obert Haché, the president and vice-chancellor of Laurentian University, says the facility is going through the mediation process as part of its restructuring plans.
He says there are three critical phases involved, the first that by April 15th some clarity will be known around issues such as how Laurentian’s academic offerings and federation agreement will be structured for the fall of 2021.
The second, which he hopes to see by May, is a formal Plan of Arrangement outlining the terms of emergence from insolvency protection and moving forward on financial stability.
And the third will be a concrete plan in the fall for academic programming and remaining in a financially viable position.
The process started when Laurentian commenced proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act on February 1st, stating that the University would need to restructure to ensure its future.
Haché says Justice Sean Dunphy, a bilingual judge of the Ontario Superior Court and the Court-Appointed Mediator, is currently hard at work leading Laurentian stakeholders in mediation to find operational restructuring changes that will allow Laurentian to be a long-term sustainable part of our community.
The stakeholders are many and represent a cross-section of the Laurentian community, including the Academic Senate, itself a selection of committed faculty and students which includes Francophone and Indigenous perspectives; the Laurentian University Faculty Association; the Laurentian University Staff Union); and the federated universities (University of Sudbury, Thorneloe University and Huntington University).
He says each has a voice in this process.
“Each is bringing their insight, perspective, and will ensure that they propose recommendations that will not only take into consideration the bilingual and tricultural 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.”
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.
“Provided we achieve certain critical milestones in the first phase of our restructuring, May 1st will mark the start of the second phase. By then, it is our hope that Laurentian University and its stakeholders will have reached consensus on key terms of the restructuring, allowing the University to create a financially sustainable future for itself and work towards implementing those changes.”
The third phase will also be key.
“As the Fall 2021 Term kicks off, so too will begin a third phase of the CCAA restructuring, reflected by the implementation of the new academic structure. We will continue to deliver 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.
“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,” concludes Haché.