From zero to hero: York’s Schulich School of Business

Twenty years ago, York University was an afterthought for business school applicants. Today, its Schulich School of Business competes with heavyweights and its joint EMBA with the Kellogg School of Management is widely praised. In the latest Financial Times ranking of executive education programs, Kellogg-Schulich was the best in Canada, and 23rd globally.

How did an obscure school in Toronto’s north end become one of the best worldwide? The answer: Dean Dezsö Horváth.

Appointed in 1988, the Hungarian-born, Swedish-educated Horváth put Schulich on the map with his grand vision for global business education. Back then, American schools weren’t thinking beyond their borders and the European schools had only a pan-European focus.

The global positioning for the school was built out in three waves, Horváth explains. First, Schulich sought out exchange programs with foreign schools. Then it actively recruited foreign students to Toronto. Now it’s building sister campuses abroad, the first of which is being constructed in Hyderabad, India.

Horváth also revamped the curriculum, adding skills such as communication, and veering away from case-study-only education. "The challenge in a complex corporate environment is not finding a solution," which, he says, case studies promote. "The real problem is, finding the problem."

Because of his success, Dean Horváth has been reappointed five consecutive times. Yet he refuses to take too much credit for Schulich’s strength. "The good thing when you have a very diverse school like mine is that there are a lot of good ideas around," he says. "My challenge has been to keep a focus so that we don’t run in a thousand different directions."

The EMBA: 5 ways to get a leg up on the corporate ladder

Working for a company that values the pursuit of knowledge is a good start, according to Mary Ann Yule [EMBA ’11], vice-president and general manager of CDW Canada, a technology solutions provider, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 26, in a story about executive MBAs.

"We’re big supporters of learning and development and making sure our co-workers have all the tools at hand," she explains. Yule discovered this sentiment extends across the entire company when CDW provided her with full sponsorship for her recently completed Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program. "We value education for our co-workers," Yule says, "because they will be better, smarter and faster in what they do for a living."

The only string attached to Yule’s sponsorship was a commitment to continue working at CDW Canada for at least two years after completing her EMBA. For companies that do provide sponsorship, such conditions are becoming far more common, as are minimum grade point averages.

Ontario urged to heed Japanese nuclear crisis

The Ontario government will need to learn from the nuclear crisis in Japan when building new power plants east of Toronto or deal with increased costs, a federal government-appointed review panel report released Thursday said, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 26.

The province is planning to build two new nuclear reactors at Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington site in Clarington.

Any changes to regulatory requirements from the federal government would almost certainly force designers to make expensive changes, said Mark Winfield, a York University [Faculty of Environmental Studies] professor and energy expert. "They’ll have to go back to the drawing board to some degree and redesign the system and then there will be the additional cost of then incorporating those design changes into the actual reactor," he said.

The charismatic dilemma

When a high-profile charismatic leader is removed from the equation, there’s typically a scramble to fill the leadership vacuum, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 26, in a story about Apple Inc. CEO Steven Jobs, that also mentioned the late leader of the federal NDP, Jack Layton [MA ’72, PhD ’83]. Pitfalls lurk everywhere – within the ranks of the organization, public perception and especially for the person trying to step into those enormous shoes, experts say.

Part of what makes the transition so difficult is that charismatic leaders are typically all about ideals and the big picture – often openly contemptuous of the type of daily grind that most of us take for granted, such as working for a paycheque.

"You didn’t hear Jobs talking about stock price or shareholder value. He delivered it, but not because he was aiming at it," said Eleanor Westney, professor of organization studies at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

The biggest danger the organization faces is a potentially divisive battle over who inherits the charismatic leaders’ mantle. "Apple has a lot of creativity. The question is, who’s going to make the decisions about what not to do," Westney said. "It takes someone with legitimate authority to say no to a true believer. How do you say no to true believers and get them to go along with it? That’s the danger of charisma. The appeal is to values, not numbers."

Time will tell, experts say, how the next set of leaders will fare as they pick up the reins and try to emerge from the shadows of their predecessors. "They can feel a bit resentful because everyone is still saying, ‘What would Steve want to do?’ Sometimes they want to be charismatic themselves and supplant the original leader, but that often doesn’t work very well," Westney said.

  • Eleanor Westney, professor of organizational behaviour and industrial relations in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the resignation of Apple’s Steve Jobs, on Global Television Aug. 25.

York prof comments on impact of Layton’s death on NDP in Ontario election

Ontario’s New Democrats have been dealt a blow with the loss of federal leader Jack Layton, but the outpouring of emotion over his death may help the party win more votes in the upcoming provincial election, wrote The Canadian Press Aug. 26.

Robert Drummond, a politics expert with York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], said that while Layton’s absence could hurt the party, he may not have been able take an active role in the fall campaign anyway because of his declining health and his duties as leader of the opposition.

"His visibility would have helped …(but) there’s probably a rededication by a lot of active members of the party that are feeling that they somehow owe it to his memory to put a bit more effort in the provincial campaign that they were planning to do," said Drummond.

Perhaps an even bigger challenge for the NDP will be trying to distance itself from former Premier Bob Rae’s NDP government in the early 1990s which eventually became unpopular.

"There’s been a lot of revision going on, but the more general reputation is, ‘Yes, it wasn’t a good time for Ontario and why would we elect them again?’" Drummond said.

"It will be a matter of Horwath having to distance herself a little bit from the Rae government."

  • Robert Drummond, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the effect of Jack Layton’s death on the upcoming provincial campaign, on Corus radio news in Oshawa, Owen Sound and London, Ont., Aug. 25.
  • Dennis Pilon, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the public’s reaction to Jack Layton’s death, on Global Television, Aug. 25.

