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Laurentian powering through on transformation, strategic plan

Nothing new to report, however, on property sales to the province which were to fund payouts to Laurentian University’s creditors following insolvency
A poster for Laurentian University's 2018-2023 strategic plan is seen on the university's campus last year.

As it continues to deal with the aftermath of its 2021-22 insolvency, Laurentian University has made significant progress in its simultaneous operational transformation and strategic planning processes over the summer months, the university’s interim president reported Tuesday.

However, she said there is nothing new to report on negotiations for the sale of Laurentian lands and buildings to the province of Ontario, which is to fund payouts to the university’s creditors.

The sale of these properties is to take place within three years of Laurentian’s late-2022 exit from insolvency, and will be for up to $53.5 million.

“Teams of consultants have been on campus as part of the government’s due diligence before the purchase,” said Sheila Embleton, in a written report to Laurentian’s senate at the Sept. 19 meeting.

“The President’s House, on John Street, will shortly be on the market for sale – the process for selecting the real estate agent is nearing completion.”

The university was legally obligated to undertake both operational transformation and strategic planning exercises following its exit from insolvency, and has hired outside consultants to assist with both processes.

Embleton is set to share more on these topics with a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce audience Sept. 26. 

During that event, she will provide an update on Laurentian’s transformation, strategic plan and real estate status, among other topics, said a press release advertising the talk. A question and answer period will follow her presentation. will provide coverage of that event.

Embleton’s Sept. 19 report to Laurentian’s senate said the university’s Operational Transformation Plan is now in its final drafting and revising stage, focusing on the plan for putting it into action. 

Laurentian’s board of governors was briefed on the general directions of the recommendations at a special meeting on Sept. 6. 

The goal is for final approval of the Operational Transformation Plan at the full board of governors meeting on Oct. 20, and then the plan will be sent to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities for approval, said Embleton.

Following consultations, Laurentian and its operational consultant, Deloitte, has “identified and developed four workstreams, which will be the focus of the upcoming transformation.”

“Since the operational transformation process began in May, more than 100 documents were reviewed to identify specific needs and establish goals for the four workstreams: Human Resources, Finance, Registration Services and Student Affairs, and Information Technology,” said Embleton.

“The so-called blueprints, which are detailed plans outlining the scope, objectives, and timelines for each project, like a roadmap for the project team, have been constructed and have been circulating for comment.”

Embleton said the discussions which led to the Operational Transformation Plan were strongly influenced by recommendations from the NOUS Operational Review and the Auditor General’s Special Report on Laurentian University.

“Even more so,” the report was influenced “by the extensive consultations with and suggestions made by the Laurentian community, many stemming from their own lived experience, and Deloitte’s own observations based on their extensive experience.”

Embleton said in her written report to Laurentian’s senate that the strategic planning process is also “well underway.”

The draft 2024-2028 strategic plan is slated to be completed by December 2023, with required approvals coming in the first part of the winter term, she said. Winter classes at Laurentian start Jan. 8.

This is somewhat different wording than she used last spring, when Embleton stated that Laurentian is mandated to complete its strategic plan and have the document approved by its board by the end of December of this year, commenting that this was a “very fast pace.”

Following this article's publication, we received the following information from the Laurentian president's office, confirming there has been an adjustment to the timelines.

"The strategic planning process timeline has been adjusted to reflect a modified consultation timeline, allowing for a wider participation from our stakeholders in the process," said the written statement. "The requirements of the planning process will still be met under this timeline, allowing for a draft plan to be submitted to the board in December."

In her report to senate this week, Embleton said there have been many discussions between the strategic plan consultants, Strategy Corp., “and many members of the university community.

“Over the summer, the initial community survey was open from July 10 to Aug. 18 and saw hundreds of community members share their perspectives,” Embleton said. 

“The Strategy Corp team has been on-campus meeting with many of our stakeholders this month and will continue to collect feedback and ideas that will inform the plan. All are welcome to visit the Strategic Plan Process website to learn more about the ways in which you can contribute your thoughts and ideas. 

“The Office of the AVP Indigenous has recently submitted ‘Indigenous Programs Strategic Business Plan,’ which will also be part of the documents that Strategy Corp will be working from.”

Laurentian is still in the process of gathering feedback for its strategic plan. Its website is advertising in-person engagement sessions for both LU students and employees for the week of Sept. 25. 

“Mark the engagement session in your calendar and make sure you stop by to share your ideas and priorities with the strategic planning team,” said Laurenian’s website.

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.


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