Monday morning at 8:30 I officially took over in the office of the President.
At 7AM I was already doing interviews with members of the media in our brand-new atrium and front door. When the reporter asked me how I felt about taking over at Laurentian, all I could say was, “excited”.
Excited because I have been on this campus for nearly a decade and have never seen anything like what I see today. A university that has grown into a world class institution. A global leader in mineral exploration. A campus on the front lines of indigenous education and reconciliation. An institution providing comprehensive education in French and English. New buildings, new faculty and staff, and a new energy. From our faculty to staff to students, Laurentian University is in a class of its own.
Last week I joined Science Minister Kirsty Duncan on a tour of our exceptional Clifford Fielding Research Innovation and Engineering building which is on track to open its doors in the spring. During the tour, the minister pulled me aside and said what makes Laurentian unique is the personal touch. It is clear, she says, in the spectacular design of the building which incorporates our natural geography. It is clear in the way faculty, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in research grants, put students first. It is clear in the way so many of you came out to greet her throughout her visit to our beautiful campus.
In the last decade I have been impressed again and again by the dedication of our staff and faculty to the good of our students and the communities we work in. In some cases that dedication is visible through spectacular projects like the $100 million Metal Earth mineral exploration research project. It is in the careful, disciplined work of the team leading the construction projects that have been reaching completion in the past year. In others, it is the quiet and largely unseen work of helping our students learn and succeed in spite of the challenges they face. I have met countless alumni and current students who talk about the importance that particular Laurentian faculty or staff members played in their success and, in some cases, survival.
Working together, there is nothing our university community cannot accomplish. For example, I am proud that we have been able to reach a tentative agreement with LUSU 10 months before the collective agreement expires. It took careful listening by the parties, creativity and a willingness to work together for everyone’s benefit. I anticipate the deal will be ratified early next week.
In the coming months, I will make it a point to meet with as many people as I can. Our Executive team will be getting out of the Parker Building to meet in spaces across the university and we want to hear from all of you. I also hope that Linda Ambrose and I will meet many of you inside and outside the University as we validate the work of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee over the coming months.
Dominic Giroux always kept his door open for anyone who wanted to chat. I plan to keep that tradition alive. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. Either in person, by email at email@example.com, or you can follow me on Twitter @pierrezundel.
I am proud of the outstanding work we do together and I look forward to working with you all to continue making Laurentian an education leader across our region and beyond.