York linked to two awards in Layton’s honour

In addition to flying its flag at half-mast until after federal NDP leader Jack Layton’s official state funeral Saturday, York University is linked to two new awards honouring its famous alumnus, wrote Aug. 25.

Layton, who died of cancer at the age of 61 on Monday, Aug. 22, graduated from York with a master’s in 1972 and a PhD in 1983.

The Faculty of Environmental Studies is looking to establish an annual prize in Layton’s memory, which would be given to an outstanding environmental studies master’s student.

Layton’s son Mike Layton [MES ’06], councillor for Trinity-Spadina, is [also a] York environmental studies graduate.

Meanwhile, an award in Layton’s honour will be given by an organization called Learning for a Sustainable Future… a strategic partner with the University.

The organization has created the Jack Layton Award for Youth Action in Sustainability, which will be presented to a student or group of students who have responded to community challenges with creative energy, responsible citizenship and innovative action.

It will be awarded at LSF’s gala on Nov. 15.

The organization’s chairperson, David Bell, was a friend and colleague of Layton’s for almost 40 years.

Now a retired political science professor who once served as York’s dean of graduate studies and dean of environmental studies, Bell was Layton’s thesis supervisor while he completed his dissertation on the Foreign Investment Review Agency.

The death of Layton, who became leader of the official Opposition following the May 2 federal election, is both a personal and national loss, Bell said.

He called his friend the most promising leader on the national stage.

He believes Layton would have gone on in time to be prime minister.

"No one 18 months ago would have bet $2 on him being leader of the Opposition. We (Canadians) were really starting to get Jack," said Bell during a phone interview from Prince Edward Island. "Jack was a great listener and he was genuinely interested in other people, but, more importantly, his personal mission was to improve the lot of fellow citizens whether nationally or locally. That was just the stuff he was made of."

In a friendship that spanned four decades, Bell remembered Layton as an inspirational leader during his student days. He also recalled parties, jam sessions, quiet drinks in the bar and squash games.

Layton, a man of optimism and boundless energy, was always passionate about improving the lives of others and had a keen sense of public service, said Bell, a professor emeritus at York.

A great defender of the environment, Layton recognized the importance of balancing environmental concerns with social and economic interests, Bell said.

"I don’t see that leadership coming from anyone else on the national stage," he said.

Carless residents on rise, YRT told

York Region Transit is eyeing changes to weekend service on Route 20, wrote Aug. 25.

It currently runs from York University up Jane Street and twists through an industrial park north of Hwy. 7. The proposal is to modify the route so that it runs straight up and down Jane Street without veering off during weekend runs.

"Most of the ridership that uses this portion (south of Hwy. 7) is transferring at Hwy. 7 so they’ll still be able to do that with this configuration," Schleihauf said. "On the weekends, especially in the summer, people are just going to Wonderland. It’s a huge generator for us and this just gets them there quicker."

Regional council will have to approve the 2012 service plan before any of the proposed changes happen. The plan is expected to come before elected officials in October.

Bob Wasson in York University Sports Hall of Fame

Former Laker great Bob Wasson is among the 2011 induction class for the York University Sports Hall of Fame, wrote The Peterborough Examiner Aug. 26.

Created in 1980, the Sport Hall of Fame honours individuals who have significantly contributed to York’s interuniversity sport program as athletes, coaches and administrators; and who have exemplified the spirit and ideals of York University sports in their professional and community life.

Wasson (BA ’77) was one of the top two-way talents in the country when he played for the York men’s hockey team from 1974 to 1977.

His best season was in 1975-1976, when he was named an OUAA all-star and a CIAU all-Canadian. He received OUAA all-star honours again the following season. In both years he finished as one of the top scorers in the country and in 1976-1977 was second in league scoring. York finished first in regular-season league play twice and won three consecutive silver medals in the OUAA championship game in Wasson’s three years with the program. He graduated as one of the top scorers in program history and remains among the team’s top 20 in goals and total points

Wasson was also inducted into the Peterborough and District Sports Hall of Fame, Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

York grad scientist to host ‘Daily Planet’ TV show

If someone had told Edmonton native Dan Riskin [MSC ’00] that a book he read about bats while attending Victoria Composite High School would eventually lead to a new hosting gig with Discovery Channel’s smash-hit science show “Daily Planet”, he would have said they were, well, batty, wrote the Edmonton Journal Aug. 26.

And what if they said he would someday sit next to actress Cameron Diaz on “The Tonight Show”, and put leeches on her bare arms at the behest of host Jay Leno as part of a science experiment? Or banter with late-show host Craig Ferguson about the bizarre mating rituals of bedbugs?

Even more astounding is that the book’s author and bat expert Brock Fenton later became Riskin’s master’s adviser when he attended Toronto’s York University. In addition to a master’s in biology, Riskin holds a PhD in zoology from Cornell University in New York.

Edmonton is where it all began, when he chose physics over drama, and, in the end, wound up becoming both an actor and a scientist.

Canadian YouTube gathering VidCan is ‘VidCon with maple syrup’

For Emily Powell, a fourth-year student at York University, broadening her YouTube network and meeting new YouTubers was her goal at VidCan, wrote Aug 24, in a story about a conference held in Toronto.

“Being a film production student, I vlog occasionally and check out YouTube gatherings like VidCan and anything I can in Toronto to see the vlogging culture,” Powell said.

Roughly 50 vloggers gathered in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square Aug. 20 for the Canadian meetup where YouTubers could interact face-to-face.

On air

  • Suzanne MacDonald, anthropology professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the eating habits of racoons, in a repeat broadcast of CBC-TV’s “Nature of Things” Aug. 25.