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Queen’s School of Business – 90 Y ears of Excellence

It’s unlikely that O.D. (Oscar) Skelton, celebrated as the father of business studies at Queen’s University, could have foreseen or even imagined what was to come. In 1919, he and his colleague, Clifford Clarke, founded the Commerce degree program -- the genesis of Queen’s School of Business -- amidst considerable skepticism and opposition both within and outside the University. The inaugural class drew about 20 interested students and graduated four in 1922; the curriculum was weighted heavily in accounting and banking courses; and the entire faculty consisted of three professors. Nearing a century later, Queen's School of Business is one of the world's premier business schools, consistently capturing top international rankings for its programs and learning environment and attracting top students from across Canada and around the world. A related development was the founding of the Industrial Relations diploma program in 1937 by William A. (Bill) Mackintosh, MA’16, a professor with an entrepreneurial spirit who would go on to become This 90th anniversary milestone offers an opportunity to reflect on the School’s rich history of surmounting considerable odds to become a force in business education in Canada. While many at Queen’s were disdainful of allowing matters of business to taint the rarefied intellectual world of higher education, Skelton and Clark argued that business training was essential “and this professional point of view must be spread among business men as widely and as rapidly as possible if we are to be saved from the dangers of a crudely acquisitive society.” They saw this profession as a high calling indeed, but clearly did not foresee that there would be business women as well as men. In the early 1900s, the North American business world was undergoing dramatic changes, including the emergence of industry as a dominant societal force, the expansion of specialized jobs as a means of spurring productivity, and the birth of modern-day corporations with their massive work forces. Queen’s 12th principal in 1951. At the same time as Industrial Relations became a specialty, Queen’s Board of Trustees voted to create a separate School of Commerce and Administration under Mackintosh as Director. Until then, the business programs had been part of the Department of Economics and Political Science within the Faculty of Arts. The merger of the new IR unit with all commerce-related courses under the separate entity of the new School greatly elevated the profile of business education at the University. The time had come to take business education seriously. Queen’s had begun testing the water by introducing a banking program in 1914. Certified Accountant extension courses were added in 1921 (a pioneering move), but it was the on-campus Bachelor of Commerce program launched in 1919 that was Queen’s ultimate answer to the need for professionally trained managers with a formal business education. This combination of Canada’s first undergraduate program in business studies and a selection of business correspondence offerings were the bedrock upon which Queen’s began to build its current enviable reputation in the field.

Business Education as Serious Business

Queen’s School of Business – 90 Years of Excellence


H. Suddenly enrolment in business exploded.was designed with links to Dunning that accommodated Business professors’ offices and QSB classrooms and study areas. for Queen’s had begun to explore establishing an MBA program and entering the realm of executive education. Another milestone was reached in May of 1963. A new generation of business leaders would be required to think ‘big picture’ and have a strong grasp of management and business policy.Vets Bring Post-War Challenges The Second World War had a profound impact on the Commerce program. The change in location was accompanied by a change in This boom meant that Dunning Hall could no longer hold the whole School. attributing them not only to increased competition from new business schools. but to an over-emphasis by the Queen’s program on banking and accounting. mindset and a renewed passion from within the ranks of faculty.) This change in status coincided with a challenging period in the life of the School. In the academic year 1960-61. Fortunately. however. The potential for world-class status and an ability to compete for students internationally was foreshadowed during this period. Mackintosh-Corry Hall. the School entered a quiet period. The debate had begun in earnest over what kind of curriculum would best prepare the next generation of business leaders. The advent of the post-war consumer society and the unmatched buying power of a population ready to be housed and made mobile also meant that marketing courses would now become a staple of the curriculum. the two-year Master of Business (MBA) program was offered for the first time – a course of study heavily influenced by new thinking about graduate business education coming out of the northern U. Queen’s would not be left untouched by the revolution in business education that was underway world-wide. Accounting professor R. (To put this in historical perspective. the move made Commerce Queen’s fifth faculty. there was an enrolment surge as returning soldiers took advantage of veterans’ educational funding and flocked to programs that they knew would give them an advantage in the highly competitive post-war job market.G. when Queen’s Board of Trustees endorsed faculty status for the business school and named Lawrence G. When the war ended. BCom’66. “The (Baby) Boomer generation hit the universities. “To suggest that the faculty of 15 people was spread a bit thin is an understatement. and the School desperately needed expanded facilities and more professors. with the number of business students dropping as low as 14 during the war years.” says Merv Daub.” Dunning Hall: Modern Home for a Growing School By 1960.S. Macpherson as its first Dean. (Reg) Smails had taken over as Director. the School had moved from its severely cramped Union Street East quarters in what was called simply the Commerce Building (former site of the more picturesquely named Home for Friendless Women and Children) and into the modern luxury of Dunning Hall at the corner of University Avenue and Union Street. there were still not enough professors. however. Medicine. co-author with fellow professor emeritus Bruce Buchan of Getting Down to Business: A History of Business Education at Queen’s 1889-1999. After a few years of this intense activity. after Arts. He lamented disappointing enrolment figures. more quantitative research and analysis. and the School seemed to be facing an identity crisis as it addressed these challenges. A new path for business education was being forged. He set about broadening the curriculum. Despite lower enrolments. That lull proved deceptive. Queen’s School of Business – 90 Years of Excellence 2 . facing the Douglas Library. opened in the 1970s. Two major American studies on business education by the Ford and Carnegie Foundations urged a more policy-oriented focus. Applied Science and Law and just ahead of the revived Faculty of Education. a demographic shift brought a solution. and a greater emphasis on graduate courses. It was no longer enough to train a Commerce grad in the principles of economics and money management.

