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Letter: Striving to restore pride and sense of belonging at LU

‘Much like LU itself, we must evolve how we connect current students with alumni throughout university and after graduation’
Laurentian University.

Thinking about convocation at Laurentian University earlier this month, I found myself feeling both nostalgic and contemplative, pondering what to think about the achievements of the Class of 2022, as well as those from 2020 and 2021, who finally were able to get their degrees in person after waiting for two long years.

Ultimately, the sentiment that prevailed was a sense of profound respect and esteem for the resilience and resolve showed by those graduates who persevered through a crippling pandemic and a divisive insolvency process.

As former president of LU’s Alumni Association, my attachment to the university and especially my chosen program (School of Sports Administration, a.k.a. SPAD) is steadfast, but the last year and a half has tested the strength of our allegiance.

Watching the most recent SPAD cohort walk up that stage filled me with immense pride, but also some trepidation about what happens next.

How can we evolve to ensure we attract a more diverse student population? How do we ensure programs at LU remain best-in-class? What legacy are we leaving to future grads?

As SPAD gets ready for its 50th anniversary in October, celebrated with a fundraising gala dinner in Toronto and an activity-filled weekend in Sudbury, our theme for the event befits the challenge before us: Celebrate the Past, Change for the Future.

SPAD is one of the only programs in Canada to combine a business degree with sport management, and we have much to commend. We are proud of our vast network of talent across many industries, with numerous alumni holding prominent positions in all major professional leagues (including Chicago Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson), working with global brands, like Jennifer Delvecchio, who oversees global alliances at McDonald’s, or leading top-tier businesses in Canada and abroad the likes of Tom Greco (Advanced Auto Parts) and Dale Hooper (FanDuel).

Much like LU itself, we must evolve how we connect current students with alumni throughout university and after graduation. Through a strong mentoring program, we are helping improve their odds of having a productive career in their chosen field. And by reaching out to different communities throughout the country, we hope to work towards building a more inclusive and diverse student base, while continuing to be the leaders in sport business education.

This change needs to happen in the classroom and at the community level. SPAD will be creating a legacy fund aimed at supporting local projects such as the Elgin Street Mission, as well as organizing a grassroot hockey equipment drive with the help of the Sudbury Cubs. We must do more of this.

Our goal of raising $100,000 as part of our reunion weekend festivities is to make sure SPAD thrives well into the future. It will help restore the pride and sense of belonging we all found at Laurentian during what was a special time in our lives.

We have often heard “to whom much is given much is required.” We all have a shared responsibility to give back, each in our own way, to ensure our school, our community and our youth continue to make the North shine brightly.

Diane Côté Mihalek 
Laurentian alumna