Hennick Centre for Business & Law is a Canadian first

Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business marked the beginning of a new era in business and legal education last Friday with the launch of the Jay & Barbara Hennick Centre for Business &  Law.

The launch, which was held in conjunction with the 12th annual LLB/MBA Students’ Association Law & Business Conference at the Hilton Toronto Hotel, attracted a high-powered crowd of leaders from business, law and government including federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (LLB ’73) who gave the conference keynote address, and former Ontario premier Mike Harris who introduced Flaherty.  

Left: Jim Flaherty speaking at the launch of the Jay & Barbara Hennick Centre for Business and Law

“I couldn’t help but wish that there had been this kind of program when I was in law school,” said Flaherty, who referred to the Hennick Centre in his 45-minute address "Leadership in Challenging Times." 

The Jay & Barbara Hennick Centre for Business & Law, which has been made possible by a generous gift of $3 million from Jay and Barbara Hennick, will promote and develop joint business and law scholarship, education and outreach in Canada. 

Central to the Hennick Centre’s contributions to joint business and law education and scholarship will be the existing LLB/MBA (recently renamed the JD/MBA) program that was jointly established by Osgoode and Schulich in the mid-1970s and the new Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance at Osgoode and Schulich established in 2006. The centre will play an important role in raising awareness of the need for such education and scholarship in today’s complex, globalized world. Toward this end, it will undertake a wide range of comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives involving students, faculty, practising lawyers, business and legal community leaders and public policy-makers.

Above: From left, Schulich Professor Andrew Crane, George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics; Edward Waitzer, Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance at Osgoode and Schulich; Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan; former Ontario premier Mike Harris; Barbara Hennick; Schulich School of Business Dean Dezsö J. Horváth; Jay Hennick (BA ’78); York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri; and Marshall Cohen (LLB ’60, LLM ’63, LLD [Hon.] ’86), chair of the York University Board of Governors

Jay Hennick, a York graduate in sociology (BA ’78) with a law degree from the University of Ottawa, is founder and CEO of FirstService Corp., one of North America’s largest globally-diversified real estate service companies. In 2001, he was named Canada’s CEO of the year by Canadian Business magazine. Barbara Hennick is a chartered accountant and a graduate of the University of Toronto.

“I have been blessed with opportunity and success, both in law and business,” Jay Hennick told the audience that included the couple’s three children – Bradley, Allison and Jory – and Jay Hennick’s father, Sam. “I practised law for 13 years before starting out to find my path in business.” 

“The experience I had, moving successfully from one discipline to the other, gave me a unique understanding of the power and importance of integrating the education of law and business together," he said. "It’s my belief that by bringing together the scholars, students and practitioners from both fields, we will create a new and higher level of insight and knowledge that will significantly benefit the practice of each discipline.”

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, Schulich School of Business Dean Dezsö J. Horváth and Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan all paid tribute to the Hennicks and stressed the tremendous impact their gift will have in helping to prepare students to compete in today’s knowledge-based society. 

“Today’s lawyers and business leaders must be able to better navigate the intersection between business and law with understanding and confidence,” said Shoukri. “The Hennick Centre will graduate lawyers with a solid background in the law, coupled with strong business judgement; lawyers who will help make their clients – and our economy – stronger and more competitive.”

Monahan described Jay Hennick as “a man of passion, drive, hard work, but also vision” and the couple’s gift as “beyond extraordinary”. Horváth said: "The Hennick Centre is really the culmination of a long and productive relationship between Schulich and Osgoode – one that started back in the 1970s when people such as Don Thompson at Schulich and others at Osgoode laid the groundwork for what would become the LLB/MBA joint degree in business and law. It was the first such program in Canada and, in fact, one of the very first in the world."

And JD/MBA student and conference co-chair Sabrina Kumar emphatically assured the Hennicks that “the return on your investment is guaranteed.”

Edward Waitzer, Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Corporate Governance at Osgoode and Schulich and a senior partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP, is the inaugural director of the Hennick Centre. Osgoode Professor Poonam Puri, co-research director of Canada’s Expert Panel on Securities Regulation, and Schulich Professor Andrew Crane, George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics, are the associate directors.

The Hennick Centre will benefit from the knowledge and experience of its high-profile advisory board of senior lawyers and business leaders from Canada and abroad. Board members include, among others, James Farley, partner, McCarthy Tétrault LLP; Edward Sonshine (LLB ’70), president & CEO, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust; Marianne Harris (LLB/MBA ’83), managing director & president, Merrill Lynch Canada Inc.; David Robottom, group vice-president, corporate law, Enbridge Inc.; Terry Kawaja (LLB/MBA ’89), managing director, GCA Savvian Advisors; Rob Wildeboer (LLB/MBA ’85), executive chairman & secretary, Martinrea International Inc.; Barbara Stymiest, group head, strategy, treasury & corporate services, Royal Bank; Dale Lastman (LLB ’82), chair, Goodmans LLP; and Mark Young (LLB ’78), managing partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. 

Under the umbrella of the Hennick Centre, Osgoode and Schulich collaborating on the development of a certificate program in business and law that is expected to get under way in early 2010. The Hennick Centre will also become the new home of the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR), a non-profit, independent national organization representing the interests of Canadian investors in securities regulation. Under the centre’s auspices, an investor protection seminar for third-year law students and business journalists has also been established.

In the fall of this year, the Hennick Centre will host a multi-stakeholder expert consultation for the UN Special Representative on Business & Human Rights. The creation of the pioneering Hennick Centre will strengthen Osgoode’s relationship with New York University (NYU) and its Pollack Center for Law & Business, one of the few precedents for the Hennick Centre. As well, a number of other initiatives involving business and legal scholarship, outreach and education are under consideration.

The Jay and Barbara Hennick gift will help to support the centre throughout its critical first five years of operation, as well as create a permanent endowment for the centre. At the same time, it will make possible the creation of new endowed awards for top entering and graduating students from the joint Osgoode and Schulich law and business program. A new Hennick Medal for Career Achievement will also be awarded annually to recognize distinguished international business leaders.