Battle of the business schools good for Toronto

The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management cannot claim the undisputed title of Toronto’s best business school, reported The Globe and Mail Dec. 13. In the battle for local bragging rights, the competitive Roger Martin, 48, dean of Rotman, must contend with the equally driven Dezsö Horváth, 61-year-old dean of York University’s Schulich School of Business. For the past seven years – since Martin was appointed – the Roger versus Dezsö battle has been a fascinating academic battle for profile and stature. The big winner has been the city, which now has two management schools of international renown. “It’s healthy to have two strong business schools in Toronto,” said Horváth, Schulich dean for the past 16 years. “We can maybe jointly put Canada on the map.”

One indicator of the intense rivalry – and parallel success – is the global ranking of Top 100 MBA schools by London’s Financial Times. Rotman, in 21st place, is in a virtual dead heat with Schulich, which claims 22nd spot. While both rank below US institutions such as Harvard and Wharton, they are the top Canadian schools.

It was not always so. Twenty years ago, the business school of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., was widely viewed as the national leader. The two Toronto schools were laggards, though the city had emerged as Canada’s financial and business-media capital.

When he became dean in 1998, Martin, a former management consultant, inherited a big donor in financier Joseph Rotman and an impressive new building on U of T’s downtown campus. He doubled the size of the MBA class, and hired top-flight faculty.

Horváth’s school, with an assist from financier Seymour Schulich, moved last year into its own $100-million building. It has built programs on the environment and corporate responsibility and forged an alliance with a major US school on an MBA for working executives.

Both men have built on their schools’ strengths – and their own personalities. Horváth, a multilingual Hungarian-born, Swedish-educated professor, capitalized on the 1990s trend toward globalization in building international programs. He brought a scrappy, entrepreneurial style, boosting the school’s profile by competing in school rankings. “He’s a tough little bugger,” said an admiring Roger Wolff, Rotman dean from 1985 to 1992. Martin, from a Mennonite business family in Western Ontario, came with Harvard Business School credentials and a rich trove of corporate contacts, collected as a star consultant with Boston’s Monitor Co. While Horváth played the rankings game, Martin built a networking and publicity machine, capitalizing on ties to the US business media. Both men are skilled in getting their own way in a university world where business schools, with their high-tuition executive programs, often are viewed as money pots by cash-strapped central administrations.

The Martin-Horváth act will run at least until 2008, when Horváth’s term ends. That would complete 20 years in the job, but Horváth is not conceding that he will walk away from the job.

York leads anti-bullying strategy

Bullying is finally getting the public attention it deserves, reported The Toronto Sun Dec. 12. Ontario Education Minister Gerard Kennedy is poised to announce within two weeks details of the government’s new Safe Schools Initiative, which is expected to include a province-wide anti-bullying hotline and other programs. And York University is leading the development of a national strategy to reduce bullying under a federally funded program announced last week.

Canada risks rule by rich

The top-earning one per cent of Canadians have almost doubled their share of the national income – from 7.6 per cent in 1980 to 13.6 per cent in 2000, wrote Linda McQuaig in a Toronto Star opinion piece Dec. 12. She quoted Osgoode Hall Law School Prof. Neil Brooks, who says the top-earning Canadians haven’t enjoyed such a large share of Canada’s national income since the 1920s and 1930s, a time when Canada was often regarded as a plutocracy (that is, a society ruled by the wealthy). “Canada is once again at risk of becoming a plutocracy,” said Brooks.

Talented speaker gave others voice

Nobody – nobody – could describe the feeling of being labelled deficient and defective and thus being left out the way Patrick Worth could, wrote Catherine Dunphy of the Toronto Star Dec. 13. A founder of Canada’s self-advocacy movement, he died of a massive heart attack on Remembrance Day at 49. “He was able to touch my students [teacher candidates] more in one hour than I could in an entire course,” said Isabel Killoran, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Education, in an e-mail. She hailed him as “one of the greatest champions of inclusion.”

Slain teacher was a York grad

Bramalea Secondary School is planning to honour slain teacher Aysegul Candir, 47, with a memorial after she was shot in the head Friday morning in the school parking lot, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 13. Candir was a teacher in Turkey from 1980 to 1986, before coming to Canada. She earned a history degree at York University in 1997, graduating on Atkinson’s dean’s honour roll.

