Thunder Bay - Farewell Speech

Good evening.


Bouzhoo ahnin.

It has been my great pleasure and privilege to lead this university for the past seven and a half years.

I still remember, vividly, walking into Senate chambers for the first time, nearly eight years ago, with my wife Judy and two little daughters: Cecilia and Isabel.

Full of hopes and full of dreams.

Walking into a new job.

Walking into a new adventure.

Walking into a new mission.

I remember the warmth and hospitality of all the people in the community.

I remember mentioning, in passing, during my announcement speech, curiosity over a special pastry that I had been told about called a "Persian";

A unique specialty only found in Thunder Bay I was told — a local delicacy.

Only to find myself, a few hours later, with dozens of these pastries, lovingly packed for air travel by my new benefactors and especially designed as treats for my daughters.

I remember the wide-eyed expression on my daughters' faces when they saw packages of these childhood delicacies.

And the face of panic on Judy when she mentally calculated the quantities sugar content of each pastry.

To my shock and dismay, they were all consumed.

Bedtime routines were more challenging for the next few days, as we had to manage the sugar rushes.

Well, the kindness and generosity did not end there, for the next few months an army of volunteers helped us to prepare for our final arrival and then they helped us to settle in in August 2010.

Many kind people welcomed us as if we had been active members of the community for years in both Thunder Bay and Orillia.

We were home!

And the adventure began.

What no one will tell you, and few will ever admit, is that being a University President is as much about leadership abilities and management skills as it is a vocation of the heart.

It is as much about being smart and working hard as it is about having love and being passionate, and compassionate.

It is as much about reading briefing notes, countless emails and attending many meetings and events, as it is about listening and having empathy.

It is as much about thinking as it is about feeling.

And if the thinking and the feeling work together, they are a very powerful force indeed.

An overwhelming powerful force, when combined with commitment and purpose.

An overwhelming powerful force when others see what you see and feel what you feel.

An overwhelming powerful force when you have a true cause.

That is leadership.

When you are in that office, you see both human potential for success and
the possibility for waste.

You see what could be good for people and communities if you only work hard enough on their behalf.

You see what could change lives if you are only clever enough to find the right way to reach out and the resources to fund them.

You see what could make a difference in this world when people work together.

We have changed the world.

When you get to be president, you have countless challenges and surprises.

You solve problems every day.

You are challenged every day,

Part of you carries the burden of leadership, worrying about making the right decisions.

Part of you carries the potential of leadership, dreaming about the right possibilities.

Lakehead University is more than the sum of its parts.

During the seven and a half years as your President, this University has been transformed.

During the seven and a half years as your President, I have been transformed.

The University is more than the sum of its parts.

And Because of that I have become more than the sum of my parts.

Thanks to you.

Thanks to all of you.

A lifetime of experiences, education and hard work came into contact with an extraordinary institution, and the amazing people who inhabit it,

And the remarkable communities who support it.

And we made magic together.

We have changed the world.

When I walk through the campus and I see our students, I see in each and every face, the potential for a life to be transformed.

Professional transformation;

Personal transformation;

Community transformation;

Societal transformation.

When I walk throughout the campus and talk to our outstanding faculty, or visit their labs, or see them engaged in the classroom with students, I see their dedication, their hard work, their struggle, their passion, and their love...

For their work.

For their impact on society,

For their students,

For their personal commitment to produce knowledge, and for their passion to disseminate that knowledge.

It is not easy juggling publication deadlines, research challenges administrative duties, class notes to prepare, community service to deliver.

Yet they are unwavering about their commitment to their students.

That is what we are known for:

The dedication of our faculty and their outstanding research.

When I walk around campus, and I see our staff fixing and cleaning the buildings, making and serving the food, helping and guiding the students with their needs, talking to our students, gauging their mood and stress levels, listening to their problems, and showing care and compassion.

I see their love for this University.

I see their sense of duty.

I see their pride.


When I travel across the country and around the world, and meet with our remarkable alumni, I see in their eyes their passion for Lakehead, I see gratitude for their great education, I see nostalgia for their time here, And I see their commitment to their Alma Mater.

Whether they graduated last year, or fifty years ago, they have Lakehead in their eyes.

This is what makes Lakehead special.

This is what makes Lakehead great.

This is what makes Lakehead.

Lakehead is more than the sum of its parts.

A university education transformed my life.

It transformed me personally.

It transformed me professionally.

It transformed my family.

It transformed my community.

And, it transformed countless people around me.

