One year ago, Laurentian University faced a reckoning that was felt throughout our community, making the last 12 months a time of difficult but transformative change. All of this happened in the middle of a crippling global pandemic.
Collectively, we had to deal with some hard truths about the sustainability of our institution. It was a wake-up call on the need to rethink how we did things, whether we had the necessary tools to responsibly manage our resources and how best to serve our students in the future. For Laurentian to not only survive, but thrive, we had to find a bold new path.
Whether in sports, business or academia, rebuilds are rarely a popular option, because it means you will have to take your lumps for a while before things get better. It requires patience, persistence and resilience.
Our staff, faculty, and students have demonstrated those traits throughout the past year and I want to say how proud and thankful we are for their commitment and dedication to Laurentian.
It is in large part due to their efforts that we believe there are brighter days on the horizon, and that we have many positive things to work towards and look forward to.
None of this progress is done in isolation and developments over the last few weeks should serve to reinforce our commitment to emerge as a stronger, more financially sustainable university in the North. Those steps include:
- The Province providing a significant package of support, which included refinancing of the $35 million DIP (Debtor-in-Possession) loan facility that funds our restructuring, together with other financial support
- The Court granting an extension of the stay within the CCAA proceeding, to allow us to advance the critical steps that are necessary and bring us closer to emergence from CCAA
- The completion of significant independent reports on all aspects of the university’s operations and governance, which will allow us to thoughtfully consider and implement recommendations that will inform our transformation within the sector
- The ongoing renewal of the LU Board of Governors, which is a commitment we made to the continued strengthening of our governance process
While many of the solutions that will lead to our successful recovery will come from within the institution, in order to ensure that we are identifying all areas for improvement, we are working with independent, third-party counsel to help shape our future.
As such, we look forward to the release of the findings and recommendations from the independent Operational and Governance Reports. We know that the process of identifying areas for improvement is a critical step in our path to making the necessary changes, and we are committed to doing that. We are hopeful that the delivery of the reports will lead to constructive conversations with our stakeholders about how to help Laurentian be more responsive to the needs of students, our community, and ensure long-term financial sustainability.
If we want to succeed in making Laurentian stronger for decades to come, we must be flexible and nimble. That is why we undertook the difficult but necessary work to align our academic programming with student interests and market demand. The postsecondary space is highly competitive, and we cannot ignore the practical reality of having program and course offerings that reflect what students are interested in studying.
We must never forget that the success of our students is what drives us and that Laurentian is uniquely positioned to graduate bilingual leaders who will help foster the growth of the North and enhance its influence beyond our borders.
For more than 60 years, Laurentian University has been the heartbeat of our community, giving it a sense of pride, purpose and belonging.
I have no doubt we will prevail in implementing Laurentian’s mission of providing quality postsecondary education accessible to all – in a vibrant, bilingual and tricultural environment.