double the number of international students in Canada by targeting China, Brazil and other fast-growing countries. The government plans to spend $5 million annually to support the program and another $13 million over two years will be spent on the Globalink program, which helps Canadian students study in other countries. This is good news for Laurentian University, where we’ve experienced strong growth in international enrolment.  As set out in our Strategic Plan, we are focussed on increasing the proportion of international students from 6.1% in 2011 to 8% by 2015.

In Ontario
On January 16th, the Honourable Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced the launch of a new Course-to-Course Transfer Guide.  This tool makes it easier for Ontario’s postsecondary students to transfer their credits among all of Ontario’s 44 publicly funded colleges and universities. Students can now enter their current transcript information, such as course codes or course titles, and they will be able to see how their credits will be recognized at other institutions prior to applying. As co-chair of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), I am thrilled to see this tool developed to assist students in learning about the pathways available to them.  Laurentian University continues to recognize full credit of courses taken in other universities and is #1 among Ontario universities outside the GTA in terms of college transfers.

In the Universe
Congratulations to Nigel Smith, Christina Kraus, Clarence Virtue and everyone at SNOLab for the wonderful feature that aired on January 20th on PBS News Hour.  The program brought viewers inside “one of the most sophisticated particle physics observatories in the world,” and introduced the enormous PBS audience across the United States and abroad to SNOLab, Laurentian University and Sudbury.  Bravo!

The Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) was awarded an exceptional distinction on January 22nd, when the Honourable Greg Rickford, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced winners of the Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) program. At the Minister’s announcement in Sudbury on January 22nd, CEMI was awarded $15 million for its Ultra-Deep Mining Network proposal, making it the largest grant recipient of the 2014 competition.  Amazing news for our colleagues at CEMI. I am proud to serve as Chair of CEMI this year.

And Still More Kudos!
Congratulations to our own Tracy Oost, Forensic Scientist and Continuity Officer, whose Titanic research continues to gain attention and wide recognition.  Tracy was interviewed recently on the flagship CBC Radio program As it Happens (39:00), as well as CBC Sudbury and Radio New Zealand National.  She has become a leading name in a fascinating field of research, and her work has helped to unravel long-standing mysteries surrounding the tragedy of the Titanic.

Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Laurentian also made headlines this month with breakthrough developments in cancer treatment.  Dr. Parissenti will also be featured on the cover of University Affairs magazine in March.  We are tremendously proud of the work he is doing in helping to improve the quality of life of women with breast cancer.

Laurentian Mechanical Engineering students took home top honours in the Senior Design category at the Ontario Engineering Competition.  Congratulations Richard Lapointe, Justin Gaudet, Nathan Mathias and Mitch Andryechen who will be representing Ontario at the 2014 Canadian Engineering Competition in London, March 13-16.

Research Week is February 3-7th. There is a series of events throughout the week to learn more about the work being done at Laurentian University by our faculty and graduate students.  Click here for the complete agenda.

On February 13th, bidders with an eye for a well-designed ice-fishing hut will be attending a first-of-its-kind auction in support of the Laurentian School of Architecture.  As part of their design/build program of study, our first-year architecture students have been creating ice huts – and without giving too much away, we understand that there are some pretty amazing designs out there!  Perhaps one of these huts will be seen on a lake in your neighbourhood during the current ice-fishing season. The auction will be held at Science North in the Vale Cavern on Thursday, February 13, 6:00-9:00 pm.  Good fishing, everyone.

Also coming up:
On March 6, 2014, the Peter Goring lecture series welcomes the Honourable Bob Rae, who will speak on “Mining and First Nations: Sustainability is the Only Option.” Mr. Rae will share his thoughts on “sustainability” as a critical principle of first nations thinking, and how it relates not only to the land, water, and air, but also to the sustainability of people and communities.  This is sure to be a very popular lecture.  Stay tuned to www.laurentian.ca for further details about this event.

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.