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Laurentian University at Sixty

A time to reflect on an eventful past, and continue aiming for a brighter future

Laurentian University started as a modest federation of universities, but it was not long before our hallowed halls, laboratories, theatres, and sports fields resonated with all manner of breakthroughs, discovery, and victories. At the crossroads of culture, art, science, and politics, we grew to become northern Ontario’s foremost university.

This fall marks Laurentian’s 60th anniversary, northern Ontario’s first university, a time to reflect on an eventful past, and continue aiming for a brighter future.

It is at Laurentian where Indigenous leaders received and gave consideration to an apology from the United Church of Canada in 1986, the first of four churches to apologize for the crimes of residential schools. 

It’s where the ‘Sudbury Story’ was written in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a world-class example of our environmental research at the service of the community’s regreening efforts. 

Where, in the 1970s a cultural revolution was sparked in Francophone Ontario and emerged institutions like the Théâtre du Nouvel Ontario and Éditions Prise de parole, providing the community with a collective platform to create and inspire. 

Laurentian again made history this year when it became the first public university in Canada to recognize the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and suspend in-person activities, further becoming the first to transition fully from in-person to remote learning. Our full community mobilized, ensuring that the vast majority of our students finished the 2020 Winter term on time. 

Laurentian is looking ahead and championing research that will not only greatly benefit our communities, but also take us forward into the next sixty years of our University.

Historians will one day write about the feats of Dr. Jennifer Walker, who is a Haudenosaunee member of Six Nations of the Grand River, and who is contributing evidence-based data to First Nations leadership in Ontario as they develop health policy in the face of COVID-19. 

They will speak about the collaboration between Laurentian’s Dr. Thomas Merritt and Dr. Gustavo Ybazeta of Health Sciences North Research Institute and the City of Greater Sudbury, who are testing waste water to create an early-detection system for COVID-19

They will underscore the powerful examples of leadership by Laurentian students, like Tyler Pretty, who tirelessly volunteered during the shut-down to deliver groceries for people who could not leave their homes, screened Glencore employees for COVID-19, and who still finds time to contribute to improving French-language health care services in the community. 

As we kick-start our 60th year, let’s turn our outlook to the over 66,000 Laurentian graduates who are having an impact around the world, defining itself as a destination of choice for over 9,000 students representing some 75 distinct countries of citizenship These alumni are succeeding and boast among the highest post-graduation salaries and employment rate in the province. Laurentian is further ranked first in earned research income growth, proving that our graduates, our faculty and our staff are leading the way in Ontario’s economy, workforce, and intellectual capital. 

Laurentian is rising to the challenge of history. Our enrolment numbers are on target, an important sign that, despite the pandemic, students continue to seek out and trust Laurentian University for advancing their academic pursuits and living their best student experience.