Just think of the transformational force of this experience embodied in the over 60 thousand Lakehead Alumni around the world;

How it ripples though individuals, families and communities like a powerful and unstoppable force of nature.

Think of the force that travels throughout our country,

Think of the force that travels across the world.

Think of that, and you are thinking of Lakehead University.

We have changed the world.

There is so much for us to be proud of...

Nearly 60% of Lakehead Graduates, are first generation graduates.

We were the first University in the country to implement an indigenous content requirement in our curriculum.

We were the first University in the country to appoint a Vice-Provost of Aboriginal Initiatives, and a chair on truth and reconciliation.

We appointed Canada's first Aboriginal woman as Dean of a Faculty of Law.

We have established an aboriginal mentorship program.

For three years in a row, we have been designated Canada's top research university in our category.


We have opened the doors to the world.

We have attracted over a thousand new international students.

We have built a new English Language program.

We have opened new opportunities for studying abroad for our students.

We established the first ever Office of Human Rights & Equity.

We have opened Alumni chapters across this country and around the world.

We opened a new Faculty of Law.

We renewed our partnership with Confederation College.

We have created a new partnership with Georgian College.

We have opened an office in Toronto.

Thanks to the support and generosity of our Federal and provincial governments, as well as the support of kind donors and alumni, we have built:

A new campus in Orillia.

A lovingly restored Port Arthur Collegiate Institute Building.

A new state of the art daycare.

A 25-million-dollar Center for Advanced Studies in Engineering and Science.

A new learning commons in the library.

A fully renovated Student Central

A new International Center.

New STATE OF THE ART immersive telepresence classrooms that connect our two campuses.

A new Alumni Commons on both campuses.

These are just a some of the exceptional things that we in this room have done together

We have changed the world.

So many of you made my journey at Lakehead one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

For that, I wish to thank you all.

First, our faculty:

Your dedication and commitment to Lakehead have been a constant source of strength and inspiration.

As I have so often said if our students are the lifeblood of Lakehead, it is our faculty who are the heart.

I would like to express my admiration of your commitment to teaching excellence and your devotion to providing our students a world class education in an environment which is nurturing and supportive of the learning experience.

The Lakehead student experience is second to none because of you.

To our Deans, Chairs, Directors and other senior administrators, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your leadership and guidance. I could always count on you for sound advice and tireless support.

To the Chairs and members of our Ogimaawin–Aboriginal Governance Council, my deepest gratitude for guiding our University's continuing efforts to support First Nation, Inuit, and Métis' higher education goals.

Thank you for teaching me.

Thank you for showing me how to dream.


To the Chancellors whom I have had the pleasure of working with during my time as president: Dr. Arthur Mauro, Dr. Derek Burney, and now Dr. Lyn McLeod...

Thank you for your mentorship, patience and guidance, as well as your tireless work on behalf of Lakehead, has helped to transform us in the past few years.


To the wonderful communities in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, and Orillia and Simcoe County...

From the moment of our arrival, you embraced my family and I and instantly made us part of your own lives with warmth, kindness and generosity. You have done so with unwavering support and countless acts of kindness. You will always be a part of us.

To our hard-working federal, provincial, county and municipal representatives of all political stripes, past and present, I want to extend my sincerest thanks, not only for helping us with the many challenges and opportunities that we have faced, but for your commitment to Lakehead's educational, social and economic goals.

I have seen up close how hard our representatives work for Lakehead and I want to express my thanks for their work on our behalf.


To the thousands of alumni and donors who give so generously and selflessly to the University to help with our many needs, thank you for your faith in us and thank you for not only making us a better university but a more caring and fair one.

You have transformed lives.

We are very fortunate to have strong and vibrant First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities who support us and guide us, who teach us and enlighten us, and who firmly root us in the culture and history of these beautiful traditional lands.

Thank you for supporting the University, thank you for reminding us of our social mission and thank you for giving us renewed purpose. You are our past and you are our future.

Finally, to my employer: David, and Lakehead University's Board of Governors. {Ad libbed text}

To everyone...

It has been one of my greatest privileges to work with you all.


For all that we have done, there is more to be done.

We can still change the world.

We have children in this city, children in Northwestern Ontario and children in Simcoe County.

Our children.

Our future.

Very smart children.

Very deserving children.

That need our help.

That need our support.

Their future is our future.

And so today, as we all celebrate what we have achieved together, let us make a commitment to our collective future, let us support the achievements of our youth.

Let us support the Achievement Program.

We can change the world.

Thank you.