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Welcome to the Fall Academic Term

September 18, 2019


The Fall Academic term is in full swing at Laurentian University. It is with great pleasure that I welcome all new and returning students, staff and faculty members for what is shaping up to be an academic year filled with opportunity.

This was my first orientation week at Laurentian University, although I am no stranger to residence move-in weekend. From my own time in University, to being a faculty member, and even now as a parent, I admire the sense of community that I’ve felt while conversing with students and parents at the move-in weekend events on campus. Laurentian’s Welcome certainly beats the congestion, long walks with full arms, and the work it out for yourself Welcome Events that I experienced with my children at other institutions.

This sense of community was also in evidence as I had the pleasure of welcoming international students to Laurentian as part of an earlier onboarding and schedule of preparatory sessions. The diversity that our international students bring to our campus is extremely important. The value of their perspectives and knowledge is essential in bringing global perspectives to our classroom discussions. We have students from more than 60 countries around the world who will be calling Sudbury home for the next academic year. Welcome to all of you.

Furthermore, the Laurentian University Alumni Association hosted events for incoming students off campus within the community of Greater Sudbury. A special thank you to our location hosts, including, Twiggs, Cousin Vinny’s (Chelmsford and Hanmer), and Alley Katz, for providing the opportunity for Laurentian University Alumni to connect with our new students, and provide an opportunity to develop mentoring relationships within the Laurentian University community.

Staff and faculty have ensured that there was a long list of activities, both academic and student life related, for new students to enjoy. From a drive-in movie night, to walking art tours of the downtown core, orientation week has been jam packed this year to offer students the opportunity to meet new people, interact with members of the community, and most of all, integrate new students to our community. Congratulations to all staff, faculty and those who participated in this wonderful lineup of activities.

Orientation week is the result of multiple groups coming together to organize activities, these groups include: Executive Councils and staff of the Student General Association (SGA), Associations des Etudiant Francophone and the Graduate Student Associations (GSA). Student leaders have worked diligently over the summer to ensure that student voices and concerns are heard, not only locally, but as university students across Canada. This spring I had the pleasure of meeting with SGA President Eric Chappell and Acting GSA President Amber Tooley to discuss their priorities in the coming year, and look forward to working with all of the student leaders to ensure student success in the upcoming year. 

The SGA is also gearing up for the completion of the new Student General Association building, which is located adjacent to the West Residence Building and faces the Welcome Centre Atrium of the Parker building. I look forward to joining the SGA this fall for its grand opening.

The cheerfulness and energy that could be felt around campus during the first week of school was extremely contagious. There is a great deal of optimism for a spectacular academic year, and I look forward to seeing these great things unfold. 


Looking Forward This Fall

Status of Enrolment  
As with all early reporting systems, I like to remain cautiously optimistic, but we have received positive signs of growth in our early numbers of enrolment data. Registration numbers indicate that we are tracking in line with our budgeted forecast for 2019. We are slightly up over this time last year and as enrolments continue through the registration deadline, we look forward to providing updates. So far, our enrolment  is growing in our graduate student programs, our online programs, and in our international students. 


As we begin a new academic term, it is also the jumpstart to a new recruitment cycle for our Liaison team and members of our faculty and administration. The end of September brings together a team of individuals who have been preparing for the annual Ontario University’s Fair, which draws more than 130,000 around 50,000 prospective students and their families to learn more about Ontario’s universities.

University recruitment efforts can be divided between off-campus and on-campus activities with two distinct groups of individuals: those who are currently enrolled in secondary school in Ontario, and those enrolled in secondary schools out of province. The fall academic term will see Liaison representatives travel to secondary schools within the province of Ontario, such as an upcoming visit to Timmins for the “Foires des destinations postsecondaires,” as well as Franco-centric tours of New Brunswick, Quebec, and Manitoba french language secondary schools.

On campus, Liaison traditionally welcomes more than 450 visitors on campus during the fall months, in addition to specialty events for recruitment. On Saturday, November 2, 2019, our Fall Open House will be held. This event traditionally welcomes upwards of 1,500 prospective students and their families to campus. If you’re interested in joining us, the open house runs from 10 am to 4 pm. Additionally, we will also host a parents night for local parents of Grade 12 students to be held on December 4 (English session) and December 5 (French session).

It is an exciting time for recruitment initiatives, and I would like to thank all of the individuals who work diligently to showcase all of the wonderful opportunities here at Laurentian University. Miigwetch. Merci. 


Ongoing Retention Efforts
Recruitment of students is a priority for Laurentian University, however, the success of our students is of utmost importance.  It is our commitment to provide the tools and supports that students require for successfully completing their studies at Laurentian University. Laurentian University’s student retention rate for 1-2 years is currently 85.1%. This retention rate is the highest Laurentian University has seen in our year-over year comparisons, and success can be attributed to the retention activities that have been employed on campus. These activities include:

  • Together, the Liaison department and the Centre for Academic Excellence (CAE) developed a coordinated approach for connecting with incoming students. Twenty three high schools were visited, and more than 900 students benefited from discussing how to make a smooth transition into Laurentian University from their secondary school.
  • A campus-wide collaboration led to the launch of the Student Planning tool which allows students to register with ease, explore different degree options and see and update their full degree plan.
  • The CAE Transitions team hosted 30 Summer Registration clinics for incoming students in English, French, on-campus and online, with additional sessions in Mandarin.
  • A two-week new student orientation was launched with input from 75+ members of the Laurentian community to align events guided by learning outcomes related to: academic success, engaging with our beautiful campus, supporting wellness, and participating in the diverse Laurentian community.

Congratulations to all of those who have worked on the improved retention rates for our students. Students are experiencing the results of your work, and will continue to benefit on their journey to convocation. Miigwetch. Merci. 


Strategic Mandate Agreement 3
On September 4, 2019, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities launched the official process for the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA3) for colleges and universities. The Strategic Mandate Agreement is an agreement with the government which highlights the institutions priorities. Strategic Mandate Agreement 3 will be submitted by March 30, 2020. Laurentian University will be working closely with our colleagues at the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities to prepare our submission throughout the fall. Bilateral discussions will begin in October, and will focus on the following deliverables: establishing notional performance/outcomes-based funding for institutions; setting performance targets against the ten metrics; confirming the weightings that institutions will assign to each of these metrics; and, establishing institutional narratives that will contextualize metric performance.


Installation Ceremony and Convocation
On October 26, 2019, Laurentian University will host fall 2019 convocation for approximately  350 students. It will also be memorable for me because the ceremony will include my official installation as the 11th President and Vice-Chancellor for Laurentian University. It will be held in the morning ceremony of convocation, and I look forward to sharing with you, the details of this wonderful occasion. 


In closing, this is an exciting time of year at Laurentian University. I am pleased to be here as your new President and Vice-Chancellor. I am looking forward to continuing our conversations, and as always, my door is open to all of you.

Best wishes for a successful academic term.

Merci. Thank you. Miigwech.