Dominic Giroux never aspired to be the president of Laurentian University, or any university, for that matter. But nearly five years into his tenure as president, many of his colleagues could not imagine him doing anything else.
"You know how people want to be around things that are really buzzing? Dominic brings that buzz to the institution," said Carol McAuley, Laurentian's vice-president of administration.
Giroux said his appointment as university president, in April 2009, happened organically. The board's decision to hire him for the top spot was a departure from the direction other Canadian universities had taken.
Giroux does not have a PhD, and in 2009 he was 34-he is 38 today--which made him the youngest university president in Canada.
Before his appointment to Laurentian he was assistant deputy minister with the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Training. Colleges and Universities.
His career in the education sector spans back to when he was 19, and was elected as a trustee with Ottawa's French Catholic School Board. Two years later he became the board chair.
When he started at Laurentian. Giroux found out he had more pressing concerns to address than his age and level of education.
"When I accepted the appointment I didn't know the university had a deficit," Giroux told Northern Ontario Business.
In fact, Laurentian's deficit, nearing $5 million. was the highest for an Ontario university proportional to revenue, in 2009.
The university recruited 52 professors, from 2006 to 2009, while losing 1,000 students in that same period.
Giroux said addressing the deficit was the biggest challenge he has faced as Laurentian's president.
Under his leadership Laurentian managed to pay off that deficit, and is on track to pay back an accumulated $11-million deficit.
The university also managed to reverse the trend of declining student enrolment. The volume of applications from prospective new students to Laurentian has increased at twice the average pace in the sector.
The average entry grade for new students at Laurentian increased from 79 per cent before Giroux's tenure to 81 per cent.
Giroux said by 2017 the goal is to increase the student body to 8,300 full-time equivalent students--there are currently 7,200 full-time students at Laurentian--and to increase the average entry grade to 83 per cent.
Another challenge Giroux faced was to come up with a focused strategic plan for the university. "Managing to articulate a clear...