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After an 18-month search, the Sobey School of Business at St. Mary's University in Halifax has turned to a professor of organization studies as its new dean.

Patricia Bradshaw, a professor at York University's Schulich School of Business and cross-appointed to the university's graduate program in women's studies, will take up her new duties June 1.

In a statement announcing her appointment this week, St. Mary's vice-president academic and research David Gauthier praised the new dean's "wealth of experience," citing leadership roles in course development, administration, planning and priorities and international business.

A former MBA program director at Schulich who helped develop an executive MBA program with the Kellogg School of Business, Dr. Bradshaw said in an interview she will be building on the strength of what is the largest business school in Atlantic Canada. Sobey has 3,000 undergraduates and 429 graduate students, with 20 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, from outside Canada.

As dean, Dr. Bradshaw says she will collaborate with faculty colleagues to identify "nodes of excellence" and work with the arts and science faculties at St. Mary's and other partners on potential new programs.

"All schools are trying to find those distinctive niches where you can differentiate yourself," she says.

Ethical leadership

What with the 2008 financial meltdown, jailed financiers and Occupy movement protests against economic inequities in society, the public is understandably jaundiced about the corporate sector (though politicians and journalists have not escaped opprobrium either).

"I have enormous sympathy with that public," says Calgary businessman Mac Van Wielingen who, with family and associates, has put up $9.5-million over 10 years for a new Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business at the University of Calgary.

"A number of surveys indicate public trust in the business sector is at historic lows," says Mr. Van Wielingen, a founder of energy investment firm ARC Financial. "Business leaders have to see it, business educators have to see it and not run from it." Both groups, he adds, "must look at it very deeply and understand the implications and ask 'what we can do to step up and come forward with constructive initiatives to go in a different direction?'"

At Calgary, that 'different direction' means rethinking curriculum at the Haskayne School of Business so ethics runs through every facet of teaching and learning rather than as an add-on.

Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon says the new centre, scheduled to open in September, is part of several campus initiatives under way to promote student leadership and engagement.

"I tell students that leadership is not in a title, it is the attributes you bring to your personal and professional life," says Prof. Cannon.

But isn't this already the job of universities? "I absolutely agree, but interestingly we don't talk about it enough," she says. "It is one thing to say we want to produce leaders it is another thing to say 'how are we going to do that and put tangible programs in place?'"

The president hopes the curriculum changes, now under discussion by the business faculty, will make ethical leadership a flagship for Haskayne. "It could be transformative in terms of how you really get the concept of ethics of leadership and integrity into the day to day thinking of business students, right from day one," she says.

Mr. Van Wielingen says the stakes are "incredibly high" for the corporate sector and business schools to educate a new generation of ethical leaders.

"It's not just to avoid wrong-doing," he says of the challenge for business. "That is part of it, but the other piece that is really inspiring is how it is the business sector can compete and show leadership within society."

For business schools, he adds, teaching ethical leadership "gets to the heart of the legitimacy of business education."

Quebec research centre

Funding for a new research centre in accountancy, announced this week at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business, comes amid concerns over a looming shortage of PhD-trained professionals.

Starting this year, the centre will receive $250,000 over five years from the Ordre des comptables généraux accrédités, the self-regulating, professional association of certified general accountants in the province, for research, student awards and conferences. The centre is also expected to attract visiting professors and accountancy professionals for research projects and course work.

Significantly, between two and four PhD candidates could receive up to $20,000 a year in funds to pursue their research and teaching career at the Molson school.

"This is a strong feather in our cap to have the CGA helping us support PhD work in the area of accounting," said Molson interim dean Alan Hochstein. With the school on a mission to raise its profile in graduate education, he adds, "I am sure we will get more PhD applicants and candidates."

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