2013 off to a roaring start

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

We’ve been off to a roaring start, so far in 2013.  January was exceptionally busy, beginning with two big announcements for our mining programs.  On January 14th, we announced an investment of $1.25M from IAMGOLD to fund the establishment of Canada’s first Research Chair in Open Pit Mining at the Bharti School of Engineering.  This is not only a first in Canada—it is the first privately-funded Research Chair at Laurentian.   The search is now underway, and we hope to have the Chair filled later this year.

Just two days later, we were thrilled to introduce the Franco-Nevada Executive Director of the Goodman School of Mines.  The position is funded through a $500,000 investment by Franco-Nevada. Dr. Bruce Jago, P. Geo, is still getting his feet wet in this critically important position.  He will be responsible for creating the structure of the Goodman School, and one of his goals over the long-term will be to double enrolment in our mining programs by 2020.  A warm welcome to Bruce and his family, who are back in sunny Sudbury after spending the past few years in Vancouver.  We are extremely glad to have Dr. Jago in the position.

Our Political Science students have also had a tremendously busy season, thus far in 2013.  On January 11th, more than 100 students from Sudbury and Barrie in Political Science and several other programs were in Ottawa for the 21st annual Model Parliament.  We are one of only two Canadian universities privileged to hold a Model Parliament in the House of Commons, and this year’s exercise included a particularly “real-world” experience for the participants with demonstrations held on Parliament Hill and in Parliament buildings the same day that the Prime Minister was meeting with First Nations leaders.  Upon their return to Laurentian, some of the Political Science students got ready for a “camping trip” right here on campus.  The 2013 Live-in for Literacy raised more than $5,000!  This is great student leadership in action, and I congratulate this year’s campaign. Here’s a link to a CBC Radio interview with Nathan Gregory Knott and Chloë Bowie Mirfield who participated in this year’s Live-in for Literacy campaign along with Mark Mancini.

More big news in early 2013: Provincial figures show that Laurentian has surged as a choice for a significantly increased number of Ontario secondary school students.  The number of students naming Laurentian as one of their university of choice has jumped 25% for next September.  That’s the highest increase seen at any university in the province, and compares with a 4.6% increase province-wide.

Programs with the highest increases in applications so far: Health Promotion +63%, Science 4 year programs in Sudbury +48%, Arts 4 year programs in Sudbury +46%, Radiation Therapy +46%, Bharti School of Engineering +43%, Social Work in Barrie +33%, Sports Psychology +28%. As well, more than 250 applicants are competing for the 70 spots available in the first intake of the School of Architecture.

I look forward to meeting many of these applicants in the coming months as they confirm their choice of university and program – we take nothing for granted and won’t rest on our laurels as we want future students to have the best university experience possible from the application process to convocation and beyond. During two special President’s Receptions in Sudbury and in Barrie on February 9 and 10, the Deans and I had the opportunity to meet over 50 of these 2013 applicants who had a grade 11 average of above 90%.

I am very proud of the hard work done by our faculty, staff, students and alumni throughout this recruitment season, under the leadership of our impressive Liaison Team. It’s great to see the momentum of the University, the track record of our faculty and alumni, our new undergraduate degree structure and the excellence of our programs and services increasingly being recognized locally and nationally. Our average entry grade has been increasing now above 81%. An increasing proportion of graduates indicate that if they had to start their university studies again, they would DEFINITELY choose Laurentian.

Recent news on applications add to a recent editorial in The Globe and Mail praising our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan as “an excellent strategy,” the recent release of data indicating that Laurentian now has the #1 post-graduate employment rate among Ontario universities, as well as the recent announcement of major private gifts for our Next 50 Campaign. Success attracts success. The re-introduction of varsity hockey in September (men and women), the upcoming campus modernization and improvements to food services on the Sudbury campus, as well as plans for our new downtown Barrie campus, will create even more excitement in the coming months!

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to host three breakfast meetings with diverse groups of faculty and staff from departments including Admissions, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth Sciences, Études françaises, Financial Services, the Office of the Dean of Science and Engineering, the Office of Graduate Studies, the Library, the Midwifery program, Physical Plant and Planning, Physics, Psychology, Security, Risk and Parking, and Social Work. We have also held the first five of 18 planned budget consultation sessions, with members of the Leadership Group including academic department chairs and school directors, representatives from the student associations on the Sudbury campus and the executives of LUSU, LUAPSA and CUPE.

