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The Molson building has won an environmentally-friendly certification from the Canada Green Building Council.

The Globe's weekly Business School news roundup.

Concordia University's John Molson School of Business has made sustainability a point of differentiation, scoring well on rankings that measure efforts to teach students about the environmental, social and ethical implications of business decisions.

Earlier this fall, for example, Molson placed third in Canada in a sustainability survey by Corporate Knights and last year its MBA program ranked 42 nd in the Aspen Institute's "Beyond Grey Pinstripes" report on the sustainability and social responsibility focus of business schools around the world.

Now the Molson building has won an environmentally-friendly certification from the Canada Green Building Council, which administers the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. The Molson school was designed for silver status, the third-highest LEED rating, using less water than conventional buildings and incorporating local and sustainable materials.

The eco-friendly status of the building becomes a selling point for the school's own programs.

"At JMSB, we strive to ensure that sustainability and social responsibility are woven into everything we do," says Molson dean Steve Harvey, adding that the LEED silver designation "recognizes that commitment."

B-school demand

China's voracious appetite for higher education at home and abroad is evident in the latest global data on demand for business-school education.

Chinese residents are the second-largest cohort, after those from the United States, of those taking the Graduate Management Admission Test for entry into MBA programs, according to data released by the U.S. Graduate Management Admission Council.

In the Asia-Pacific region, demand for writing the council-administered GMAT has grown 70 per cent in the past four years, with Chinese residents accounting for 52 per cent of test-takers in 2012.

According to surveys of test-takers by the council, 85 per cent of prospective MBA students living in China and Hong Kong indicate they want to apply to international graduate programs. The United States is the top destination for residents from China and Hong Kong to send test results, accounting for 76 per cent of score reports sent, compared with a mere 4 per cent each for Canada and the United Kingdom.

Small business outreach

The Oldman River runs through Lethbridge, Alta., separating the University of Lethbridge from the main part of the city. Reaching out across the river – and beyond – is one of the goals of the Small Business Institute set up through the university's Faculty of Management earlier this year.

The institute, set up by management faculty colleagues Gordon Hunter and Dan Kazakoff, carries out research on small business (including ranching and farming) activities in Lethbridge and southern Alberta. The two professors, with decades of experience in consulting and management, are co-authors of Little Empires, a study of 11 multi-generational family businesses that have been successful – to the point that none laid off workers in the 2008-9 recession.

It was the book that sparked the idea for the institute, says Prof. Hunter, whose recent research includes a study of small-business failure as seen through the eyes of insolvency professionals who advise those facing bankruptcy or restructuring.

This fall, to support expanded outreach efforts by the institute, an agriculture-oriented financial institution donated $36,000 for a speaker series to connect university researchers and industry leaders with rural communities over the next six months. The donor, ATB Financial, is a provincial crown corporation.

Through the speaker series, he hopes to meet farmers, ranchers and other small business owners to discuss the work of the faculty of management.

For an upcoming research project, he plans to interview farmers on how they have adapted to the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly and to survey ranchers on how they coped with the temporary closure of Edmonton-based XL Foods this fall for a beef recall. He hopes that the interviews will provide insights on management issues faced by land-rich farmers and ranchers.

The creation of the small-business institute has made it easier to attract farmers, ranchers and other small-business owners to participate in the research, says Prof. Hunter. "When I say I represent the small-business institute, they are listening longer," he says. "I get more of a positive response."

Record growth

As part of a long-term growth strategy, the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management has admitted its largest-ever class of full-time MBA students.

The current class of 313 students in five sections compares to 130 students in two sections in 1998. In a press release, Rotman officials say the school plans to grow over time to an annual intake of 400 students.

Despite taking in more students, Rotman notes that the average GMAT score of this year's class is 673, compared with 661 for those admitted last year. As at other business schools, Rotman attracts a high contingent of international students: 48 per cent of the current class comes from 32 countries.

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