With student recruiting season well underway, Laurentian University president Robert Haché said now's the time to get down to business in making the hard choices to restructure the financially-troubled Sudbury post-secondary school.
The Sudbury university, now in its 60th year as an institution, entered Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on Feb.1.
Haché is looking at April 15 as a key date in this process as to when the community and all stakeholders can expect "clarity" as what Laurentian's academic offerings will look like in September.
He called the next two months "critical" in deciding Laurentian's future as faculty, union, students and representatives from the three federated universities digitally huddle with court-appointed mediator Justice Sean Dunphy to find the kind of "operational restructuring changes" needed to deliver the university out of creditor protection.
"Each has a voice in this process," Haché said in a March 8 statement. "Each is bringing their insight, perspective, and will ensure that they propose recommendations that will not only take into consideration the bilingual and tri-cultural mandate of the university, but also the needs of the market for the wider benefit of our communities.
"This requires considerable effort and commitment of all parties to achieve what needs to be done to restructure the university. It is incredibly important that we all understand the hard work ahead of us. There are no easy fixes to these issues and it is critical that we do not waste any time in their pursuit."
Haché is hoping to reach consensus on the key terms of restructuring toward implementing the kind of changes to start developing a Plan of Arrangement by May - the second phase in the creditor protection process - which will outline the terms and financial plans on how the university will emerge from CCAA.
"By that time, we are also hopeful of having agreed upon other key terms of the restructuring, including with those with our labour partners. That will allow us to further develop a meaningful financial forecast and engage in discussions with a view to obtaining additional financing for a post-restructuring Laurentian," said Haché.
The start of the fall academic year - the third phase of the CCAA process - will showcase the new academic structure and put the university on a path of financially sustainability, he said.
"We will continue to deliver a quality education and dynamic student experience to our students, potentially the first opportunity for them to return to campus face-to-face since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Haché said Francophone and Indigenous programming still remains core to Laurentian's identity as an academic institution.
"Much work remains ahead of us. We are hopeful that the restructuring, although a difficult chapter in Laurentian’s story, will result in a revitalized university that will not only survive, but thrive. It is as a community that we will bring forward a new Laurentian."