Lakehead University Alumni Magazine

President's Perspective

Imagining the Future

Brian Stevenson, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor, Lakehead University
Published July 10, 2012

The fifth-century Chinese general Sun Tzu proclaimed, "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." As Lakehead University enters a pivotal phase in its history, we are applying the insights of this master strategist to create an institution adapted to the challenges of the twenty-first century.

The many achievements of the past year – from the hiring of our Founding Dean of Law Lee Stuesser to collaborating with Parks Canada to protect Lake Superior's watershed and ecosystems – did not happen by accident.

They have arisen from carefully laid groundwork, planning, and countless hours of hard work. I'm incredibly grateful for the support of our Senate, Board of Governors, faculty, and staff who are always ready to roll up their sleeves and work as a team for the good of the University.

President Brian Stevenson and Founding Dean of Law Lee Stuesser
Lakehead President Brian Stevenson and Founding Dean of Law Lee Stuesser in front of PACI, Thunder Bay

From this process has sprung the Academic Plan 2012-2017 and the Draft Strategic Plan 2013-18. These blueprints for shaping Lakehead's future are ambitious and bold – as they have to be in this time of economic uncertainty and changing expectations about the role of universities.

The creation of these two foundational documents has been an energizing experience. Administration and faculty have not been afraid to question, to listen honestly, and to be open to new ideas.

This has resulted in an Academic Plan that revolves around five priorities: excellence in teaching, learning, and research; extending community engagement; strengthening our commitment to social justice; expanding our international reach; and enhancing support of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students.

The launch of our Achievement Program this past spring is just one example of how we are actively engaging with the community and supporting their aspirations. The Achievement Program will encourage First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and other children who face barriers to post-secondary education to finish high school and enable them to earn credits towards tuition fees at Lakehead.

The Academic Plan, which was accepted by the Senate in March, and the Draft Strategic Plan are working in tandem to define Lakehead's vision. Both plans affirm the importance of creating a student-centred learning experience and giving our graduates the skills to become independent thinkers with a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility.

We see the results of this approach to education every day and across all disciplines, such as the work music students are doing with elderly residents in long-term care homes to improve their quality of life.

The Draft Strategic Plan also emphasizes the importance of nurturing scholarship through teaching and research and this is an area in which Lakehead is gaining national and international recognition. Our researchers are contributing to Canada's knowledge economy and embarking on partnerships with industry and government to stimulate the economies of Northern and Central Ontario. Our Biorefining Institute is revitalizing the forestry sector and our proposed Centre of Excellence in Mineral Exploration and Sustainable Mining Development will accelerate Northern Ontario's drive to become a leading Canadian mining hub.

As the Draft Strategic Plan goes through its internal consultation phase that concludes in November 2012, I am convinced that Lakehead will emerge as a stronger and more responsive institution.

Kathy Pozihun
Kathy Pozihun (HBCom‘92) incoming VP, Finance and Administration

And we have been fortunate to welcome new additions to our senior administration team who share the commitment of the University community to making the goals and dreams of these plans a reality.

Deb Comuzzi, who arrives in August to take on the role of vice-president, external relations, will facilitate our shift to greater community engagement and build on the already rewarding relationship we have with our alumni and volunteers. Kathy Pozihun, a Lakehead alum, is taking the reins from another Lakehead alum — our extremely capable retiring Vice-President Finance and Administration Michael Pawlowski (Dip Bus'69, HBCom'71).

Leigh-Ellen Keating, our recently hired director of Lakehead International, will further our quest to attract the brightest scholars from across the globe while Toby Goodfellow, director of the newly-created media relations department, will raise Lakehead's profile using multiple platforms.

This combination of sound strategy and a loyal team dedicated to its execution leaves no doubt that Lakehead University will shine as one of Canada's educational innovators.

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