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Silvie Albert’s five-year appointment as dean of the faculty of business and economics at the University of Winnipeg takes effect Aug. 15.

The Globe's weekly Business School news roundup

The University of Winnipeg's faculty of business and economics is only four years old and its new dean sees plenty of opportunities for growth through local and global initiatives.

Silvie Albert, whose five-year appointment takes effect Aug. 15, is enthusiastic about what she saw during her two-day interview session at Winnipeg earlier this year.

"The program is new," she says. "They are looking to differentiate themselves and are interested in all kinds of things from online learning to having programs that are of need for the business community."

Prof. Albert is currently associate dean of the faculty of management at Sudbury's Laurentian University and also associate professor of strategy in the MBA program. She has taught since 2004 at the undergraduate and graduate level on strategy, organizational behaviour and management. She is also an author and lead jurist for the Intelligent Community Forum, a New York-based think tank on local economic and social development.

A former private sector consultant in the field of economic development, she says a faculty like Winnipeg that combines business and economics lends itself to initiatives that cross disciplines.

"There may be a number of opportunities in looking at how we better serve some of our communities across Canada as well as some global opportunities in economic development," she says.

She also hopes to expand offerings for students to study and work as part of their education at Winnipeg, through co-op education, internships or other interactions with industry. "All those things are extremely important as they better prepare students to look not just at theoretical aspects but to demonstrate they can apply them," she says.

Under president Lloyd Axworthy, the downtown university has made a strong push to recruit first nation, Metis and Inuit students, the fastest-growing segment of the urban population.

Prof. Albert sees a role for her faculty to expand its work on aboriginal issues. "I am looking forward to a dialogue with first nation communities to see what they feel will work," she says. "Not just in terms of the number of students coming to the university but how we can collaborate more on economic development."

Prof. Albert, fluently bilingual and the married mother of two boys, is leaving one university for another with similar demographics – a significant francophone and aboriginal population. "That part for me was the easy transition," she says of her decision to head west. "What sealed the deal was meeting the team at the University of Winnipeg."

Accounting co-op

Add the University of Guelph's College of Management and Economics to a growing list of business schools offering a co-op education in accounting.

Guelph's first regular co-op class will begin in fall, 2013, but a limited number of 15 or so top students will be offered placements for work terms next summer.

The new program – an honours bachelor of commerce accounting in co-op education – removes a competitive headache for the college.

"At the Ontario university [student recruitment] fair, the first question students ask is 'do you have co-op?'" says Fred Pries, interim chair of the college's department of business. "It's a very popular thing among students."

The college created an accounting major in the bachelor of commerce program three years ago, with an eye to introducing work placements at some point. Under the revamped program, students will have their first semester-long placement after their second year of studies, with up to four work terms before graduation.

In response to industry demand, the program includes back-to-back work terms that last eight months, giving the employer more time to assign a project and assess a co-op student's potential as a prospective employee.

Prof. Pries says the work experience gives students a chance to determine whether accounting is a good fit. "The things you learn at university you can see how they apply in the real world," he says. Employers benefit too. "They get a bright, enthusiastic person coming in for a little bit of time and often they will hire that person after graduation," he says.

By adding the co-op element, students take an extra year to graduate from the four-year program.

Professor honoured

The Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology presents an award for distinguished research contributions once every three to five years. This year, the honour went to Gary Johns, a senior research chair in management at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business.

Ivey appointment

A former deputy minister in the federal environment ministry has been named director of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy Management at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, effective this fall. Paul Boothe replaces Dianne Cunningham, who led the centre for eight years.

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