Canada’s Happiest City – and Canada’s Soaring University!

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

Since my last blog post, “Setting the Bar High,” I am pleased to see that Greater Sudbury is ranked as the happiest city in Canada according to a recent Statistics Canada study. We have the highest proportion of citizens rating a 9 or 10 out of 10 on life satisfaction out of Canada’s 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

For those of us who live in Greater Sudbury, this is not really surprising.  Greater Sudbury is a city with an extraordinary quality of life.  But even if we all knew this, it is nice to see that now people across Canada are in on the secret!

As for Barrie, it ranks 30th out of Canada’s 33 CMAs. As our Associate Vice-President, Craig Fowler, pointed out on social media, our proposed campus in Barrie – once approved by government – should definitely improve the life satisfaction of Barrie’s residents!

I am also “happy” to report that Laurentian University has achieved top rank in several areas recently. Before I begin the long list of recent accomplishments, there are a few updates to provide.

Budget Consultations
Seventeen budget consultations have taken place in Sudbury and Barrie from April 7th to April 30th . I want to thank the hundreds of colleagues and student leaders who took part in this important annual exercise. These consultations are an excellent opportunity for colleagues from the Executive Team and I to reflect on the past few years, share revenue and expenditure assumptions for the next six years, offer perspectives on how we are proposing to resource the University’s strategic directions and share data on University operations. More importantly, it allows participants to question the assumptions and the information presented, and to offer their advice as to areas where the University needs to increase investments. The recommended 2015-2016 Budget and updated multi-year plan will be presented to Senate on June 16th and to the Board of Governors on June 19th.

Celebrating the Faculty of Arts
Congratulations to Dean Dawes and the Faculty of Arts on their successful event “Celebrating the Arts” which featured 690 books written or edited by Laurentian University faculty members, poetry readings by various faculty members as well as musical performances by members of our Department of Music. At last count, the Faculty of Arts had produced 1026 books.

Connections 2015 All Employee Symposium
As you know, Connections 2015, the All-Employee Symposium is being held in the Fraser Auditorium May 20 and 21. All faculty and staff from both our Sudbury and Barrie locations are encouraged to participate.  Please not that registration is required for all sessions, keynote presentations, activities, lunches, as well as opening and closing segments.

This is an excellent opportunity to come together over the course of two days for a series of networking opportunities, professional development sessions and light-hearted entertainment and activities. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Department Tours
On May 14th I will conclude my tour of 35 academic departments and schools initiated 12 months ago.  I am happy to have learned first-hand about the successes, aspirations and challenges of colleagues.  On May 4th I began my tour of administrative departments starting with Athletics and Campus Recreation, with 12 more sessions already scheduled by mid-June.

Have Your Say Employee Engagement Survey
The 2015 Have Your Say survey is here.  As a valued Laurentian employee, what you have to say really matters. This is the time to reflect on where we are as an organization, identify what you think is going well and areas that we can improve upon in order to achieve organizational excellence together.  The survey began on May 4th and will close on May 22nd.  This will be the third biennial survey since the launch of the Have Your Say survey in 2011. Results from the last survey in 2013 survey showed an increase across all 20 key indicators of employee engagement.

While achieving organizational excellence is a long-term process, we have seen many positive changes come from the feedback received including:

  • Soapboxes were established in order to share information and accomplishments with colleagues, giving us the opportunity to connect with people across many departments in a social setting;
  • We now have a calendar of events and activities available through LUNET and Laurentian.ca which we did not have previously;
  • The number of annual budget consultation sessions has been increased, with more sessions dedicated to all staff;
  • The Administrative Leadership Group has been expanded to include more front-line managers. The University’s broader Leadership Group now includes administration, academic department chairs and school directors to give participants a broader perspective;
  • Professional development and training has been a greater priority:
    • The equivalent of 1% of staff salaries is now set aside annually for professional development and training;
    • Workshops and training sessions, coordinated through Human Resources and Organizational Development, have been added for faculty and staff;
    • This year alone, 261 live sessions were held and 17 online for a total of 11,752 hours of training!
  • “Rendez-Vous” has become an anticipated annual event to recognize long-term service and honour retirees;
  • On May 20th and 21st we will be holding a Laurentian All Employee Symposium;
  • Upgrades to physical space through the Sudbury Campus Modernization continue for improved an improved teaching environment;
  • A number of term staff positions have been converted to permanent positions;
  • More faculty and staff positions have been added in Barrie to better meet student needs;
  • New offices have been secured for faculty and staff in Barrie.

I think you can see from the examples above, it’s worth Having Your Say!  An email will be sent to you on May 4th from Metrics@Work with a link to a confidential anonymous survey. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey.  Your input directly shapes our environment and helps identify areas of focus.

Laurentian #1
For the fourth consecutive year, Laurentian graduates have attained the highest post-graduation employment rates in Ontario at 92.6% after 6 months.  Laurentian has over 52,000 alumni and we look forward to adding another 2,100 following convocation ceremonies this spring, kicking off in Barrie on May 27th.

After the Junior Design team won the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) in February and the Senior Design team came in second, both teams qualified to represent Ontario at the 2015 Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC).  These amazing teams from the Bharti School of Engineering won in Newfoundland on March 5-8th. This is the first time that Junior and Senior Design teams both win at the national level!

The Vale Living With Lakes Centre (VLWLC) has been honoured with two prestigious awards from the Ontario Association of Architects.  The Centre has been selected for both the OAA Design Excellence Award for 2015, as well as the OAA’s Sustainable Design Excellence Award for 2015. This innovative building is ranked as one of Canada’s greenest buildings.

On April 8th, The Prix Champlain 2015 awards ceremony was held at the Salon international du livre de Québec. Dr. Thierry Bissonnette, Associate Professor in the Department of French Studies, received the renowned award in the creative/fiction category under his pen name – Thierry Dimanche – for his book entitled Le milieu de partout, published by Prise de parole.

Congratulations to Dr. François Caron, Full Professor in the School of Environment, who was honoured with the Teaching Excellence Award for 2015.  The annual award recognizes exceptional teaching performance and nominations must be supported by students, peers, alumni and other members of the university community.

Congratulations to Voyageurs wrestler, Regina Martinez, who is on her way to Havana, Cuba in early May to represent Canada at the Pan-Am Junior Championships.  Martinez will be trading in the blue and gold for the red and white, wrestling in the 44kg weight class from May 6-8th.

A big round of applause goes out to rower Emily Jago and hockey player Vincent Llorca, Laurentian University’s Female and Male Athletes of the Year.  I would like to also acknowledge recipients of the newly created Male and Female Rookie of the Year recognition awarded to swimmers Matthew Schouten and Riley Konrad.  Drew Bursey and Jillian Mayhew were each recognized with the Investors Group Community Service Award for their outstanding volunteer work in the community.  Please take a minute to read more about these incredible Voyageurs by clicking here. Thank you to all our Voyageur athletes who trained hard this year to represent Laurentian University.

In closing, I would like to remind everyone that an Open House is scheduled for May 12th at 1pm in the Lower Fraser Auditorium for a Sudbury Campus Modernization update.  Soapbox will take place following the presentation at 3pm.

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 9,000 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

International
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!

Kudos!
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.

Upcoming
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.