a very different circumstance from ten years earlier. McKeen. During this period. the first woman hired as a tenure-track professor. and so another QSB milestone was achieved in the late 1970s. Queen’s was joining in the belief in Canada that to educate men and women equally in the professions was the key to having them equally represented in management and the professions. hiring nine women during his deanship (1989-95).S. was appointed Dean. the number of exchange agreements with business schools in other countries flourished. in 1982.” Shifting the Gender Balance At this point. Professor Don Nightingale was put in charge of “kick starting” the three-week. providing an important source of discretionary funds both to the School and the University. it took until the 1990s for the School to begin to see a significant number of women on faculty. business professors were given equity training to prepare them for the presence of more women in classrooms. MBA’63. MBA’76. finance and the workings of the production line. and built ties to local businesses through the Small Business Consulting program. What had long been an almost exclusively male enclave was by the late 1980s beginning to see a significant shift in gender demographics. “In the ‘80s. the School began “a transition of extraordinary proportions.” Canada needed some PhDs of its own. “Nightingale took over and never looked back. QSB had far more student exchange agreements than the rest of the University put together. He also threw his considerable weight as Dean behind the Commerce Society-initiated QBET (Queen’s Business Environment Today [Conference] and the ICBC (Intercollegiate Business Competition). Convinced the program had become too theoretical and lost touch with the interests of industry and business. both of which continue to operate successfully to this day. in the form of books. credits Dean David Anderson with being instrumental in bringing about a more representative faculty complement. all with PhDs from the U. he engaged corporate advisors. Going Global The School was also becoming increasingly international. one influenced by Hand’s experiences as a graduate student and teacher at the University of Chicago. A new philosophy of business education began to take hold. was now appearing with increasing regularity. (Rich) Hand as the School’s second Dean in 1966.” says Daub. Largely through the efforts of Professor David Rutenberg (from the mid-‘80s to mid-‘90s). the School was also changing in a more fundamental way.” wrote Daub and Buchan. again emphasized Executive Education. The emphasis was now on the theory behind management and on aggressively recruiting the faculty who could undertake research about how this could be applied to traditional courses in accounting.” wrote Daub and Buchan. At QSB these came to a head in the late 1970s when John Gordon. the School succeeded in acquiring approval and funding for a PhD program. at one point. The School was also coming into its own as a significant source of scholarly work. Not only were European and other international business schools interested in sending their students to Queen’s. slightly above the average at business schools around the world. an expert in gender issues in management. but also. Daub launched Inquiry magazine (the precursor of QSB Magazine) to build awareness amongst alumni and the public of the intellectual work underway at the School. articles in learned journals and presentations at academic conferences. “Research output. in time. at least three quarters of third-year Queen’s School of Business – 90 Years of Excellence 3 . with the Donald Gordon Centre near the West Campus as its home base. the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the School’s executive education programs. The trend has continued. Currently about one-third of the faculty are women. During this period.Charting a New Course With the appointment of Richard J. residential Executive Program. grow in size and reputation to be the foremost program of its kind in North America.” says Merv. “There were 15 or 20 new faculty hired. who had just returned to his alma mater to teach after completing his PhD at the University of Chicago. After aggressively lobbying the provincial government. Tensions within professional schools between proponents of a theoretical versus an applied approach to curriculum are the norm. Now. “It would.” says QSB professor Carol McKeen. “It was quite a dynamic time. Although the number of women students had grown slowly but steadily since the 1950s.

