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Lakeland University Japan News

Five Questions with LUJ Dean Charles Laurier

Five Questions with LUJ Dean Charles  Laurier


Five Questions with LUJ Dean Charles Laurier

If you graduated from LUJ in the last fifteen years or so, you may remember Mr. Charles Laurier as your LUJ librarian or art history professor. Now, as of April 2023, he is our new Dean.

LUJ’s previous dean, Dr. Alan Brender, will still be providing valuable experience under the title ‘Dean Emeritus.’

We asked Dean Laurier a few questions about his new role, among other topics…

I imagine you have a few priority goals in mind at the moment. Could you share a few of them?

My number one priority is to make sure every LUJ student gets the best possible education and college experience. This means we need to constantly find ways to improve, and sometimes change, what we are doing, to create a setting for optimal growth for every student.

Our core mission is to provide each student with the opportunities and tools to be critical thinkers and effective communicators while allowing them to grow into the person they want to be.

When they leave LUJ, and go out into the world we want them to be fully prepared and confident to do whatever they have chosen to do to make our world a better place, while living fulfilled lives themselves.

You’ve only been the dean for about two months as of this interview, but are you already feeling the differences between your previous role as librarian/professor? How so?

Certainly, my new job is incredibly different. Instead of the relatively straightforward job of developing and running the library and the Learning Center, the Dean is responsible for all aspects of the academic success of the university, from hiring and evaluating professors, to planning and developing new programs and courses, to finding ways to increase the success of all the students of the university.

There are not enough hours in the day, so the Dean has to speed things up a bit, and prioritize. Fortunately, Dr. [Alan] Brender [as Dean Emeritus] is here helping to make sure I learn everything I need to know to do this job.

How would you like to see LUJ evolve in the next 5-10 years?

Over the next five years, my hope is that LUJ will become an even more vibrant and exciting place, with new academic programs and more stimulating clubs and activities. We will also develop our cooperation with other area and international universities, join sports leagues and have other collaborations and common events.

One area we will certainly start again is our Open College, a continuing education program for alumni and people who would like to take non-credit courses in the evening or on Saturdays.

We want to be an excellent resource for our neighbors in Sumida-ku and the surrounding area. And we would definitely like to start seeing more of our alumni, and have them be a regular part of our school year and major events each year.

When you were a college student, who would you say influenced you most…your parents? Public figures? Professors?

I was certainly most influenced by professors. The essence of good education is, in my view, the student-teacher collaboration, where teachers impart their learning and knowledge to students, while students offer teachers new insights on old questions.

Ever since the dialectic method was developed by Socrates, this has been the process by which knowledge, both personal, and collective, moves forward. Interestingly, a form of the dialectical method was also independently developed in ancient Indian and Chinese philosophy as well, so this is certainly an international approach which we embrace here at LUJ.

Is there a part of your life that you think might surprise students and faculty who think they know you?

Well, many faculty and students know that I am an avid student of Japanese modern architecture, but they may not know that one of my goals is to see every single building in Tokyo. This is a big challenge, and quite probably impossible for anyone who has to work five days a week, but one way I am approaching this goal is to walk every single street in Tokyo.

I have already walked every street in Sumida-ku, Taito-ku, Chuo-ku, Arakawa-ku, and am close to finishing Koto-ku, with several other kus in process as well. These walks, which some people find slightly eccentric and obsessive, often cover 20 to 30 kilometers in a day (my personal best is 40 kilometers in one day), allow me to discover new styles and examples of Japanese architecture, and I have developed a collection of thousands of photos, which I intend to use in a history of modern Japanese architecture that I am working on.

I also meet many wonderful people and cats on my walks, and try to taste local foods. Everyone is welcome to join me on these walks…wear comfortable walking shoes.