What comes with a name?

The Lazaridis School shines an international spotlight on the university

Photo by Daniella Okezie
Photo by Daniella Okezie

The newly named Lazaridis School of Business and Economics is bringing increased visibility and prestige to  Wilfrid Laurier University.

“For the first time, this has given us a marketing opportunity around the name to tell people nationally and internationally this is a really good business school,” said Micheal Kelly, dean of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics. 

The school’s name, titled in honour of philanthropist and vice-chairman of Blackberry, Mike Lazaridis, was unveiled on September 8.

Lazaridis contributed a $20-million donation to the Laurier business school with an additional $15 million contributed by the Ontario government.

Lazaridis is also known for his excellence in business and involvement in community affairs.

“We really do have one of the best, if not the best, economic and business programs in the country … but it doesn’t have the name recognition that other business schools have,” said Kelly.

Kelly was the dean of the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa before coming to Laurier in 2012. The school was named after Canadian mining industrialist Ian Telfer.

In Kelly’s experience, a new name raises interest, as well as application submissions among students.   

“The tradition has been they go up 15-20 per cent the next year because there’s something about a business school that has a name on it that is attractive to students,” said Kelly.   

Lazaridis’ name will help build a national brand for business and economic programs, especially the business administration program.

“Southern Ontario has become a really competitive space these days because it’s the only part of the country that’s growing in that demographic, so everybody is recruiting [students] here,” said Kelly.

  “We need to be recruiting from the east, the west and I’d love to see us have the kind of brand attraction that a Queen’s or a Robin’s [Virginia School of Business] has because our program is just as good if not better but we haven’t had the visibility.”

Kelly is already seeing attitudes towards Laurier changing internationally with students. He recently  travelled to the United Kingdom last week to talk to people at the University of Cambridge.

Kelly said people are already preceiving the business school differently because of the Lazaridis name.

“There’s now a lot of business schools and organizations that paid attention to us and want to do stuff with us.”

Students in the business school see a positive mold forming around a school with a name.

“I think it provides a mode of identity the way that other business schools, like Ivey students, have … we’re Laurier students, especially now with that new building, [it’s] a new home for us,” said Bailey Gembom, third-year business student.

“I think next year there’s going to be more and more international students coming in to Laurier,” said Miiya Wok, third-year business and financial math student.

The Lazaridis name could also make SBE graduates more known and appealing to employers when applying for jobs.

“All of a sudden their degree, not that their degree is worth more, but it’s more well-known than it would be otherwise,” said Kelly.   

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