for the third consecutive time. We not only succeeded. welcoming the inaugural class in 1996.Commerce students go on exchange. The brainchild of Ken Wong.S. In recent years. A strong global focus is also reflected in the School’s aforementioned exchange program. And generations of brilliant and distinguished faculty. a testament to the high calibre of scholarship at the School and the successful recruiting of outstanding faculty from around the world. With her background in communications. has never been stronger. a business that practised what it preached. under Dean David Dean Saunders. QSB has continued to pioneer new programs. In envisioning a place for business studies in higher education and in establishing the Commerce degree program 90 years ago. former CEO of Warner-Lambert (now part of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer). with approximately 70 top-ranked partners. It was during her term that Mel Goodes. delivered in partnership with Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management. Skelton and Clark laid the foundation.” says Laurels Won The current decade has seen the School maintain its status as a world leader in innovative programming while reaching new levels of research and teaching excellence. including its Accelerated MBA for Business Graduates. LLD’94.) ranked Queen’s full-time MBA as number one in the world outside the U. donated $10 million towards the building of a new home for the School. “It was a textbook execution of a marketing strategy. she was determined to see the School recognized on the world stage. the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA.the first female business dean in Canada.” recalls Ken.” Another historic moment in the life of the School was the appointment of Margot Northey as Dean in 1995 -. And our journey is far from over. A succession of forward-thinking. Dean Anderson had the strength of conviction to innovate. QSB continues to garner an increasing share of research grants. MBA’76.S. and a whole range of 'privatized’ and often specialized MBA programs have since sprung up across the country. it incorporates Kingston’s historic Victoria School on Union Street between Alfred and Frontenac streets. students and alumni continue to further reinforce the School’s reputation for excellence. Its official opening in September 2002 marked the first time since the early years of Dunning Hall that all the School’s facilities could be located under one roof. Commerce ’77 Fellow in Marketing. But what brought me the most pride was not what we did but that we did it at all. opportunities are part of the full-time and Executive MBA programs and are compulsory for students in the new Master of Global Management degree program. “It was a revolutionary concept. BCom’75. “So many visionary and committed people have played a role over the past century in building what has become an unsurpassed learning and research environment. “I look forward to building a future for Queen’s School of Business that is as extraordinary as its past. Its reputation. The School achieved an unprecedented level of national attention when it launched its 12-month MBA for Science and Technology. International study Saunders’ leadership since 2003. she reached out personally to major donors. BCom’57. Other Canadian business schools soon followed our lead. Called Goodes Hall in his honour. The quality of the School’s students is also evident through an exceptionally strong track record of top showings at national and international competitions. the new specialized MBAst program was the first non-government-funded degree program in Canada. BusinessWeek magazine (U. Canada’s first MBA designed specifically for people with an undergraduate business degree. but we also reshaped the face of MBA programming in Canada. far-sighted and dedicated leaders provided the framework for the innovative programs and sophisticated learning environment that emerged. faculty awards and the publication of research papers in top-tier journals. In its most recent rankings in 2008. The School has been consistently ranked among the best in the world. and the Master of Global Management degree program designed for alumni of undergraduate business programs with aspirations in international business.” Queen’s School of Business – 90 Years of Excellence 4 . Over criticism from virtually every other business school in Canada. To garner the financial and alumni support needed to achieve the School’s goals.

Ontario Canada K73N6 www. Queen’s School of Business Goodes Hall . relied heavily on Getting Down to Business: A History of Business Education at Queen’s (1889-1999) by Mervin Daub and P. in writing this brief history.queensu.Author Anne Kershaw. Bruce Buchan.