They say the return is always greater than the setback.
I remember this expression for what is currently happening at my alma mater. As an alumnus of Laurentian and a native of Sudburian, I have followed with great interest the ongoing “saga” surrounding the future of the school.
However, much to my dismay, most conversations focused on the past. I’m very proud of Laurentian’s history, but somehow I feel like I’m all innocent bystanders at the scene of an accident, wondering: what happened ? Who was at fault? No one saw this coming?
It’s good chatter, but it certainly doesn’t help us move forward.
I regret that the CCAA process was so brutal and although not optimal, it was not optional. Circumstances in college were a mess and now we have to let the process unfold. And in doing so, we must ensure that it informs the course correction the university needs to stay relevant and better meet the needs of our young people.
My disappointment with what happened at Laurentian has not made me despair because I know firsthand the resilience and determination of this community. We will not disappoint our students, our citizens and many industries that depend on Laurentian graduates.
So what needs to happen for Laurentian to regain its mojo and regain its relevance?
Having had a career in the mining industry, I am fascinated by the similarities between establishing the life of a mine and the evolution of a university. It’s a long game; it is an exciting game.
First, we have to start dreaming again. To imagine what a better future looks like for the next generation, for our community and for the North. We need to define our ambitions and then ensure that everything we do today enables our future. We must constantly test and refine the sustainability of our business model.
There is no turning back, there is no time to lament. The process will also require constant adaptation – things will change, not everything will work, so the university and the new leadership must remain nimble. I’m confident.
The opportunity before us is immense. When you look at demographics, the North faces an uphill battle for talent. With labor shortages anticipated on so many fronts over the next few years and the need to develop and retain our young people, college will be a key success factor.
It’s time for community, industry and civic leaders to step up. Laurentian is important and we need to rally our support.
After a difficult and emotionally charged year where our faith was shaken, it seems that we have finally reached the point where the question is no longer if but how Laurentian will pursue its mission.
Sometimes, whether in life, business, or academia, all you need is a chance for a fresh start. Against all odds, Laurentian has its chance.
Laurentian can be an accessible, affordable and above all responsible university serving young people in Northeastern Ontario and beyond.
Will the return be greater than the reverse?
The choice is ours.