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The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

Ninety years after issuing degrees to its first class of six students, the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario held an official opening this week for a new 274,000-square-foot building that brings together 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff previously scattered across campus.

Talk of food – perhaps not the first topic associated with a business school – is a theme that links the building design and Ivey's case-method learning. At the urging of the architect, Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini, a high-end coffee bar and a 260-seat, chef-run dining pavilion are located off the atrium foyer that features an imposing gas fireplace (one of five in the building) of Algonquin limestone.

"It's the whole notion of breaking of bread," says architect and firm partner Siamak Hariri. "We said you must have a great dining pavilion." When class ends and the discussions are not quite done, he says the natural response is for students to say, 'Let's grab a bite and continue this discussion.' How many great institutions have that?" he asks.

The dining hall has floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides and juts out from the building for a sweeping view of the tree-filled campus in London, Ont., and a yet-to-be completed reflecting pool named for outgoing dean Carol Stephenson.

The use of high-quality dining to foster relationships between students and with their professors was not lost on John Irwin, Ivey's chief financial officer, who was a key official in the five-year project.

He says Mr. Hariri "convinced me that breaking bread together is a very important part of the learning experience." In addition to the ground-floor eating and sitting areas, there are 52 breakout rooms and three student lounges for classmates to work on projects together.

"Right from the start we wanted it to feel like home," says Mr. Irwin. "When you come to school, you know you will have to spend a lot of time there."

The three-storey, $110-million facility is seeking gold-level LEED designation as an environmentally-conscious building, with initiatives that include reduced indoor water usage, drought resistant vegetation and a waste management plan to divert at least 75 per cent of construction waste from landfill.

Earlier this month, Ivey received a $1-million donation in honour of Ms. Stephenson, who directed the funds to the school's Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management. The gift from Ivey alumnus Mitchell Baran will be used to recruit academic visitors and to fund student scholarships, faculty awards and research.

New programs open in China

In separate locations in China – Canada's second most important trading partner – two Canadian business schools are opening new graduate programs this week.

In partnership with Zhejiang University, a top institution based in Hangzhou, McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management inaugurates its first-ever degree program in China, with an official ceremony Friday. The master in global manufacturing and supply chain management is a double-degree program for students (most of the initial class of 30 are from China, for now) who have at least six years of experience in supply chain or retail operations for Canadian or Chinese companies.

Meanwhile, starting tomorrow the University of Alberta's School of Business will deliver a program on foreign soil for the first time, according to the university. The master of financial management is a 13-month long, English language program offered to Chinese students who are full-time employees of financial and banking institutions in Shenzhen.

The program will be offered through Tsinghua University Research Centre, the local representative of Xian Jiaotong University, which has a 30-year relationship with U of A.

Strengthening academic ties with China is an ambition shared by both schools.

"China was a natural fit for us," says Saibal Ray, director of the global manufacturing and supply chain management program at Desautels, noting its own graduate program in manufacturing management has long attracted a high number of students from China.

For the China-based program, offered in English over 28 months and delivered mostly by Desautels faculty including Prof. Ray, students will earn a specialty management degree from McGill and an MBA from Zhejiang. At some point before completing their program, the students in China will have the option to take some classes at McGill.

"North American management education has a lot to offer," says Prof. Ray. "But not everyone will be able to come here because they have family ties and would face the cost of leaving a job."

In a separate development this week, McGill announced the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation has donated $6.6-million over the next five years for three initiatives to promote research collaboration and student exchanges between the Montreal university and Shantou University in Guangdong province. One of the initiatives, the Li Ka Shing Program in International Business, takes effect next year. Shantou business students will be able to attend Desautels' international summer program while those from Desautels can travel to China for a full semester or an intensive summer program. As well, according to McGill, faculty members from both universities can travel to each other's institution to deliver lectures and pursue shared research.

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