Schulich is a global school, says dean

The rising interest in [MBA studies in] Canada isn’t just coming from international students looking to study in a developed country; many Canadian MBA schools are actively recruiting foreigners, too, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 12.

The Schulich School of Business [at York University] has sought out international students for a number of years. Schulich has satellite offices in Russia, China and Brazil, and this has resulted in a high percentage of foreign students attending the school. About 70 per cent of MBA students in the 2010-2011 school year are from outside of Canada.

“It’s not a Canadian school, it’s a global school,” says Dezsö Horváth, Schulich’s dean. His goal is to make the MBA program as global as possible. He says 60 different nationalities are enrolled in the post-graduate degree. The more international the classes, he explains, the better positioned his graduates will be.

“People don’t just compete domestically anymore,” he says. “They have to compete worldwide. Getting trained in a global context is very good for Canadian students who must function globally.”

MBA upgrade to help him change paths

John Labatt was standing at a crossroads in his life when he stumbled on a program at York, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 12. The 48-year-old father of two has an MBA from the University of Arizona, a bachelor of arts in classical philosophy and a diploma in systems analysis.

He has worked at high levels for various companies. Recently, he was on his own, creating, then selling, businesses. From 2005 to 2009, he lived in France. Here, he had an epiphany.

“It was time to change course…. I realized I wanted to give something back,” said Labatt, son of brewing family and philanthropists Sonia and Arthur Labatt. “I wanted to take what I had learned and use it in a way to help others.”

In April, he’ll graduate from the Schulich School of Business at York University with a post-MBA diploma in advanced management, with knowledge that can be applied to foundations serving a social purpose and to non-profit businesses.

“Goals sometimes change; you may decide to go in a slightly different direction or even start a new career,” says Charmaine Courtis, Schulich’s executive director of student services and international relations. “We’ve known for a long time people have been coming back to universities to upgrade, but what we’re offering is an intensive and recognized package.”

Sustainability’s the buzzword

Kate Sturgess values openness and honesty in corporate behaviour, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 12. She did, after all, spend six years in Berlin working with Transparency International, a group that advocates for those qualities in business and government.

So when she returned to Canada for an MBA degree, she ensured the program she attended, the Schulich School of Business at York University, promoted values that matched hers. “I’d spent six years trying to fight corruption all the time,” says Sturgess, 31. “I wanted to make sure the place where I was studying had a broader view of organizations and [was] not just old-school business.”

Her Schulich classmate Rodrigo Moura, also 31, helped indigenous communities in his native Brazil market items handcrafted from sustainably harvested materials. He, too, sought MBA schools that would enable him to pursue his interest in sustainability and renewable energy. Moura is now in Halifax, happily working for a company that includes a First Nation and develops wind-energy projects.

This kind of choice is increasingly common among MBA students, and it’s affecting the culture of companies that hire their graduates.

Some companies are ahead of others in acknowledging their activities affect a range of people, not just their shareholders, and there’s pressure to do so, if they hope to attract top students. Companies can still focus on making money, but “it’s about being a more respectful and responsible employer,” says Joseph Palumbo, who runs Schulich’s career centre.

Sustainability doesn’t, for the most part, open an array of new jobs for students. But it can make a person more marketable. “The more I know about sustainability, the more examples of creative solutions I have,” Sturgess says. “It puts you in a better position to have an open mind about how to solve problems, so it’s a real competitive advantage.”

Three ways to deal with the risk of rising mortgage interest rates

Here we go, again, wrote Moshe Milevsky [finance professor in York’s Schulich School of Business] in the Toronto Star Feb. 14. The economy is generating more jobs, a handful of banks raise mortgage rates and all of a sudden you’re being advised to lock in your mortgage before the bank doors slam shut. In fact, some say you’d better hurry up and buy a house now before mortgage rates go so high you’re locked out of the housing market forever.

This is not the first time that mortgage rates are on the brink of blooming only to fade a few months later. This has happened more than a handful of times in the last decade. The headlines are often the same. A month or two of increasing mortgage rates, the public is urged to act now, and then a few months later something unforeseen appears on the horizon.