Fat activists get serious

York grad Allyson Mitchell described the media coverage following a recent event that marked the demise of Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off, a Toronto fat-activism troupe, reported the National Post, Dec. 11. CBC Radio covered the farewell – it was a clothing sale of large sizes titled Do I Look Fat In These Pants? to raise money for two local charities – with an upbeat account of the PPPO’s effort to instill the notion that fat can be fabulous. The report was broadcast on “Metro Morning,” and at its conclusion the host himself weighed in, Mitchell says: “Andy Barrie comes on and says, ‘All joking aside, obesity is a problem in North America and our next show is about corpulence.’ ” That, to Mitchell, encapsulates the difference between the approach of PPPO members and the mainstream. “We’re not stopping doing it because we feel like fat phobia has been conquered, by any means,” Mitchell said. “We still want to do the work that we do, the politics and the activism and the agitation, but we don’t want to do it through dance any more.” And that’s because Andy Barrie is right, said the Post. Fat issues are serious. Mitchell (BA ’95) did a master’s degree (1998) at York University on fat politics.

Creative outlet for aspiring playwrights

It’s Monday night and the top floor of the Victory Cafe is beginning to fill for the latest instalment of the Cold Reading Series, a relaxed and unpretentious evening of new plays and screenplays read by local actors, reported the National Post Dec. 11. Not all the people present are actors-cum-playwrights, though. The first scene on the agenda is an excerpt from More Equal by Allison McWood, a York University theatre grad. “I like the casual, non-threatening environment here,” said McWood, a regular fixture who drives in from Newmarket every week. “You’re not put up in front of the firing squad with audience comments flying at you.”

Breast-implant offer inflates radio ratings

Hot 89.9 FM, the upstart radio station that once offered listeners a free divorce, is stirring it up again by giving away a breast augmentation for Christmas, reported the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 11. One marketing expert says the shock tactics could eventually backfire or, even worse, cause the station’s young target audience to yawn. “Younger consumers are so used to these kinds of tactics,” said Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “One time or two it’s kind of cute or risque, and people are going to talk about it. But otherwise it’s just another form of commercial exploitation and they won’t go near it.”

Payday-loan interest too high

PEI Senator Catherine Callbeck has spoken in support of change to the Criminal Code with regard to lending in Canada, reported Summerside’s Journal Pioneer Dec. 11. In a Senate speech, she raised concerns about the real cost to consumers of payday loans. Callbeck cited a 2000 study by Iain Ramsay, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, that shows, for a seven-day loan, the cost of borrowing ranged from 670-1,300 per cent; for 14 days, from 335-650 per cent.

Hoopster confident Lions will reach nationals

Dan Eves has become Mr. Clutch for the York Lions basketball team, reported The Toronto Sun Dec.11. The 6-foot-7 junior forward has played a big role in keeping York – a national semi-finalist last season – competitive despite the Lions (8-2, 9-7 overall) losing three key starters to graduation. “We got off to a rough start, but there’s no doubt he’ll be one of the keys to our success,” York coach Tom Oliveri said. “Dan’s a rarity in our league – he’s multi-faceted and can play multiple positions.” Eves, 21, said, “Our goal is still to reach the nationals and I’m very confident we can do it.”

Network would link regional schools, hospitals

York Region’s e-government committee wants to establish a task force to investigate a partnership between all non-profit agencies and, potentially, public-private systems, to create a high-speed, broadband communications system driven by fibre-optic cable, reported the Richmond Hill Liberal Dec. 12. The local system, called OneYorkRegion is critical to future communications needs, committee chairperson Jim Jones said. In an interview last week, he said York University, Seneca College and the region’s three hospitals have expressed interest in the project.

On air


  • Ricardo Grinspun, economics professor in the Faculty of Arts, was one of four panellists in a town-hall debate on continental integration that formed the final part of CBC Newsworld’s “Canada and the New American Empire” series Dec. 9. Grinspun opposed calls arising from business lobbies for deeper integration with the United States. He said that although free trade and other neoconservative policies may have contributed to economic growth and increased trade and investment ties with the United States, these policies have also contributed to an eroding social fabric and a threatened environment, and distance Canada from a positive role in the world. He also warned about the dangers of greater military and security integration with the United States, in particular missile defence.
  • CBC Radio’s “The Current” interviewed Mark Webber, co-director of York’s Canadian Centre for German & European Studies, Dec. 10 about Auschwitz II, an international movement to preserve the essence of survivor stories from the Second World War. Webber is involved in Learning from the Past, Teaching for the Future, a program to teach future educators how to learn from the past.