President Brian Stevenson and Lakehead University Orillia scholarship winner Ivy Janisse
"In the true definition of 'inspire,' our students are breathing life into Lakehead University."— Brian Stevenson, PhD
2010-2011 has been an exciting year marked by historic firsts for me and for Lakehead University. My arrival began with the opening of the new LEED® building on the Orillia campus in September 2010, a testament to Lakehead's sincere commitment to environmental sustainability. This was followed 10 months later by the announcement of the Ontario government that the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities would fund the creation of a Faculty of Law at Lakehead's Thunder Bay campus.
Lakehead's Faculty of Law is the first faculty of law to be approved in Ontario in 42 years and it broadens the comprehensive nature of the University's academic offerings. Now, law will be added to the many other excellent professional programs Lakehead offers in the fields of business, education, engineering, medicine, natural resources management, nursing, and social work.
When we welcome our inaugural law students in 2013, they will be the first to experience our innovative curriculum offering specializations in Aboriginal law, natural resources law, and the requirements of sole proprietor and small legal firms.
Furthermore, I am pleased to report that Lakehead is now close to completing the work required to create a wireless campus. This work was initiated after informal consultations and an online survey/poll which showed that an overwhelming number of university stakeholders were in favour of the change. WiFi is now being installed in a sustainable and affordable way in select public spaces at both the Orillia and Thunder Bay campuses.
Last June I made my first trip to China, along with Lakehead's International Affairs Special Advisor Tony Williams, to foster our ties with a country that is the largest source of our international students. We made great strides in attracting qualified applicants by initiating partnerships with the Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai Campus, and the Anhui Agricultural University. I also had the chance to visit our new recruitment office in Beijing and to enjoy the cultural life of this thriving modern country with ancient roots.
Our recruitment efforts are not only confined to China. We are actively seeking students from Mexico and the Middle East and we are targeting international students already studying in Canada who are looking for an exceptional and affordable education that will advance their careers. This September, it was rewarding to see our hard work pay off when I greeted more than 100 new students from around the world at Lakehead's International Welcome Orientation.
In my first year as president, I have witnessed the remarkable spirit of our students and their accomplishments have inspired me. I think of the efforts of our Orillia athletes who, in the past year, formed their first varsity rowing and curling teams. And I am especially proud of the exciting new partnership that Lakehead has formed with the YMCA that allows all Orillia students access to YMCA facilities throughout the Simcoe/Muskoka region. Our Thunder Bay campus athletes were also impressive in their tenacity and spirit. Last year the men's basketball team was a powerhouse, winning the Ontario championships and taking home the Wilson Cup for the first time in team history. The women's Nordic skiing team likewise continued their winning ways, securing the Ontario championships for the seventh year in a row.
But Lakehead has also shown that true sport means more than just winning awards, it means reaching for the best within you and sharing it with others. Our hockey team and our athletics director, Tom Warden, showed us how this is done when they travelled north, through a partnership with Wasaya Airways, and spent a few days coaching Fort Hope First Nation children. In return, these wonderful kids taught our team a few lessons as well – lessons about life in the north, the love of hockey, and the universal language of sport.
It's evident that in the true definition of "inspire," our students are breathing life into Lakehead University. This past spring Lakehead's civil engineering students won first place and beat 47 other universities at the twentieth annual U.S. National Student Steel Bridge Competition in the United States − becoming the first Canadian team ever to win the competition.
I'm delighted that in my short time as president I have seen so many momentous achievements. The drive and dedication of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni guides me as together we work towards ensuring that Lakehead University continues to flourish. As I review the progress of the Orillia and Thunder Bay campuses, I am secure in my conviction of the transformative role Lakehead University students and alumni will continue to play in their communities and the world at large.