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After a successful 10-year run as dean of the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa in 2010, followed by a two-year sabbatical, Micheál Kelly was ready to return to the classroom this fall.
Then he received a call from a head-hunter. Would he be interested in taking the helm at Wilfrid Laurier University's School of Business and Economics?
Dr. Kelly said he never planned to seek another deanship but was swayed by his knowledge of the school and its students.
"I have always been impressed with the quality of the institution," he says of the Waterloo, Ont., school. "What really convinced me was that I saw a real commitment on the part of the senior administration at Laurier to build an outstanding business school."
In the end, he decided that "if I was going to do it again, this was the kind of school I would be interested in."
This week, Laurier announced his appointment effective July 1 for a five-year term.
The business school is relatively large by Canadian standards, with more than 4,500 full-time and part-time students in graduate, undergraduate and diploma programs. But the school often flies under the radar, just as Laurier itself is overshadowed by its better-known neighbour, the University of Waterloo.
Before laying out a game-plan to raise the school's profile, Dr. Kelly says he first plans to talk to faculty, staff and students and members of the local business community.
That said, he argues a business school should "educate people to be global leaders with a global mindset and be deeply embedded in its community and work with business, non-profits and other organizations."
In his view, business students should also receive a well-rounded education. "We don't take as much advantage of other parts of the university, such as the humanities, as we should," Dr. Kelly says.
As Telfer's dean, he recruited a major donor for whom the school is named, boosted its endowment and secured so-called "triple crown" accreditation by the U.S. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the London, England-based Association of MBAs and the European Quality Improvement System in Brussels.
Laurier's business school is not a named school, likely an early challenge for Dr. Kelly. The school is accredited by the U.S. association, the major agency for assessing business administration and accounting programs worldwide.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Kelly came to Canada in 1971 to study political science at the University of Ottawa, earning a master of international relations in French and later a PhD in political science from Carleton University.
A die-hard Notre Dame University football fan, he regularly attends all games of the University of Ottawa's Gee-Gees. Now he has to shift allegiance to Ottawa's grid-iron rivals, the Laurier Golden Hawks.
"This is going to be a big transition for me," he laughs. "I will have to sit [in the stands]at the middle of the field."
A four-man team from York University's Schulich School of Business last month beat competitors from top-ranked American schools, marking the third win in a row at real estate case competitions in recent weeks.
At the most recent competition, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, the Schulich team edged out Columbia University and Dartmouth College in the final round with a winning proposal for redevelopment of a five-acre parcel of land beside the baseball home of the San Francisco Giants.
In contrast to others – 29 schools competed – the Schulich team recommended a smaller-scale, low-risk redevelopment that took account of a glut of office space in the area.
"There was no pie in the sky, no Donald Trump way," says team member Wes Myles, completing his post-MBA Diploma in Advanced Management at Schulich. "It was very Canadian and that was the answer they [the judges]liked."
Team captain Phil Baron, completing his MBA this year, says participating in such competitions is a way to showcase individual skills, forge networking ties and raise the school's reputational flag.
"At the final cocktail reception in Boston, people were saying 'Schulich – what is Schulich and where is that?' " he recalls. "This was about saying, 'Hey, Schulich is a great school and a great place to study real estate.' "
Mr. Baron and team members Maxwell Vo and Luke Chisholm, 2012 MBA candidates, each served on two other winning real estate teams this spring.
In Boston, the foursome walked off with $5,000 in cash and a 36.2-kilo bronze statue of a beaver, named for a late MIT alumnus who was a student when now-Schulich associate dean James McKellar founded a graduate real estate program at the Boston university.
"It was the first year of the trophy and so the first name on it is Schulich," says Mr. Myles.
The weighty prize, too heavy for airplane carry-on, is being shipped from Boston.
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