Laurentian University, located on the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, within the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850, is committed to strengthening the foundation of knowledge in higher education and research in order to offer an outstanding university experience in English and French with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education. Together with its federated partners, Laurentian University prepares leaders who bring innovative and intelligent solutions to local and global issues.
Laurentian prides itself as an access university, providing opportunities for a high quality education, rich in research and experiential learning. Laurentian University is committed to principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the implementation of this plan. Laurentian welcomes a diverse student body that includes, but is not limited to, first generation students, online students, part-time students, and students with diverse learning needs. Laurentian is a destination of choice for students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, including Indigenous students and Francophone students, and welcomes a growing number of students from around the world.
We also recognize the expertise of learners who are coming to Laurentian after being in the workforce, with flexible degree options as well as enhanced Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). We are committed to providing scholarships that are both merit and needs based, recognizing top scholars and ensuring opportunities for all qualified students.
Laurentian’s 2020-2024 Academic Plan is situated within the context of other planning documents.
The Academic Plan elaborates the outcomes of Laurentian’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan and guides implementation of the 2017-2023 Retention Strategy, the 2019-2024 LUNEC Strategic Plan, the 2019-2024 Strategic Research Plan, the Okanagan Charter, and the 2020-2025 Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA-3).
The Academic Plan was prepared by a subcommittee of ACAPLAN. It was circulated for feedback to the deans, faculties, Laurentian Leadership Group, ACAPLAN and Senate, plus several consultation sessions were conducted. The document was revised following extensive comments from each of these groups, then sent for approval at both ACAPLAN and Senate in June 2020.
Purpose of the plan
Sixty years young, Laurentian has been rapidly growing its reputation as a leading university for the North, with increasing international recognition and strong regional, provincial, and national, impact. Our aim over the next four years is to build academic programming at Laurentian University that attracts students seeking a personalized leading-edge university experience that successfully prepares them as critical thinkers for the 21st century.
We are committed to achieving these goals through innovative teaching and research programs that engage students within
and beyond their disciplines, and provide real world experience, proving to them they can make a difference.
Read the full plan (PDF)
This Academic Plan is written with four important lenses in mind:
- Strategic Development of Academic Programs
- Student Success and Retention
- Support for Faculty Members in the Continued Development of Innovative Pedagogies
- Alignment with External Opportunities and Stakeholder Priorities
Laurentian University is committed to the continuous development of current, innovative and relevant programming taught
by professors at the top of their fields – at both the undergraduate and graduate levels – so that all learners will be excited
to complete their university education at our institution, plus leave with the tools and skills needed for future success. Here
we note that Laurentian graduates have consistently ranked within the top two in Ontario for employment within their
fields within six months of graduation, and for starting salaries.
We state proudly that students who choose Laurentian choose a Canadian experience, one that embraces bilingualism, tri-cultural values, and one that is whole-heartedly welcoming to students from around the world. Building on the strengths underscored in our Strategic Plan – Indigeneity(1), Francophone cultures and language, interdisciplinarity, mining and environmental sustainability, and well-being - courses and program offerings must be attractive and relevant to students in order to provide them with an excellent education that prepares them for their short -and long- term personal and professional goals.
Student success and retention are the result of the strategies we employ to ensure that the students recruited to the institution are prepared to start their academic studies, succeed in their courses, and ultimately remain at the institution to obtain an undergraduate or graduate degree. The 2017-2023 Retention Strategy states: “The success of Laurentian students requires a commitment to an academic culture and conditions where students are invited to rise to the high level of academic excellence that we extend. We must embrace the wealth of experiences that students bring and provide opportunities to succeed”.
Furthermore, understanding our students and their needs helps us tailor purposeful and pedagogically leading course work and support. Thoughtful and intentional actions of faculty and staff impact our students’ academic and social experiences, contributing to their personal growth, the development of a life-long network of relationships, and the attainment of a desired credential.
Improving retention demands that we provide students with the tools they need to rise to the level of academic excellence that we expect and to which they are capable. A culture of academic excellence begins with quality teaching, which necessitates highly qualified faculty members who are connected to appropriate supports and challenged to explore new pedagogical approaches. Faculty members need to be supported in becoming the best teachers they can be, in receiving appropriate professional development on best practices in pedagogy, in recognizing students who are struggling, in understanding the cultural diversity of our students and how to teach accordingly, as well as in developing strategies to increase student engagement.
Finally, this plan has also been developed cognizant of provincial priorities for post-secondary education, including:
- addressing the evolving needs of the labour market,
- enhancing the skills and competencies of our students, and
- supporting a postsecondary education system that strengthens Ontario’s economic competitiveness.
(1) Indigeneity in this context, is understood as the lived experience of Indigenous peoples in relation to their inherent state which exemplifies their position as an original people, including their descendants who inhabit or were born to a given land in what is commonly understood as North America (paraphrased definition by Tlaketekatl retrieved from mexika.org/2014/09/17/the-problem-with-indigeneity
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged not only Laurentian University but post-secondary institutions worldwide in how to best maintain quality academic programming while keeping students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. With over 24 fully online degree programs and 500 online courses, Laurentian is already poised as a leader in online education, but transitioning to remote and alternative modes of teaching for on-campus courses in a very short time frame required an immense collaborative effort across campus. Laurentian was the first university in Canada to recognize the severity of the outbreak and suspend in-class activities, as well as shift to remote learning. This transition was made possible through the dedication of its faculty members and staff, as well as the commitment from everyone to adapt. It also created awareness of equity issues regarding limited access to reliable internet for students living in remote locations, as well as challenges for students balancing school and home responsibilities.
While a challenge to adapt quickly, the COVID-19 pandemic also presented several opportunities to both faculty members and students. It exposed many to new technologies, such as Zoom, plus allowed faculty members to leverage some of the capacities of our existing Learning Management System (D2L) in using the discussion forum to facilitate engagement or post pre-recorded lectures. Finally, given the cancellation of in-person final exams, faculty members also reimagined their assessment approaches, integrating alternative methods and creative final assignments.
Post-secondary institutions worldwide have also had to adapt quickly to online modes of delivery, so this “new normal” challenges Laurentian University to continue in its innovation in order to maintain its status as a leader, plus attract and retain students. With that in mind, this Academic Plan is even more important as Laurentian redefines itself and enhances its academic programming. While COVID-19 may initially impact our ability to reach some of the objectives in the Academic Plan, once we have passed through this experience, we will indeed emerge with a renewed commitment to achieving each
goal and objective.