Lakehead University Alumni Magazine

Editor's Message

At the Centre of Change

by France Harding
Published April 28, 2011


 Brian J.R. Stevenson

Lakehead’s new president was installed last November at a beloved Thunder Bay landmark –– the former Port Arthur Collegiate Institute building, which is now owned by the University and has been fully renovated.

In true Lakehead fashion, Brian Stevenson’s installation address struck the perfect balance between formality and folksiness, giving everyone in attendance the opportunity to learn more about his personality and his vision for the future. (Read more in Sheldon Gordon’s profile of Brian Stevenson in this issue).

In his speech, the president said that universities are the centre of change in our society. “The University is more than the sum of its parts and Lakehead University, with its roots in two communities, recognizes that great education and economic development are deeply intertwined.”

The day before the president’s installation, Lakehead hosted a conference at its Thunder Bay campus on The Role of the University in Economic Development. The conference brought together more than 200 leaders in the community including The Hon. Michael Gravelle, Minister, Northern Development, Mines, and Forestry; Dawn Desjardins, Assistant Chief Economist, RBC; Bob Rosehart, former president of Wilfrid Laurier University and Lakehead University; Stefan Larson, CEO of Tornado Medical Systems; and Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations now a special advisor to RBC.

Then, in February 2011, Lakehead hosted a conference on the same topic at its Orillia campus, attracting more than 120 participants and featuring six speakers, including Warren Jestin, Chief Economist of ScotiaBank.

Eric Zakrewski, a Thunder Bay entrepreneur and a new member of the Lakehead University Board of Governors, is helping Lakehead increase its connections with the corporate sector, particularly in the engineering and mining sectors. In March 2011, his company True Grit Consulting Ltd., sponsored a reunion of Lakehead geology graduates in Toronto in conjunction with the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Eric believes that Lakehead must continue to strive to meet and exceed the changing demands of the private sector in the preparation of its graduates. “The University should embrace its alumni and really listen to them to find out where they have been successful and where they think their sector is headed,” he said. “By doing so, Lakehead has the opportunity of positioning itself as a recognized leader.”

At his installation last fall, President Brian Stevenson called upon everyone in the community to reach out and embrace the ideals, hopes, and dreams of Lakehead University. “Because,” he said “they are your ideals, your hopes, and your dreams.”

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