School of business and economics hires new dean

On April 30, Wilfrid Laurier University announced that Micheál Kelly was chosen as the new dean of the school of business and economics (SBE). Kelly looks forward to working with the SBE’s strong academic foundation to proactively develop its external networks as Laurier plans for the future.

According to Deb MacLatchy, vice-president: academic and provost at Laurier, the skills he has demonstrated with his contributions to the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, as well as his work for various innovation advisory boards and in the Government of Canada, make him an ideal leader for SBE initiatives and fundraising.

She added that the university’s search committee was “very impressed with [Kelly’s] combination experience in academia, business and the federal government, as well as his personality and his ability to build relationships.”

During Kelly’s time as dean of the Telfer School of Management, from 2000 to 2010, the school was given a 25 million dollar gift — the largest naming endowment ever received by a Canadian business school — from Ian Telfer, an MBA graduate from the University of Ottawa.

“It gave us a tremendous amount of ability to do things that we were not able to do before,” Kelly told The Cord.

As Laurier is now fundraising to name the SBE and the new Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) building, it would seem appropriate that the new dean should have experience with this kind of accreditation.

“I think Laurier is a little bit like Telfer when I started,” said Kelly. “It’s a great school [with] good students and a really strong foundation, but it doesn’t get the kind of recognition it deserves and I think part of my job is to make sure that it does get that kind of recognition.”

With WLU looking to the future to expand and potentially become more prominent both nationally and globally, funding is a primary issue and requires progressive action to resolve. As Kelly recalled from his time as dean at Telfer, “we raised a fair amount of money during my ten years there because we knew that if we wanted to be the kind of school that we wanted to be, we needed to be aggressive in getting a naming endowment and raising the funds.”

In a new, smaller environment Kelly will no doubt need to continue this proactive fundraising style to secure Laurier’s own endowments.

“What really attracted me to Laurier is the quality of students, the quality of the experience they offer, the kind of the culture and the atmosphere that I see on campus and what I see as a really strong commitment from the senior administration to build the business school out and make it one of the top business schools in the country,” he explained.

The new dean hopes to take the opportunity to build on WLU’s small community foundation with his extensive contact networks developed from time working across Europe, the United States, Asia and Silicon Valley technology firms.

Efforts to innovate the SBE could shift it away from its relatively small-scale nature, but Kelly emphasized that what he is trying to do is more about “building on what is there as supposed to setting off in a direction that is completely new.”

He assures that Laurier’s administration does not want to move the school away from its community feel and that students would be no less involved.

Kelly’s predecessor, Banks, was interim dean after Ginny Dybenko stepped down in January 2011 to pursue other opportunities at the university.

“It’s tough to be an interim dean because everybody knows that you’re only going to be there for a short period of time but he did a phenomenal job,” Kelly said.

Now with a longer time frame to get his job done, the new dean has the time he needs to act as a good leader for the SBE both internally and externally. MacLatchy is confident that Laurier will benefit from Kelly’s skills and references.

“We think that he is the right dean for 2012 and moving forward,” she said.

-With files from Justin Smirlies

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