Column: Unmaking a university: Laurentian’s insolvency – by Dieter K. Buse (Sudbury Star – June 26, 2021)

Accent: Those responsible for turning LU into little more than a technical school have not been held to account

In Sudbury, as across the country, many are puzzled at the sudden declaration of insolvency by the local university. A relatively young institution at 60 years, it had slowly crawled up from being known as a “jock school” or “last chance u” to being a normal place of higher learning.

From being at the bottom of the rankings — if you believe in that sort of crude measurement — to among the top third of small universities, Laurentian defied all the starting strikes against it: first, existing in a working-class town formerly burdened with a reputation as a moonscape; second, overcoming the difficulties in recruiting top faculty and students to an unproven institution; and third, competing with established universities that had the benefit of donations from deep alumni pockets.

By the 1980s and 1990s, many Laurentian students who went to graduate school did well (one with a Rhodes scholarship) and others succeeded in nursing, commerce, finance, law, sciences, teaching and cultural fields.

Those who could not afford to go to one of the bigger, older schools discovered they were very well served near home. In the early decades, most students came from local, poorer backgrounds and many were among the first in their families to attain a university degree, so appreciated the opportunities.

By 2011, at its 50th birthday, the university had a bright outlook as its professors published many noteworthy books and won much research money, while its students came from across the province, the country and beyond.

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