[Sudbury's Laurentian University mining education] LU reaches for the top – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – September 1, 2012)posted in Mining Education and Innovation |
The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Perhaps the seed was planted one night in a five-star dream — an omen for the next five years detailing grandeur of the academic kind. Dominic Giroux, the president and vice-chancellor of Laurentian University, announced in June the board of directors had approved the budget for the school’s five-year strategic plan (2012-17). Developing the plan was a labour of love, which required 12 months and hundreds of stakeholder consultations. Giroux was wary of developing a one-size-fits-all plan, with the committee opted instead for a signature document that is undoubtedly Laurentian.
“Often universities develop very long and extensive strategic plans that convey their commitments to excellence in teaching, research and community engagement, but it’s hard to distinguish their true strategic directions from other universities,” he says. “One of the reasons we’re proud of our strategic plan is that if you remove the words ‘Laurentian University,’ anyone who reads it will recognize Laurentian.”
The plan is ambitious and broad. In just 20 pages it addresses student satisfaction, academic excellence, community engagement and national recognition, a point of which Giroux is especially proud. It plays on the school’s established strengths and takes advantage of its geographic location.
“First and foremost, we want to distinguish Laurentian with its superior student experience, which is why it’s our first strategic goal,” he says. “But we know that we can’t be everything to everyone, so even though we offer a comprehensive range of programs, both in English and in French, we’ve carefully selected 14 undergraduate and five graduate programs where we’re making the additional commitment of investing more money between now and 2017. It absolutely does not mean we’re not supporting the liberal arts and social sciences and so forth, but there are niche programs for which we’re known nationally and we want to build on that track record.”
Designed “outside the box,” Giroux says, the School of Mines emphasizes management, not research, and is aimed at developing and enhancing the skills of the mining industry’s corporate leaders.
THE SCHOOL OF MINES
“The School of Mines is an academic centre within the university, which is integrated in its existing structure, focusing on engineering, mineral exploration and related disciplines,” says Francois Caron, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, and the interim director of the School of Mines.
“It serves as a centre that will help align our offerings in the different disciplines with a mining focus … There is no specific degree that belongs to the School of Mines, but options within existing degrees constitute a strong part of the mission.”
As an inter-disciplinary institute with options for undergraduates, graduate students and mid-career professionals, Caron says he believes the School of Mines will promote innovation within the mining industry, and will support research by engaging academics and linking universities to industry experts.
It will offer mining-related degrees, professional and executive-level courses, short courses, workshops and certificates. There is a lot of support for the school and a $20-million endowment fund has already been created to sustain it.
“It’s a new concept that we’re really excited about because it will allow Laurentian to really be responsive to the needs of the mineral exploration and mining industry,” Giroux says. “It will really consolidate Laurentian’s position as the go-to university in Canada for mining and mineral exploration.”
Dick DeStefano, executive director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association, collaborated in conceptualizing the School of Mines.
“Establishing a School of Mines had been on my mind for a number of years while we built the mining supply cluster in Sudbury,” DeStefano says. “But I had a specific idea, which would enhance the value of the cluster and was based on an autonomous body located on the Laurentian campus — separate and distinct from the engineering program — that would be international in scope and provide a centre of excellence for mining supply owners and executives.”
Giroux and DeStefano have global aspirations for the school, and DeStefano is optimistic it will launch in 2013. A recruitment committee is currently in place and the project has been given the green light by Laurentian faculty and industry representatives.
“I have a vision the School of Mines management program will create synergies and expertise that will improve the capabilities of corporate leaders worldwide, and especially in Northern Ontario,” DeStefano says. “We have competent people running companies that need new ideas on management techniques and new operational ideas that will grow their businesses and expand their horizons. This will place the Sudbury cluster where it belongs internationally — as the centre of excellence in all things mining.”
For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2012/09/02/accent-lu-reaches-for-the-top