The Start of a New Era at Lakehead University


Lakehead UniversityTHUNDER BAY – It is the start of a new era at Lakehead University. The educational facility in Thunder Bay has a new President. Dr. Brian Stevenson has now officially taken over from Dr. Fred Gilbert.

Taking a theme from Lakehead graduate Shy-Anne Hovorka, in his address to the University Audience, Stevenson shared how together “We can change the world”.

Lakehead University is more than the sum of its parts.

A university is a unique player in society. Its role is not only to educate. Its role is not only to do research. A university is at the center of change in our society.

Economically, a university is not just a passive player, bringing into the community the many financial benefits and spinoffs of the salaries of its staff, of the expenditures for its infrastructure, and the spending power of its students.

A university can be an active player in the economic development of a community. Its faculty, staff, students, and alumni can and should participate in creating an economic environment for prosperity and financial sustainability.

We can change this world.

A university can be an active player in the social development of a community, not only by the debate and discussion that can happen uniquely inside its gates. It can be an active player in changing the very nature of its society by providing opportunity, by validating and supporting the aspirations of the people in its community.

We can change this world.

This is why I chose to hold two events around the celebrations of my installation.

First, what is the role of the university in economic development? How can the University plan its future in conjunction with the economic development and aspirations of its communities? How can we actively help Thunder Bay, northwestern Ontario, Orillia, and Simcoe County?

Yesterday, we discussed and debated what we can do as an institution to be constructive and active players in economic development.

Second, how can the University engage Aboriginal communities to continue to increase the enrolment of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students? How can the University engage Aboriginal communities in supporting their economic development, in securing their cultural and linguistic heritage, and in improving the quality of life of their people?

Yesterday we heard from Dr. Phil Fontaine on how the university can support aboriginal peoples’ economic development. This morning we were inspired by Dr. Lloyd Axworthy who shared with us his vision for the role of the university in engaging aboriginal communities and higher education.
We can change this world.

Dr. Brian Stevenson was officially installed as the sixth president and vice-chancellor of Lakehead University, with campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia.

Since taking the helm of Lakehead University in August 2010, Dr. Stevenson has set his sights on taking the institution to the next level of excellence and growth among Canada’s comprehensive universities, with a focus on becoming one of Canada’s top 25 research-intensive universities. This goal, among other strategic priorities in the University’s three-year strategic plan, relies on increased activity among faculty and researchers in developing research initiatives that partner with communities.

In his address to a packed auditorium, Dr. Stevenson stressed that universities can change the world. According to Dr. Stevenson, universities exist not only to educate and do research – universities must be active players in economic development and the economic aspirations of society.

Stevenson also believes universities must engage First Nations communities, support their educational, cultural, and economic aspirations, and be instrumental in improving their quality of life. To this end Lakehead, which already has over 11% Aboriginal students, is embarking on an enhanced Aboriginal recruitment program.

Dr. Stevenson emphasizes, “Lakehead University can be an active player in changing the very nature of society by providing opportunity, and by validating the aspirations of the various peoples comprising its communities.”

Dr. Stevenson also touched on the importance of opening up global opportunities. He said, “By offering our voice and our abilities to a global community, Lakehead University can add the talent of its faculty, students, and staff to an increasingly globalized world.” Lakehead’s chair of the Board of Governors, Colin Bruce, states, “This is only Dr. Stevenson’s third month in office but we are already seeing positive changes. The Board is very pleased with the progress he has made so far.”

Since taking office on August 3 for a five-year term, Dr. Stevenson has met with various representatives and groups from area businesses to assess opportunities for Lakehead to play a more active role in strengthening the local economy in the communities it serves.

Lakehead University Chancellor Dr. Arthur Mauro, whose term began on January 1, 2010, said he looks forward to working with Dr. Stevenson and the Lakehead University Board of Governors to strengthen the University’s ties with business, government, and other community leaders in Thunder Bay, across Canada, and internationally.

Dr. Stevenson’s installation was attended by many distinguished guests, notably the Hon. John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, who addressed the assembly briefly; the Hon. Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry; Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg; Dr. Bob Rosehart, former President of Wilfrid Laurier University and Lakehead University; Dr. Michael Hawes, Executive Director of the Canada-US Fulbright Program; Dr. Daniel Woolf, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University; Dr. Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University and the Council of Ontario Universities (COU); Dr. David Perrin, President of St. Jerome’s University (University of Waterloo); and Dr. Richard Myers, President of Algoma University. Faculty, staff, alumni, representatives from the business community, friends, colleagues, and supporters of Lakehead University filled the Installation venue. The ceremony was preceded by a series of events including a regional conference on November 4 that presented expert speakers who discussed The Role of the University in Economic Development in the Community.

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