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President’s Message: Building on a strong foundation

It has been an exciting fall at Laurier. The strategic plans implemented in recent years have generated a momentum that continues to yield significant benefits for the entire university.

For the third year in a row, strong first-year application numbers have been successfully converted into acceptance confirmations and we welcomed another outstanding cohort of high-quality students in September.

While this suggests that Laurier remains an attractive choice for students, we also learned recently that Maclean’s magazine had, for the second consecutive year, ranked Laurier No. 1 in the country in its category for student satisfaction. Digging into the criteria, we find that the No. 1 ranking was based on a broad range of factors — Laurier was No. 1 for course instructors, academic advising staff, extracurricular activities, residence living, student-life staff, mental-health services, and administrative staff and bureaucracy.

Deborah MacLatchy
Deborah MacLatchy

Maintaining such a strong reputation and providing a superb all-round experience for students is the responsibility of everyone at Laurier. It requires a commitment to excellence on all fronts, and therefore it is gratifying to see the university succeed not just in terms of quality enrolments but in many other areas as well.

For example, in October Laurier was named the No. 1 research-growth university in its category in Canada in the annual Top 50 Research Universities rankings by Research Infosource, an independent consulting firm. Laurier earned the top ranking with a 23 per cent increase in sponsored research funding in 2015-16.

In early November, Laurier was named the most sustainable campus in Ontario and the third most sustainable in Canada by Corporate Knights. Our sustainability efforts range from LEED-certified new builds (Lazaridis Hall is targeted for gold; the Research and Academic Centre on the Brantford campus has earned silver) to the installation of rooftop solar panels, a Canada 150 tree planting, an electric-vehicle charging station, and a fully-functioning micro-grid. We are encouraged by the external benchmarking of our efforts. These achievements are important, especially as we strive to build Laurier’s reputation as a comprehensive university that excels at both teaching and research.

There have been many other institutional and individual successes this fall that reflect the strong foundations that exist at Laurier. As a new president and vice-chancellor, I am keenly aware of the debt we owe to the broader Laurier community and especially to those who have come before us. For a university, momentum is a precious asset that doesn’t arise out of happenstance — it is built through planning, cooperation, commitment and hard work.

At my installation reception in October, and throughout Laurier’s fall convocation ceremonies, I had the opportunity to talk to many alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university. I was genuinely moved by the goodwill and generosity that so many of you extended to me in my new role.

In the year ahead, I plan to initiate a consultative process to encourage the university community and key stakeholders to discuss their vision for Laurier’s future. I am looking forward to these conversations and the exciting ideas they are sure to generate.

Laurier has a long history of collaboration and a shared sense of community. I am confident that  by carrying on this tradition we will continue the great work that has made Laurier such an outstanding university.

Deborah MacLatchy, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University