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As it revamps post-CCAA, Laurentian hiring ‘lead transformation officer’

University hiring to staff its new transformation implementation office to realign operations as it moves on from insolvency
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Laurentian University has recently put out three job ads as it looks to hire people that can help the university transform its operations.

Late last year, the university approved an Operational Transformation Plan, something that was mandated under its plan of arrangement following its 2022 exit from insolvency restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

As Laurentian vice-president, business and administration Sylvie Lafontaine explained in the June 28 board of governors meeting, the transformation plan is about “looking at the business excellence and continuous improvement of all of our processes, as well as our policy … and our IT infrastructure.”

The university is in the process of setting up a Transformation Plan Implementation Office, and plans to hire five people for that office, although only three job ads have been put out so far.

One of those ads is for the lead transformation officer, and pays up to $165,000 a year. The other two job ads are for project manager (up to $102,727 a year) and transformation program administrator (up to $69,222 a year).

The university actually earmarked $8 million in its 2024-2025 budget to transform its operations, which includes the hiring of a lead transformation officer.

Deloitte has been retained at a cost of no more than $972,920 to serve as a third-party consultant to the plan implementation office, as required by the Laurentian plan of arrangement.

Also involved in the university’s transformation is the Transformation Consulting Group, chaired by Sylvie Lafontaine and Laurentian University Staff Union (LUSU) president Tom Fenske, and with 16 members representing various areas of the university.

Lafontaine said the transformation plan is about “challenging the status quo” by providing clarity to administration staff while focusing on students, faculty and researchers.

Laurentian president Lynn Wells remarked that the university’s post-insolvency transformation efforts are making some waves across the province.

“What we're doing here at Laurentian around transformation is garnering some attention from across the province,” she said.

“In fact, many universities are now being urged very strongly by the province to do a very similar process. There is the provincial top-up funding being made available to other institutions to undertake very similar transformative projects. So this is an opportunity really for Laurentian to stand as a leader in the sector.”

On a related note, Laurentian’s board of governors also approved a new administrative job June 28 to assist with its multiple post-insolvency obligations.

That includes the implementation of not just the university’s transformation plan, but also the recommendations of the Ontario auditor general and the plan of arrangement stemming from LU’s insolvency, as well as its new strategic plan.

This new role would be entitled associate vice-president of strategic initiatives, and will be posted for applications soon.

“Currently, we have no one to co-ordinate that work,” said Wells. “It is being done off the sides of many desks.”

A report included in the board package said there are sufficient operational funds in the president’s office budget to cover the new position to the end of the current fiscal year, and the position will then be added to the base budget for 2025-2026.

Laurentian University Faculty Union (LUFA) president Fabrice Colin reminded the board that in her 2022 report, the Ontario auditor general identified the inflation of administrative expenses as one of the causes of the financial crisis at Laurentian.

He advocated for a caution in increasing administrative expenses, given that enrolment at Laurentian is not back to pre-CCAA levels.

However, Colin said he was comforted by Wells’ statement that the position is being covered by the existing budget for this year and observed that a detailed rationale was provided for the hiring.

Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.



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