This speech was given by Dominic Giroux, during the Goodman School of Mines Cocktail Reception at the King Edward Hotel, Toronto, Ontario on May 15, 2013
Good evening – bienvenue – aanii, boozhoo. Thank you all for being here, to share in this special occasion. And thank you to our gracious host, Ned Goodman.
I will keep my remarks relatively short. My role tonight is to give you a snapshot of Laurentian University. And that’s exactly why I say “relatively short”, because when I start talking about Laurentian University or what I like to call the “academic resort of Ontario” – 750 acres surrounded by 5 lakes, a golf course, and a supervised beach – I can truly go on for hours.
We are one of the fastest growing universities in Canada: we’ve grown from six to ten thousand students in the past decade, while increasing our average entry grade.
We’re very proud of our small class sizes. What makes the student’s experience unique at Laurentian is this proximity, this interaction, with faculty. 17% of our students are enrolled in French language programs and 10% of our students are aboriginal students—an important and growing proportion of our student population).
We’re proud of the fact that our research intensity has been growing annually. We’re among the top 3 in Canada in terms of total sponsored research, largely due to our award-winning research centers and our exceptional faculty.
On May 14th,the Honourable Gary Goodyear announced that Laurentian University will lead a unique $12M research project – the largest Collaborative Research and Development grant ever awarded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
This multi-year project known as “Footprints” will involve more than 40 researchers in geosciences from universities across Canada, with Laurentian’s Dr. Michael Lesher, Research Chair, Mineral Exploration and Professor of Economic Geology co-leading this important research. “Footprints” is expected to enhance the ability of geologists to assess the range, depth and composition of ore-bodies and mineral deposits, even those lying hundreds of metres underground.
Laurentian’s track record has in fact, been noticed by national media. Maclean’s wrote a story about two years ago highlighting three Canadian Universities “on the move”, and Laurentian University was one of them.
Adam Radwanski wrote a full-page feature in The Globe and Mail a few years ago. The headline was: “Sudbury, the unlikely magnet for global education,” and the sub-headline was, “Laurentian has buzz.”
Recently, The Globe and Mail did a two-week series about higher education and the transformation needed in higher education. Day 1 of that 2-week series was an editorial called “How to raise the quality of post-secondary education,” and there was one university highlighted, and it was Laurentian University because of the university’s strategic plan.
A lot of strategic plans go on and on – some of you will be familiar with this phenomenon – and on, and on, for 25 pages.
This is not the case at Laurentian. Our Strategic Plan is 2 pages long; it’s tightly focused and clearly stated.
We’ve made choices, tough choices, but essentially we have chosen excellence. We’re focusing on those particular areas where we excel, where we really can be the best in Canada and in the world–one of those, obviously, being mineral exploration and mining. This was due in part to the influence of several of our board members, who said “please focus this university so that we can differentiate ourselves from other Canadian universities.”
You’ve probably seen lately, in the media, a lot of news about the mismatch or perceived mismatch of graduates from higher education and the labour market. We’re proud of the fact that we are the university with the highest post-graduation employment rate in Ontario. Again, that is because we have made selective choices as to where to grow and where not to grow.
Let me highlight for you a few of the programs we really like to brag about:
there’s our award-winning school of engineering. Our Bharti School of Engineering won the last Canadian Engineering Challenge in 2010 after winning the provincial competition two years in a row. Laurentian has won the Canadian Mining Games more often than any other university- 8 times in the competition‘s 23 year history.
Laurentian engineering students won the 2011 NASA Lunabotics Competition. Of the 40 competitors from around the world, Laurentian was one of only two Canadian universities invited to compete.
And just three weeks ago, Laurentian University PhD student Kim Trapany won “best graduate student” and “best scientist” titles in the economics and management category, at the International Forum-Competition of Young Researchers in Russia.
Students from more than 70 universities in 21 countries participated in the competition, which was held as part of the Problems of Mineral Exploration forum at the National Mineral Resources University in St. Petersburg.
We have a top-notch department of Earth Sciences, and faculty members, several of whom are here tonight, have a strong record of publications and seamless liaison interactions.
We have colleagues from our medical school, the first new school of medicine to open in Canada in over 40 years. Ninety per cent of its students come from Northern Ontario; the average entry grade is above the national average. People underestimated the med school: “A med school in the North could not be successful”.
Well since 2009, NOSM learners have matched 100 percent to their residency program of choice. That’s three years in a row – a feat that has not occurred at other Canadian medical schools in more than a decade. And our NOSM students have reached the top of the national class with the highest qualifying test scores in Canada. NOSM students finished first among 17 medical schools in Canada in performance and achieved a 100% pass rate.
So I guess it’s been pretty successful!
We have other programs we can talk about. For example: forensic science. We are happy to trumpet the fact that Laurentian University has the only FEPAC (Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission) accredited programs in forensic science in Canada.
For those of you who have not visited our campus in a few years, a lot has changed. Since 2005, over 100 million dollars in capital projects has been invested and Rick Bartolucci has been instrumental in securing many of them.
The Vale Living With Lakes Center, a 20 million dollar project; the new school of education, another 20 million dollar project. Two new student residences, the medical school, the expansion of the Ben Avery facilities. And now our plans include the new downtown school of architecture which is about to open this fall, a significant modernization of the Sudbury campus (over 15 million dollars) and a new campus in downtown Barrie, where we currently serve about 1000 students.
And as you know, success attracts success, and that has clearly translated to our great success on the Next 50 campaign. Under the leadership of Terry McGibbon and many volunteers on the fundraising cabinet, over $64.2 million dollars was raised – our goal heading into this ambitious campaign was $50 million. This is the largest fundraising campaign ever held in the history of Northern Ontario.
And my last example or evidence of our success has been the increase in our applications for this fall. Our applications from high school graduates are up 25%, which is the highest increase recorded by any Ontario university.
This leads me to talk about the Goodman School of Mines. When I joined the university in 2009, I was able to witness firsthand the success stories, and the level of excellence of our programs in Earth Sciences and Engineering. But I also had the opportunity to ask Fred Stanford to serve in a volunteer capacity as Executive in Residence, to help us sharpen our focus. Fred was instrumental in advising us how to better meet the needs of industry, and how to produce more graduates for the future to address the shortage of skills.
So with this, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the Founding Executive Director of the Goodman School of Mines who will lead us in our 5 objectives. We aim to:
• Enhance skills of future professionals in mineral exploration and mining
• Drive the creation of executive programs at undergrad & grad levels, in modular, short-course or distance education formats
• Formalize new provincial, national, international alliances with other post-secondary institutions, putting LU at centre of International Network of Schools of Mines
• Improve university experience for students in Earth Sciences and Engineering…
• AND double enrolment in mining-related programs by 2020.
Our Founding Director has worked as a mineralogist – an exploration manager – and a mining company executive.
He is a Professional Geologist, and a Ph.D., who has served on the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
He has direct experience with academe — fieldwork — human resources — and health and safety.
His work has taken him from the Northwest Territories, to British Columbia, to northern Ontario – and to Venezuela and Brazil. He knows nickel – gold – platinum – diamonds. And as the president and CEO of a mining exploration company with assets in BC, he was directly responsible for crafting and putting in place a successful First Nations Engagement Policy.
I could go on… but I’m sure you can already see that we have indeed « struck it rich » with Dr. Bruce Jago. Please join me in welcoming him to the podium.