Employee Engagement in Action

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

Since my last blog posting, Dr. Patrice Sawyer (Vice-President, Research and Francophone Affairs), Bernard Beaulieu (Executive Director, Human Resources and Organizational Development) and I had the opportunity to have breakfast or coffee with 12 more faculty and staff members from Accessibility Services, Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Commerce, History, Human Resources and Organizational Development, Liaison, Midwifery, Music, Native Human Services, Psychology, Sciences de l’éducation.  I value these conversations with colleagues, and find them to be effective in continuing to improve organizational communication.

I want to thank Dr. Yves Alarie, Dr. Elizabeth Wenghofer, Dr. Hoi Cheu, Dr. David Pearson and students from the Science Communication graduate program Tanis Mercer and Alexander Johnston, and Lise Dutrisac for their engaging presentations at this month’s Laurentian Soapbox held on February 21 in the lobby of the Fraser building.  Once again, I received a lot of positive feedback from faculty and staff who attended.  Some, who attended for the first time, were thrilled to hear such inspiring stories and developments from colleagues and to have the opportunity to socialize afterwards. Our next monthly Soapbox is scheduled for Thursday, March 21 at 3pm at the Pub Down Under. If you are a faculty or staff member and haven’t had the chance to attend a Laurentian Soapbox, I strongly encourage you to do so! 

Budget Consultations for 2013-2014 and Beyond

Two budget consultations on the Sudbury campus were also held earlier this week with staff.  There were over 150 colleagues who attended. These staff budget consultations were introduced last year as a follow up to the Have Your Say 2011 survey, when staff expressed interest in knowing more about the University’s budget and wanting to have a greater say in resourcing directions for the coming years. I want to thank colleagues who took time to learn more about the 2013-2014 draft budget which includes revenue and expenditure assumptions for five subsequent fiscal years.  The consultation document is on the Intranet, under Administrative Departments – Financial Services – Documents – Budget.

Eleven more budget consultations are planned before the end of March with Faculty/Library Councils, Senate, LUNEC, the LUFA Executive, Barrie faculty/staff and Barrie students.

If you have any questions or comments for this process, please contact Normand Lavallée, Executive Director of Financial Services, at nlavallee@laurentian.ca or at extension 3047.

Staff Professional Development

Another area identified for improvement by staff in the Have Your Say 2011 survey was the need to offer more professional development and training opportunities to staff. Once again, this input was taken seriously and was reflected in the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan as a fifth key goal was added for Organizational Excellence, including a specific outcome to “Ensure ongoing staff development, second language training, leadership mentoring, and succession planning.”

As a result, the University’s budget now includes the equivalent of 1% of staff payroll earmarked exclusively on an annual and ongoing basis for staff professional development and training. This represents an incremental investment of $1.8 million by 2017-18 in our staff. These budgets are decentralized in departments, although Directors are anxious to partner with other departments to get maximum value for their professional development dollars, and will be using the results of the professional development survey located on the Intranet site, to collaborate with colleagues to have the broadest and most relevant PD offerings. All staff members should have already been informed of this survey by their supervisor, if not, I ask you to raise the topic with your supervisor. The survey asks staff what they require to be more effective in their current position, what additional training would prepare them for future career opportunities here at Laurentian, what were the success factors of the best training they had in the past (and how they can be duplicated), what are the preferred delivery methods for professional development, and to rank in importance 23 potential topics for professional development.

I want to thank the 152 colleagues who have completed the survey so far. The deadline is 4:30p.m. on March 1, 2013.  I am always pleased to hear from staff about the additional professional development and training that they have had access to in the past few months, recognizing that more can and will be done in this regard.  This staff survey will be extremely useful in this regard to make sure that the upcoming $1.8 million investment is used in the most effective way to have the maximum positive impact for staff.  More importantly, what matters is that each staff member and supervisor have a candid conversation about areas of strength and areas of development, and supports currently available – or to be made available in the future – to enable staff to fully develop their potential.  That was another key take-away from the Have Your Say 2011 survey on faculty and staff engagement.

If you have any questions or comments on this matter, please contact Julie Lacroix in Human Resources and Organizational Development at jlacroix@laurentian.ca or extension 3021.  Julie is now assigned full-time to ensure the successful implementation of the staff development and training outcome identified in the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan.

Last Faculty Consultation on Campus Modernization 

Another area identified by faculty and staff in the Have Your Say 2011 survey requiring immediate improvement, was the need to improve classroom space and gathering spaces. This input was also taken seriously and was equally reflected in the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan.

Over the past three months, over 20 consultation sessions have been held on the Sudbury campus to inform our future $35 million campus modernization project.  These began with members of the Leadership Group, chairs of academic departments and school directors with a “kickoff charette” on November 30th, and were led by the consultants for the project, Diamond Schmitt Architects, and colleagues from Capital Projects.  These consultations included sessions with Faculty Councils, Information Technology, the Schools of Social Work, Human Kinetics, Commerce and Sports Administration, the SGA, the AEF, the GSA and LAMPS, the Registrar’s office, Printing Services and Conference/Event Services, a staff forum and the Executive Team.  This process is overseen by a Campus Modernization Steering Committee which includes 18 members from each Faculty, staff, all student groups, the champion of each of the four related Strategic Plan outcomes, Physical Plant and Capital Projects and is chaired by Vice-President Administration, Carol McAulay.

Over the next few weeks, the Campus Modernization Steering Committee will advise the Executive Team on the recommendations to bring forward to the Board of Governors’ Property Development and Planning Committee on May 28th.  This $35 million project aims at implementing five specific outcomes identified in the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan:

  • Classrooms designed flexibly to accommodate diverse teaching and learning styles;
  • A “front door/welcoming centre”;
  • “One-stop” student services, leveraging state-of-the-art technology, that are seamless across our two campuses and respond to student needs;
  • Dynamic student experiences in new social spaces that nurture a strong sense of community and belonging;
  • Enhanced gathering spaces for faculty, staff, graduate students and alumni.

A consultation session is scheduled for all faculty members on March 1 from 1:30pm until 3:30pm at the lower auditorium of the Fraser building.

I want to thank the many colleagues and students who got involved in this important exercise, and encourage faculty members to attend this last consultation.

If you have any questions or comments about this process, please contact Brad Parkes, Director of Capital Projects, at bparkes@laurentian.ca or extension 1550.

Whether we’re talking about organizational communication, staff involvement in future budget decisions of the University, professional development and training for staff, improving teaching and research space – all areas that matter for faculty and staff engagement – I am proud of the improvements we have made together in the past few years, and of the processes we have put in place for the future. Our University will continue to thrive with the active engagement of all faculty and staff.

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 5,200 people who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwetch.

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.