December 1, 2021
In my most recent report to Laurentian University’s Senate, I took the opportunity to reflect on our collective journey of the past nine months, one that has been impacted by not one, but two “once-in-a-lifetime” events – the pandemic and the CCAA process – that tested us like never before.
It has ignited passionate debate about the future of our institution, the merits of bilingual education and the relevance of our tricultural mandate.
And while there are countless lessons to learn from our storied past and recent challenges, I believe we’ll get through this even stronger, thanks to the quality and dedication of the people of the Laurentian community.
As we approach the end of a tumultuous yet transformative year, I wanted to provide you with an update on the progress we’ve made, as well as some measure of clarity about the hard tasks that remain as we forge ahead toward a more sustainable future.
It’s been an intensely busy fall where our students have, in many ways, led the charge in pushing us forward through their positive outlook and can-do attitude.
The most recent enrollment data certainly gives us reason to be cautiously optimistic.
With nearly 8,000 individual students currently enrolled at Laurentian University for the Fall 2021 semester in 106 academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, thousands of students continue to place their trust in the academic programs, faculty members and community that support their education.
It’s encouraging to see that the student demand for Laurentian University is still present and signals that we are an important part of Ontario’s postsecondary system and a critical institution supporting the growth of northern Ontario.
For more than 60 years, Laurentian has been a hub of culture, industry, art, science and politics, proud of the significant contributions made by Francophones and Indigenous people at the heart of our institution.
It may have been an imperfect union at times, but our goal has always been to make it a place where respect, unity and harmony are celebrated.
We look to Laurentian’s core values to guide us into the future as an institution that’s dedicated to the North, one that builds relationships across communities, where the measure of our success is our students’ success.
And so, what is our vision for the future?
We will go forward as a primarily undergraduate university, contributing research that is Northern-focused, regionally relevant and globally impactful. As a result of our academic restructuring, we now offer 106 consolidated programs, including 33 in French, 73 in English, with 33 at the graduate level. These programs must continue to evolve in order to ensure that Laurentian’s offerings meet the changing needs of the North and Ontario.
Our academic program offerings are aligned with student demand and the needs of employers in the North. For the past decade, Laurentian has been at the top of its class with respect to the employment of our graduates: 94% of Laurentian graduates are employed after just six months and 98% are employed after two years.
These outcomes matter. This strong performance does not occur – or disappear – overnight.
As we continue the hard work of restructuring the university, we’re committed to rebuilding engagement and trust with our communities, and defining our vision collegially.
When it comes to shaping the future of Laurentian, we welcome and embrace constructive dialogue. Over the last few weeks, I’ve met with different stakeholder groups where the tone has been cordial and the conversation focused on turning challenges into opportunities.
Which leaves us with the question on everyone’s mind: When will we finally emerge from CCAA proceedings?
The focus over the past month has been to support the finalization of the Real Estate Review, support the Operational and Governance Review and to advance the review of claims filed as part of the claims process, as well as maintain ongoing dialogues with stakeholders and responding to their requests. These are necessary steps to be taken, as they are critical components of the Plan of Arrangement that we must bring forward and negotiate with our creditors.
Laurentian looks forward to demonstrating its continued progress to the Court in January, and to completing all the work necessary to successfully exit CCAA at the earliest possible date. The operational and governance reviews that were undertaken by the Nous Group will include recommendations that will make the university stronger and more sustainable. These are positive steps which reflect that Laurentian is moving forward, rather than looking back.
We still have many things to be completed and several months to go in order to be in a position to present a formal Plan of Arrangement to our creditors for a vote, which is a precondition to emerging. Know that we will continue to work diligently to complete those steps, notwithstanding the limited resources available.
Through it all, we’ve been inspired by the resilience and determination of our faculty, staff and students.
The young people who pass through the halls of our university are essential to the social, cultural and economic development of our communities. They’re the reason we continue to press forward toward a renewed Laurentian University – where being a bilingual university in a tricultural environment is something we cherish – and will preserve.
Thank you, Miigwech,
Robert Haché, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor