School of Business Plans Forge Onward

BU’s campus and ACC’s main campus (Victoria Ave.) (Logan Praznik/The Quill)

A partnership between Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College to explore the creation of a hybrid business program and a joint school of business, stemming back to 2015, will continue, as consultations with the community are set to happen on January 12th and 13th.

The consultations will begin at BU, possibly moving to ACC during the second day, and will invite students, faculty and administration, as well as the local business community, to participate and give feedback on the proposal.

After the consultations, a report on the future of the joint program will be drafted, with BU’s Dean of Arts, Demetres Tryphonopoulos, hoping to release its details by the end of February. Both BU and ACC are expected to provide further insight and clarity on the material covered in the report at a later date.

Plans for the partnership were announced by BU and ACC in November of 2015 at a Brandon Chamber of Commerce event, with ACC president Mark Frison stating in a press release that the proposed joint school “would offer significant benefits to learners, employers and communities,” and that “A hybrid degree would allow better program coordination and more effective use of capacity, taking business programming in Brandon to a new level.”

BU president Gervan Fearon said at the same event, “A vibrant business program and future school are critical to creating the type of city we need to attract and retain our talented graduates within the region,” and that the institutions will work with all levels of government, the Brandon Chamber of Commerce, and industry partners in the proposal.

The proposal would build on the institutions’ existing 2+2 program in business administration, which allows students to spend two years at ACC to earn a College Diploma in Business Administration, then transfer the credits to BU and spend two years there to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

Both institutions would also explore a co-location for the proposed joint school, and the offering of new degree majors in subjects such as human resources, marketing and hospitality.

The proposal was criticized in December by BU Department of Economics chair Joe Dolecki, who claimed that hastily attempting to have the then-NDP provincial government approve the proposal before April 2016’s provincial election would “prostitute the academic integrity of [BU]” to obtain more revenue.

The following March brought a leak to media of a report written by BU Department of Business Administration chair Heather Gillander, which called the proposal “extremely risky,” questioned its financial viability, and claimed that it would “reduce pathways for students” as well as “the number of students taking a business program in Brandon.”

The then-NDP provincial government set aside $420,000 of funding for the proposal, though the funding has since been jeopardized by 2016’s provincial election. Though the current Progressive-Conservative provincial government has expressed interest in the proposal, they have not yet made any funding announcements regarding it.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 16, January 4, 2017.