The founding executive director of Laurentian University’s Goodman School of Mines is no stranger to the city. In the past, Bruce Jago has worked as an applied mineralogist and exploration director at Inco Ltd. and as the vice-president of exploration at Wallbridge Mining.
Most recently, Jago, who holds a PhD in geology, served as the CEO of Miocene Minerals in Vancouver. “This is the third time I’ll have lived in Sudbury,” he said, speaking to reporters after a Jan. 16 press conference at which his appointment was announced.
“This opportunity came up to come back east, and our family is in Ontario. It’s an amazing opportunity. So, third time lucky. I think we’re going to stay here for a long time.”
The school of mines, created last June, will focus on developing interdisciplinary majors and minors, creating new executive programs for those already in the industry, networking with other schools of mines, doubling the enrolment in mining-related programs by 2020 and continuing to improve student experience.
Beyond introducing Jago, university officials announced at the press conference the school of mines executive director position is being funded through a $500,000 gift from Franco-Nevada Corp.
Franco-Nevada is an $8-billion gold royalty company. David Harquail, the company’s CEO, said he was convinced to provide the funding because the company earns about 10 per cent of its revenues from mines in the Sudbury area.
“We thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “We are making money in Sudbury, so we’re giving back some of it.”
Jago is an ideal match for the job because he’s an industry insider, Harquail said. It’s a good thing to expose students to the idea that it’s possible to create wealth by their work in the mining industry, he said.
This isn’t the first large donation to the school of mines.
In October, Dundee Corp. CEO Ned Goodman lent his name to the school after donating a significant amount of money to the cause, although the exact amount has been kept confidential.
When asked what he intends to focus on first, Jago said he’d like to go after the “low-hanging fruit.”
This includes creating interdisciplinary majors and minors, thereby enhancing the skills of future professionals in mineral exploration and mining in areas such as occupational health and safety, mining management and finance, he said.
After that, “a lot of emphasis is going to be put on getting an MBA in mining here and a variety of management courses and so on,” Jago said. “That’s where some of the greatest need is.”
It makes perfect sense to have a school of mines at Laurentian University, which already has many mining and mineral exploration programs, he said. The university also sits in the middle of one of the biggest mining camps in the world, Jago said.
“The spinoffs for the community, for all the students and for the faculty are going to be enormous,” he said. “We will truly have an international stature.”
Laurentian president Dominic Giroux said the university hired Jago after a global recruitment effort by a search committee involving both Laurentian and industry officials. “But at the end of the day, the process was worth it in light of the successful candidate,” he said.
Jago has the unique qualification of both holding a PhD and having been the CEO of a mining company, Giroux said. “We’re really happy with the fact that we’ve been able to recruit someone of his talent to lead the school for the future.”
As for the Franco-Nevada donation, Giroux said that came about because FNX Mining founder Terry MacGibbon, the chair of the university’s The Next 50 fundraising campaign, introduced Laurentian officials to Harquail.
“Two weeks later, the full board of directors from Franco-Nevada came on campus, visited the facilities, met with the faculty and administrators, and now we’re here today, announcing their support for the position.”
Donations to the university, whether they’re from companies or individuals, or whether they’re $10 or $10 million, allow Laurentian to “go to the next level,” Giroux said.
Northern Life president Michael Atkins, the vice-chair of Laurentian’s board of governors, was also on hand for the announcement.
He said it’s good to see a candidate such as Jago who has expertise in dealing with the whole picture of mining – from creating a successful business to the social impacts it can have.
“This man can cover it all,” Atkins said. “To see this university just explode with talent, it’s fantastic.”
He said he’d love to see Laurentian become a “destination university.”
“It’s going to be a worldwide-respected institution where the best people come and the best people go forth in the Canadian tradition to pursue this industry around the world,” Atkins said.
“It’s building the level of expertise to a level you might not have imagined five years ago.”