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One Hundred Days and Beyond

November 13, 2019


My First 100 Days

October 8th marked my 100th day at Laurentian. I spent the day at a Universities Canada National Building and Reconciliation Forum hosted by Algoma University. There was a remarkable energy and enthusiasm in the room and a real sense that universities in Canada can provide leadership in building reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. 

100 days may seem like a relatively long time, but it passes in the blink of an eye. As I pass from this first phase of meeting and getting to know the community, to the next phase of beginning the conversations around moving on our ambitions, I am convinced more than ever that with the support of the entire community, given their dedication, pride and commitment to the Institution, Laurentian has a very bright and promising future indeed.

It is particularly inspiring to see the enthusiasm and commitment of our students as their dreams for the future take shape. We have an important responsibility as a university, to do everything we can to provide the best possible educational opportunities and real-life experiences that prepare students for successful and satisfying careers. One of my goals is to ensure that the student perspective is always considered and heard in decision making, as everything that we do, as an institution needs to be aimed at improving student success and experience.

Laurentian is a unique place. From our commitment to bilingualism and triculturalism, to equity, diversity and inclusion, welcoming students, faculty and staff from all over the world, we are helping to make the world a more inclusive place as we support truth and reconciliation and the future of the French Language and Francophone culture in Ontario. I have also heard that these commitments provide us with a special opportunity to grow understanding and collaboration between communities.

The first one hundred days are only the beginning. I look forward to continuing to engage with members of the entire Laurentian University community so that we can all move forward together in building a brighter future for the university and our broader community.


Fall Convocation 2019 and Presidential Installation

On October 25, 2019, the Laurentian University Board of Governors and Chancellor Steve Paikin hosted a community reception at the McEwen School of Architecture in honour of my installation.

The official installation took place the next morning during the Fall 2019 Convocation Ceremony. I had the opportunity to share this momentous occasion with students graduating with undergraduate degrees in: Fine Arts, Social Work, Indigenous Social Work; Master’s degrees in: Interdisciplinary Health, Psychology, Indigenous Relations, Health Sciences, Orthophonie, and Social Work; as well as a Doctorate of Philosophy in Human Studies. We also recognized the contributions made to society by Dr. Cindy Blackstock, and presented her with an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University.

I was so pleased and humbled that so many of our staff, faculty, students and members of the broader Sudbury community took the time to extend their best wishes at the reception and installation ceremony.

As my five-year-old grandson recounted at school the following Monday, “Grandpa graduated on the weekend”. Indeed, through these events I truly feel myself accepted into the Laurentian community.

Your continued support is greatly appreciated and I fully accept the responsibility that comes with it. 

Both the installation ceremony and my installation address are available online.


Honorary Doctorate

As I mentioned above, it was with a great pleasure to have Dr. Cindy Blackstock presented with an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University for her work in child welfare and Indigenous children’s rights. Dr. Blackstock has published more than 75 articles relating to reconciliation, Indigenous theory, First Nations welfare and human rights.   

Dr. Blackstock is recognized for her work with First Nations colleagues on a successful human rights challenge to Canada’s inequitable provision of child and family services and failure to implement Jordan’s Principle. This hard-fought victory has resulted in enhanced services being provided to Inuit, Métis, and First Nations children, youth and families.

In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate degree, Dr. Blackstock planted a tree on campus. This gesture was made in support of Laurentian’s continued efforts and focus on climate change and sustainability. As a hub for research and work on soil restoration and re-greening, I look forward to the continuing work of our Environmental Sustainability Committee and Strategic Plan Outcome Group #18 that championed this initiative and are continuing their work on many others.  

On behalf of the Laurentian University, congratulations Dr. Blackstock, and welcome to our community. 

Dr. Cindy Blackstock’s speech can be viewed online here.


Fall 2019 Registration and Recruitment for 2020

Preliminary registration numbers are now available as of the add/drop date of Sept 13th. The caution, as always, is that these numbers remain preliminary and will be impacted by course changes etc. Final numbers will not be available until early December. With that caveat, our preliminary total enrollment numbers are 1.8% above our budget projection for 2019-20 and are up 1% overall from last year. These numbers keep us on plan with respect to the university budget forecast for the current year as contained in the finance committee report. Enrollment management and recruitment is an area that we must all continue to participate in proactively.