Finally, I want to congratulate all those involved in organizing another important event: Research Week 2013. It was a terrific showcase for the work being done here by our faculty and graduate students. It was a pleasure to attend the launch and closing events (during which awards were announced for presenters during the Graduate Symposium and the “Voyageurs’ Den”), as well as the Lightning Talks.

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.

Multi-year budget / CNFS

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

Budget 2012-2017

Laurentian University’s Board of Governors approved the 2012-2017 multi-year budget on Friday.  The approved budget is balanced for the second year in a row and is aligned to put into action the 40 outcomes identified in the University’s strategic plan. The plan was presented to the Board of Governors after a broad consultation process, seeing over 300 students, faculty and staff in Sudbury and Barrie weigh in over 16 different sessions. It is an exciting time for Laurentian University – we now have an approved 5-year Strategic Plan, Academic Plan, Strategic Research Plan and a budget that aligns with these precise aspirations allowing us to accomplish our specified priorities.

Some of the notable incremental investments include:

  • $35M to support campus modernization in Sudbury (including classroom redesign, new collaborative spaces, one-stop student services, and a new front door welcoming centre);
  • $7.9M by 2017-18 to address deferred maintenance;
  • $6M for the rehabilitation of the Single Students Residence (SSR);
  • $4.1M by 2017-18 to support the international accreditation of the Faculty of Management;
  • $2.8M by 2017-18 to reintroduce men’s and introduce women’s hockey in the Fall of 2013 (self-funded initiative);
  • $2.1M by 2017-18 to launch the School of Mines;
  • $2M to modernize food services on campus, including a new Starbucks this year and full renovation of the Great Hall in 2013;
  • $1.8M by 2017-18 to increase staff training and professional development;
  • $1.4M by 2017-17 to fully integrate all operational functions into one data warehouse (Laurentian Electronic Age Project – LEAP);
  • $1.4M by 2017-18 to enhance services through the Centre for Academic Excellence;
  • $1.05M by 2017-18 to expand student recruitment efforts;
  • $1.05M by 2017-18 to secure full funding for the construction of the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre, enhance proactive hiring practices for Aboriginal faculty and staff, and increase Indigenous content in courses;
  • $1M by 2017-18 to establish Laurentian world-wide as the University synonymous with fresh water research;
  • $0.9M by 2017-18 to offer additional annual Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) to international students in our signature programs;
  • $0.7M by 2017-18 to support initiatives that support faculty and staff engagement;
  • $0.6M by 2017-18 to expand research chairs and scholars-in-residence;
  • $0.6M by 2017-18 to fully implement wireless on the Sudbury campus.

The plan calls for enrolment growth of 1,150 students by 2017-2018, and the university will do so while raising the average entry grade from 81% to 83% and continuing to diversify and grow its international student population.

Barrie operations are revenue neutral effective 2012-2013, representing an increased investment of $0.8M.

The budget includes significant investments in faculty and staff renewal. Key 2012-13 hires include a Canada Research Chair in Geochemistry, a Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology, a Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety, 20 other faculty hirings, more full-time counselors, an additional technologist in the Bharti School of Engineering, the Executive Director of the School of Mines, additional staff in Sudbury for security, marketing and capital projects, additional administrative and student recruitment support in Barrie. In total, the budget assumes 70 faculty retirements by 2017-2018, and about 95 faculty hirings for the Sudbury campus, the School of Architecture and the Barrie campus. Overall staff is projected to increase slightly during that period.

I am very proud of all who worked diligently to present recommendations for the multi-year planning which took into account all projected revenues and expenses for each of the next six years.  I would especially like to thank Normand Lavallée, Sue Radey, Joanne Goudreault and their teams for their hard work through this process.

For more information on the budget, please visit the budget intranet, or Click HERE for the presentation to the Board of Governors.

Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS)

This week, we will welcome more than 200 delegates from across Canada to the 3rd annual CNFS national research forum. Laurentian is pleased to be hosting and co-organizing this event, which is taking place outside of Ottawa for the first time.  The forum brings researchers, health practitioners, government representatives, public policy makers in health and social services as well as professionals in health care to Sudbury to examine how research on health in francophone minority communities can be used to improve the well-being of patients and services in our communities.  Keynote speakers from Belgium, France and Wales are scheduled to present on aspects of health research.

For a full event schedule, please click HERE.

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 3,200 people who follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Merci, Thank You, Miigwech