Don’t get me wrong. Short-term interest rates are abnormally low today and the Bank of Canada has pledged to raise them eventually. But that is a far cry from advocating that you lock in your mortgage – which is actually driven by long-term bond market rates – or heaven forbid using this as an excuse to buy a house you can’t really afford.

Controversial documentary creates tension rather than discussion

Because the political climate at York University isn’t quite hot enough, a group of students decided to host a screening of Iranium on campus last week, wrote Feb. 12.

Organized by Hasbara@York, the film was originally to be shown at Vari Hall, but the location was moved [to the Computer Science & Engineering Building] after Toronto Police received “unspecified threats.” About 50 to 60 people organized by the Iranian Student Association at York showed up to protest the screening.

My apologies if I’ve led you to a yawning fit. Obviously, this sort of issue is not new for York University. Generally speaking, Group A will host controversial speaker/association/screening, Group B will protest said speaker/association/screening, and Group A will assert its right to free speech/peaceful assembly.

A more tactful approach for dealing with this or similar issues would be to tackle the content directly, rather than try to stifle the message overall, wrote Maclean’s.

Mia Nielsen: curator, the Drake Hotel

Writer Micah Toub spoke with Mia Nielsen [BFA Spec. Hons. ’97], a graduate of York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, in a story about her work as curator at the Drake Hotel, in The Globe and Mail Feb. 12.

Toub: Curating art for a hotel seems like a unique challenge.

Nielsen: It is a challenge, but there’s a great opportunity, too. When people come here, they don’t come to look at art the way they go to a museum to look at art. I get to show them things that they may not see otherwise and we have an incredibly wide and diverse audience. In the morning, we have moms and babies in the café, power lunches in the middle of the day, private parties at night, club kids, and on and on.

This is a very busy place on Saturday night and what happens here on a Saturday night lets me pay for an art installation…. Jeff Stober, the owner, is a very creative thinker and he has enabled us as programmers. If you can dream it, chances are you can do it.

Stories in the snow

Ice Fishing in Gimli, [is] a mammoth work by Winnipeg artist and writer Rob Kovitz that was a decade in the making, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 12. It is a montage of found images and text that the artist collected from various sources and wove into a complex, eight-volume narrative set in this chilly Manitoba town on the shore of Lake Winnipeg. Ice Fishing in Gimli is the recipient of the Art Gallery of York University‘s 2010 Artist Book of the Moment prize. It’s on exhibition at The Department, a gallery in downtown Toronto, until Feb. 26.

Waterboarding. Is it torture?

Contrary to what Dan Gardner states [in an op-ed piece by Post writer Barbara Kay], no American court or military tribunal has ever convicted any American official (military or civilian) of torture for waterboarding, wrote Terry Heinrichs, political science professor at York’s Glendon College, in a letter to the National Post Feb. 14. More than 26,000 American servicemen were subjected to it during their survival training, as were three high-level detainees who provided important information about al-Qaeda’s operations.

Nor is it true, as Gardner also says, that the United States hypocritically describes waterboarding as torture when it is “committed by foreign governments” but not when committed by them. This claim confuses apples and oranges. The waterboarding practised by the Khmer Rouge (drowning a person in a barrel of water) or the Japanese during the Second World War (the infamous “rice” or “Tokyo Wine” treatments) or that of any other country using it against their captives is analogous to that of the United States only insofar as water is involved.

On air

  • Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor in psychology in York’s Faculty of Health and the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution, spoke about a new study on bullying on Global TV Feb. 12 and on CKNW Radio, Vancouver, Feb. 11.
  • Professor Robert Latham, director of the York Centre for International & Security Studies, spoke about the impact of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, on BNN-TV Feb. 11.
  • Thabit Abdullah, history professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about Egypt, on TVO-TV’s “The Agenda” Feb. 11.
  • Laurence Packer, biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the sudden death of 20,000 bees at the Royal Ontario Museum and its possible linkage to a much wider problem that has scientists stumped, on Global TV Feb. 12.