Lajeunesse showcases universitée engagée

Lajeunesse speaks at sold-out Board of Trade event

barbara black

President Claude Lajeunesse gave the business community a taste of the whirlwind that is Concordia in a breakfast speech to the Board of Trade of Greater Montreal on Feb. 2.

In his first major public address since his installation last October, he told a sold-out audience that the university is creating a blue-ribbon committee to find ways to convince graduates to stay and make their careers here in Quebec.

The committee will be chaired by Arvind Joshi, a member of Concordia’s Board of Governors who is CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital and a professor at McGill University.

Lajeunesse reminded his audience that the city’s universities and research institutes contribute aproximately six billion dollars and 65,000 jobs to its economy. Roughly one in five Montreal university students attends Concordia.

“I am passionate about Concordia,” he said. “What I find most attractive about it is the fact that it is engaged with its community. It’s an agent of change.”

He was able to provide many examples, beginning with the concept of Quartier Concordia, which will stretch from the Museum of Fine Arts to the Canadian Centre for Architecture, embracing the cultural richness of the downtown core and enhancing it with the university’s own imprint.

“Since its inception, Concordia has been the place of choice for new Quebecers,” Lajeunesse said. “Even today, I find the commencement ceremonies particularly moving.

“There are always parents and relatives whose origins can be traced all over the world, who are there to honour the first member of their family to obtain a university degree. They are very proud, and so are we.”

Lajeunesse went on to list many recent innovations, including the new-media facility Hexagram, community café discussion groups, management training for aboriginal administrators, and, perhaps of particular interest to his audience, a new institute in business governance.

He said a report called Concordia: Central to Montreal’s Future will be published this year to document the university’s contribution as a builder and partner. It will take particular note of planned contributions to the Cité du savoir, a technological park in Laval.

The university will hold “a symposium on the evolution of the role of the media in Canada, to be followed by an academic conference on the same subject next year.”

Lajeunesse said he was glad to hear Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier’s Jan. 26 announcement of an infusion of $720 million over the next four years for university infrastructure across the province.

However, he added, “I have consistently found that our various governments need to be reminded of the importance of investing in higher education to prepare for the future.”

President Lajeunesse was warmly introduced by the master of ceremonies for the business breakfast, Patrick Kenniff, who was rector of Concordia from 1984 to 1994.

Visit to view the presentation of Dr. Lajeunesse’s speech, “Concordia: Engaged in Innovation and Agent of Social Change.”