On November 2, Laurentian University welcomed 422 prospective students and their families to our open house. Open House offers the opportunity for prospective students to visit our campus and engage with faculty and students from their program of interest. Prospective students and their parents also have the opportunity to attend mock lectures and visit the laboratories on campus, which allows them to share in the student experience and offerings. Congratulations to Liaison, Marketing, Digital Strategy, and all those involved in the orchestration and delivery of our Open House. I really enjoyed the opportunity to mix and mingle with prospective students and their parents and may even have snuck into a tour or two of parts of the university I had yet to visit.

On December 4th and 5th, Liaison will welcome parents and support persons from Sudbury to campus for an information session. Parents can expect discussion regarding services and supports for their grade 12 applicant. 


Budget 2019/2020 and looking to 2020-2021

Our financial rollout for 2019/20 is proceeding according to our budget plan, although with one significant remaining unknown, which is the outcome of our application for one-time Northern Sustainability Funding made available to assist Northern Ontario’s universities and colleges in adapting to the new tuition fee regime implemented for fiscal 2019/20. Laurentian’s application for this one-time grant funding was submitted in July. 

Our preliminary enrollment figures provide some optimism that we will meet our enrollment targets upon which our balanced budget projections for the current year are based. Nonetheless it is important to recognize that the Northern Sustainability Funding is one time funding that we will need to replace next year through realizing further efficiencies and/or through increasing our enrollments across our programs.


Strategic Mandate Agreement 3 (SMA 3)

Laurentian’s three year Strategic Mandate Agreement 2 with the Province of Ontario expires March 31, 2020. As of April 2020, we will be entering into a third Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA3) with the Province. Laurentian’s 5 year SMA3 is to be developed over the next several months and to be finalized with the province by March 31st 2020.

A new component for SMA3 is that enrolment levels of domestic students will not be the sole factor in determining the level of enrolment related grant funding. Rather, the level of an institution’s enrolment related grant funding will be determined from a combination of enrolment and year over year performance against a series of standardized metrics. Importantly, Laurentian’s performance is to be judged against our own recent past rather than against system-wide metrics. In other words, we will be competing against ourselves, rather than other universities. Over the five years of SMA3, performance-based allocation of grant funding will increase in steps from 25% to 60%.

The ten metrics that we will be evaluated on are:

  1. Graduate Employment Rate in a related field
  2. Institutional Strength/Focus
  3. Graduation Rate
  4. Graduate Employment Earnings
  5. Experiential Learning
  6. Skills & Competencies
  7. Community & Local Impact
  8. Institution-Specific Metric (Economic Impact)
  9. Research Funding & Capacity: Federal Tri-Agency Funding Secured
  10. Innovation: Research Revenue Attracted from Private Sector Sources

In short, universities that meet their performance targets will receive 100% of their projected performance grant funding as well as a proportional share of the funding from universities that fail to meet their goals. We will elaborate on how these metrics have been formulated as they become finalized, but we are expecting that our targets will be set based on our performance over the past three years. There may be some flexibility in targets for each metric to account for normal annual fluctuations. Eight of the ten metrics will be pre-populated by the ministry based on publicly accessible information. For metrics two and six (Institutional Strengths and Economic Impact), we will have input into the development of the metric. Only the first six metrics will be counted in year one, with this expanding to inclusion of all ten metrics by year three.


Employees Joining Laurentian University

Welcoming and on-boarding new employees is important to our success and that of our students. Whenever possible, I will endeavour to put a spotlight on new permanent members of the Laurentian community, as well as those embarking on new roles and opportunities within our institution. From the period of July to the end of October, I would like to recognize the following individuals:

  • Jennifer Straub, Lecturer, School of Education
  • Maxime Comeau, Student Awards and Fees Clerk, Student Awards and Fees
  • Michel Delorme, Dean, Faculty of Management
  • Shaun Malley, Communications Officer, Communications Department
  • Kurtis Stephen, Student Services Representative, Service Innovation
  • Elizabeth Sheppard, Clinical Faculty Educator, School of Midwifery
  • Bruce Wrightsman, Assistant Professor, McEwen School of Architecture
  • Danielle Yasko, Liaison Coordinator, Department of Liaison (new permanent role)

I look forward to working with all of you.

Laurentian University has also employed more than 200 Graduate Teaching Assistants and more than 350 students from July - October. 


Festive Gathering

And finally, as daylight draws shorter and the clocks are set back in the annual ritual of late Fall, I invite you to mark your calendars for the Festive Gathering on the afternoon of December 8. My wife Johanne and I look forward to welcoming you to celebrate the upcoming holiday season at 179 John Street.