Lakehead University Alumni Magazine

Campus News

Published July 20, 2014
Derek and Joan standing in front of logo
CESME supporters Derek and Joan Burney

CESME Mining Fellowship

In May, Lakehead Chancellor Derek H. Burney and his wife Joan announced a generous $150,000 gift. The money will be used to establish the first fellowship with Lakehead's Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration (CESME) – a centre supporting research, education, and outreach activities with a special focus on Northern Ontario. The Derek and Joan Burney Postdoctoral Fellowship will strengthen CESME by funding a three-year bridging position for a researcher who is between their PhD and a faculty position. The Burney's hope their donation will inspire others to support Lakehead.

Mexican Partnership

Lakehead has signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with three indigenous intercultural universities in Mexico – the Intercultural University of the State of Mexico, the Mayan Intercultural University of Quintana Roo, and the Intercultural University of Chiapas. These agreements will set the stage for enhanced educational opportunities and internationalization. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Lakehead's point person for these agreements, believes the MOUs will "strengthen new and existing partnerships, foster vibrant student exchanges, and promote cross-cultural excellence."

group photo outside entrance of Simcoe Hall
During the ceremony, County of Simcoe Warden Cal Patterson expressed pride "in knowing that students will study in the newly named Simcoe Hall for generations to come."

Simcoe Hall Unveiled

The County of Simcoe's exceptional support of Lakehead Orillia was celebrated on April 24, 2014. Simcoe County and Lakehead University representatives, including Lakehead President Brian Stevenson, gathered for the official unveiling of Simcoe Hall (formerly the Academic Building). Since 2009, the County of Simcoe has contributed approximately $3.5 million to Lakehead. "Without the County," President Stevenson said, "Lakehead University would not be in Orillia today."

New Orillia Research Centre

The proposal to establish a "Research Centre for Sustainable Communities" at the Orillia campus was officially approved by the Lakehead Senate in March 2014. The new Centre will make unique and significant research contributions in areas promoting sustainable communities including political economy, environmental sustainability, and social justice. The Centre will benefit from the diverse research expertise of Orillia faculty, such as Interdisciplinary Studies Research Committee members Curtis Fogel, Serajul Islam, Sandra Jeppesen, Nanda Kanavillil, Sree Kurissery, Thamara Laredo, Chris Murray, Florin Pendea, and Rosario Turvey. Plans are underway to officially launch the Centre this fall.

Protecting Lake Simcoe

A local Orillia business has played a key role in launching a research project that could help improve the health of Lake Simcoe. Staff at McLean and Dickey Insurance Brokers connected the Couchiching Conservancy and Lakehead University with the Intact Foundation. Intact has generously agreed to fund a water-quality monitoring project on the ecologically sensitive Carden Plain where cattle grazing is the dominant agricultural activity. The traditional source of water for the cattle has been streams leading into Lake Simcoe. The Carden Plain is an alvar habitat that supports rare vegetation and invertebrate species. The Conservancy is working with area ranchers to provide alternative water sources and Lakehead researchers will test the impact of these actions.

Call for 2015 Honorary Degree Nominations

The Senate Honorary Degrees Committee invites all members of the Lakehead University community to submit nominations for honorary degree recipients. The degrees will be awarded at Convocation ceremonies in Thunder Bay and Orillia. Lakehead University grants honorary degrees to individuals whose extraordinary achievements and remarkable service support the values of advanced learning and the pursuit of knowledge.

Visit the University Secretariat's website for more information and to access the nomination form: secretariat/awards/honourary-degree

Please send your nominations to:

University Secretariat, Lakehead University,
955 Oliver Road, UC 2004,
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 5E1
Jordan and Peter standing with cheque in front of the gym reception counter
Jordan Cash (left) presents Peter Panetta with a cheque for $1,035

MBA Student Helps Underground Gym

Jordan Cash, a master of business administration student, wanted to volunteer as a boxing instructor at the Underground Gym and Youth Centre in Thunder Bay but his busy school schedule made this impossible. So instead, he organized a fundraiser called MBAs Care. "I want people to know that Lakehead MBA students care about this community," Jordan said. He contributed money from a $200 scholarship he received from Mirabelli Corp. as well as money left over from his student loan, stock dividends, and a lottery ticket. His MBA classmates and business administration faculty members were also eager to chip in, helping Jordan raise more than $1,000. Peter Panetta, the founder of the Underground Gym, explained that the donation will help keep the youth centre open. "This is huge for us," Panetta said. "The timing couldn't have been better." The Underground Gym gives youth in need free access to mentoring, meals, and activities and is dedicated to promoting respect, self-confidence, and healthy lifestyles.

Norm Lavoie standing with his wife Bev in front of trees in full bloom
Norm and his wife Bev share a happy moment

In Memoriam: Professor Norm Lavoie

Norman 'Norm' LaVoie, an exceptional man who helped shape Lakehead University, passed away on February 23, 2014. Norm was Lakehead's director of physical education and athletics (1988–1994) and a professor emeritus. He graduated from the University of Windsor (BA'65 in Economics and B.Phys.Ed'66) before marrying Patricia 'Tish' Stewart. He then earned an MA in Physical Education (1969) and a PhD in Exercise Physiology (1972) from the University of Alberta.

1972 was also the year that Norm joined Lakehead as a physiology professor with Lakehead's School of Physical Education and Athletics and embarked upon a distinguished 30-year-career. Tish, sadly, died in 2001 shortly before Norm's retirement.

In 2007, Norm married Bev Bicknell who was a valued member of the Lakehead University community. Bev worked in several Lakehead departments including the Office of the President, Continuing Education and Distance Learning, and Human Resources. Bev shared Norm's love of travel and camping and together they had many adventures.

Norm LaVoie had a lasting impact on Lakehead University. He encouraged and guided students in their academic and athletic pursuits, helped create the Lakehead Sports Medicine Clinic, was a key contributor to the naming of the 'Thunderdome' gymnasium, and chaired the committee that hosted three national women's basketball championships. Norm was inducted into Lakehead's Athletics Wall of Fame in 2011 and he also received a J.P. Loosemore Award from Ontario University Athletics for lifelong contributions to university sport in Ontario.

Donations may be made to the Dr. Norm and Tish LaVoie Bursary in care of Lakehead University by visiting or by calling Philanthropy Associate Lee-Anne Camlin at 807-346-7792. The family also welcomes donations to a charity of your choice.

group photo
Committed to making the world more sustainable: (l-r) Crystal Ferguson, Katelyn Weel, Professor Sree Kurissery, Janelle Benallick, and Amanda Grant

First Environmental Sustainability Grads

The inaugural class of Lakehead Orillia's Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science in Environmental Sustainability graduated at the June 7, 2014 Convocation ceremony. Interdisciplinary Studies Professor Sree Kurissery led the development of this groundbreaking specialization in 2009 in order to train professionals able to address environmental problems using science-based solutions. It is the first program created at the Orillia campus and the first Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science - Environmental Sustainability major in Canada.

Summer School on Medical Imaging

Scientists with the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute (TBRRI) and Lakehead University welcomed students to the 2014 Summer School on Medical Imaging (SSMI). Now in its fourth year, the SSMI is a 16-week, multidisciplinary program designed to create the next generation of highly skilled professionals in the field of medical imaging – one of the most important tools for the future of medicine. "We want these students to understand and define research successes in the context of current and future patient needs, their communities, business and industry needs, and their own careers," said Alla Reznik, Lakehead's Canada Research Chair in Physics of Molecular Imaging and Photoconductors for Radiation Medical Imaging.

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