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No comment: Former Laurentian president, board chairs refused or ignored interview requests

Sudbury.com reached out to former president Dominic Giroux, as well as three former board chairs over the past decade
2021 Laurentian University 2 Sized
Laurentian University.

Four Laurentian University leaders who were at the table as the post-secondary institution’s finances slid ever deeper into the red have either refused to speak to Sudbury.com about the situation or have ignored requests to speak with them.

Both Michael Atkins and Floyd Laughren told Sudbury.com last week it would be inappropriate to comment on the situation.

Laughren, a former Finance Minister and deputy premier in the Bob Rae government, joined the board in 2001 and served as chair from 2010 to 2013. Atkins, the former owner of Sudbury.com and a member of the Village Media board of directors, chaired the board of governors from 2013 to 2016, having joined around 2003 or 2004.

Jennifer Witty, who chaired the board from 2016 to 2019, did not respond to messages left by Sudbury.com.

Dominic Giroux, who was president of the university from 2009 to 2017, has not acknowledged any messages left for him by Sudbury.com requesting an interview about the university’s financial situation.

On Feb. 1, the university revealed it had filed for creditor’s protection under the Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act, which was endorsed by Superior Court Justice Geoffrey Morawetz on Feb. 11. 

That endorsement gives Laurentian the green light to borrow $25 million in Debtor in Possession funding to allow it to cover its costs through April 30. It also means there can be no proceedings against Laurentian while it plans to get its finances in order.

The court’s endorsement also gives Laurentian the power now to restructure its operations, and to stop making payments to employees’ pension programs. The university is also exempt from replying to inquiries under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act during the period up to April 30.

The financial consultants Ernst & Young have been declared the court-appointed monitor of the university’s restructuring efforts.

Justice Sean Dunphy has been appointed the mediator of the process, basically working with stakeholders to do the background work it takes to restructure the university.

-With files from Heidi Ulrichsen