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Newly appointed President, Dr. Lynn Wells, sees a bright future ahead for Laurentian University

Dr. Wells’ vision is one that embraces Laurentian’s tricultural identity, bilingual education, and enhanced student experience

Dr. Lynn Wells, Laurentian University’s newly appointed President and Vice-Chancellor brings with her a deep commitment to honouring the tricultural identity of Laurentian, a dedication to bilingual education, and extensive experience leading post-secondary institutions.

Dr. Wells says, “With a degree in French literature, I am a long-time advocate of francophone education and committed to advancing the University’s bilingual mission. As a descendant of settlers who had the opportunity to learn from First Nations and Metis people through my work at First Nations University of Canada, I have a genuine passion for Indigenous education and cultures that have helped me connect with Laurentian’s unique mission to meet the needs of the people of the North and the communities served by the University. I am honoured to be part of Laurentian’s future.”

Extensive experience in post-secondary leadership

Dr. Wells has held a series of senior positions at universities across Canada over the past 20 years. She says, “I put my name forward for the role of president at Laurentian University because I believe I have the right combination of experience and temperament to help the university at this period where they are moving forward in a good way.”

Dr. Wells began her leadership career at the University of Regina, serving as Acting Dean and Associate Dean Research and Graduate in the Faculty of Arts, completing her term as Associate Vice-President, Academic. She was then appointed Vice-President, Academic at First Nations University of Canada in Regina, which gave her valuable insights into Indigenous education, community engagement, and an understanding of the need for national reconciliation.

At MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, she served as the inaugural Associate Vice-President, Students and Teaching. As Provost and Vice-President Academic at Brock University in

Niagara Region, she provided strong academic leadership, spearheading the development of new programs such as engineering and enhancing student services and support. For 15 months, Dr. Wells served concurrently as interim President, guiding the institution through the difficult pandemic period.

Academic achievement

Dr. Wells received her PhD in English from Western University, as well as a Master of Arts in English and Honours Bachelor of Arts in English and French Studies from York University. As a professor, she has held tenured roles for more than 20 years at Brock University, MacEwan University, First Nations University, and the University of Regina.

Despite her busy administrative career, she has continued to pursue her passion for scholarship, actively teaching and publishing peer-reviewed work and presenting at academic conferences in Canada and England. She is a highly regarded scholar, having authored multiple articles on contemporary British fiction as well as two books, the most recent of which is a book on Ian McEwan, a British novelist and screenwriter.

Strategic vision for the future of Laurentian University

In her role, Dr. Wells will provide strategic vision and leadership to Laurentian University. One of the requirements of the Exit Agreement around the CCAA, the federal legislation that allows financially troubled institutions to restructure, is that a new Strategic Plan be launched. Dr. Wells says, “The newly approved plan contains our vision, mission, values, guiding principles, and our strategic priorities over the next 5 years. It’s a wonderful plan that puts us in the right direction for the future.”

The plan includes four strategic priorities:

Enhancing the student experience

Recognizing that students are at the heart of the university, Dr. Wells plans to prioritize their well-being, personal growth, and academic success. She says, “This priority is near and dear to my heart. I favour working in institutions that put students first. I think universities first and foremost are about students because their experience is core to our mission.” The priority includes an emphasis on attracting students form the North, including first-generation Francophone and Indigenous students.

Energizing academic and research mission

Laurentian is proud of its high-quality academic programs and high-impact research. Dr. Wells says, “As we move forward to the next stage, it’s about supporting the programs we have in place and building new programs that students really want and value. These are programs that will respond to the priorities of the North, the Sudbury area, our stakeholders, and Indigenous and Francophone communities.”

Dr. Wells is committed to putting the university at the forefront of innovation, pushing the boundaries of knowledge, and addressing societal challenges. She says, “We have traditional research strengths in mining, health, Northern cultures, education, and a number of other areas. But we’re doing the consultation now to determine what academic programs and research focus areas will be most effective for our institution going forward.” Dr. Wells aims to position Laurentian as a hub of academic and research excellence and a catalyst for positive change.

Building up the communities Laurentian serves

Recognizing the significant role that Laurentian University plays in the north, in addition to working with the Indigenous and Francophone communities, Dr. Wells is committed to working with communities throughout Northern Ontario.

Partnering with representatives from industry, the alumni, and donor networks will bring a sense of energy and community to the institution.

Valuing and supporting people

During the period of recovery and re-engagement Dr. Wells wants to ensure the people at the university are taken care of while also inviting new people to become part of the institution.

Dr. Wells stresses, “I’m a big proponent of good governance in universities. As a team, we’re all working towards how we can enhance our governance structures, our policies, and the way we work together in a way that’s very effective and transparent.”

Support from the community

In the short time that Dr. Wells has been in Sudbury, she has been impressed with the pride people have for Laurentian and the great energy there is to support the university going forward.

She says, “It’s an incredible commitment by the people who have worked at Laurentian for a long time. As for the students, I have not yet met an unhappy student. They all seem thrilled with their education, with their campus experience, and with the activities in place. It’s really the commitment of people not only at Laurentian but also in the Sudbury Region to the institution. I have met many alumni who are big supporters of the institution and want to see Laurentian do well.”

Dr. Wells has worked at other universities which, like Laurentian, offer a mix of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. She loves the combination of student-centeredness and academic and research excellence. She says, “Something that feels very promising to me in Sudbury is the great relationship between the university and the City. There is strong support from the Mayor’s office for what we’re doing at Laurentian. This is very much a community university. What appeals to me is the great connection with the community along with the focus on students.”

Dr. Wells says everyone has been extremely welcoming since she and her husband arrived in the city.

Laurentian has a bright future

Dr. Wells believes Laurentian University is on a good path moving forward. She says, “We still have work to do, we have relationships to repair, and we have programs to build. But the university is stable, it’s well-managed, and the future is very positive for Laurentian.”

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