Leaving Laurier

After five years at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ginny Dybenko, the former dean of the school of business and economics and the current executive director of strategic initiatives, will be leaving the university to pursue a new position at the University of Waterloo (UW) Stratford campus, effective Oct. 1. While she’ll be leaving WLU, Dybenko’s legacy and contributions to the SBE faculty will not be easily forgotten.

“I loved every single minute of my last five years at Laurier,” said Dybenko. “I particularly loved working with the students. I loved working with the faculty and staff to support what I think is a very strong and relevant direction for the business school.”

Before Dybenko joined the Laurier community in 2006, she spent her time as the vice-president of marketing at the Canadian IT company Syndesis, and had previously worked at Bell Canada in the early stages of her career. In January, Dybenko stepped down early in her term as dean of SBE to explore other opportunities within WLU.

Dybenko’s new position will essentially be the head of the UW Stratford campus, which welcomed their first-ever students last week. The Stratford campus — also referred to as the Stratford Digital Media Centre — will not be the typical university campus. It will instead be focusing on research in the fields of technology, media and business.

“We have done a whole bunch of really amazing things [at WLU], but all of the sudden an opportunity came walking by that I really couldn’t ignore,” explained Dybenko. “The reason it interested me so much is because it’s such a combination of technology and innovation, both of which are real hot buttons for me.”

Tobi Day-Hamilton, director of advancement and public affairs at the UW Stratford campus, noted that Dybenko’s new position will create the outlook for the new campus.

“Basically she’s just setting the vision,” said Day-Hamilton.

Day-Hamilton also mentioned that the Digital Media Centre will be geared towards blending creativity and technology in the field of business and media, and she believes Dybenko’s experience as dean will be greatly beneficial.
In her time as a dean, Dybenko was instrumental in developing the SBE faculty to what it is today, by making substantial contributions to the executive master’s in technology program, the early stages of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) building as well as in building relationships with external businesses.

“What Ginny will be known for is her real enthusiasm for linking the business community with the school. Not only with [the business] school, but also with other units in the university,” said Deborah MacLatchy, vice-president: academic and provost at WLU. She also noted that Dybenko was a constant enforcer of social responsibility within the SBE faculty.

Since Dybenko stepped down as dean, William Banks, associate professor in accounting, has been acting dean for the business faculty. According to MacLatchy, the search for a replacement dean has begun and she hopes to have a permanent dean by January of 2012.

With her rather short time as executive director of strategic initiatives, Dybenko has worked with WLU president Max Blouw and the alumni relations offices to find donors and to assist in fundraising for the new GIE building. She’ll remain in that position until Oct. 1.

Robert Donelson, Laurier’s vice-president: development and alumni relations, who Dybenko worked in conjunction with as executive director of strategic initiatives, remarked similarly to MacLatchy about Dybenko’s enthusiastic attitude towards Laurier.

He also added that no one has yet been chosen to replace Dybenko’s position, but did mention that it will be someone from the existing fundraising staff within the alumni relations office.

Dybenko hopes that the new campus at Stratford will become a hub of Canadian technology research and innovation, where other universities and businesses can work with the centre. This also includes potentially working with Laurier in the near future.

When asked what she’ll take from her experiences at Laurier, Dybenko replied, “The respect I have the Laurier students, not only their intelligence and their eagerness to learn, but also their interest in making the world a better place for a lot of people who are far more disadvantaged than they are.”

While she is excited about the new transition in her career, Dybenko said she will miss Laurier.

“I’ll be leaving physically, but I’ll never leave emotionally,” she said.