By Sean Fitz-Gerald
While most educators spend their careers trying to inspire students, Stan Heath needed just one lunch hour.
As dean of Ryerson’s business faculty, he captivated the minds of some of the school’s brightest business students over a meal at a downtown resturant last April.
“In that short lunch that we had, he affected our lives with an impromptu speech,” said Ryerson Business Students’ Association v.p. administration Eric Filmer. “He displayed his passion for the business school.”
Filmer said that Mr. Heath talked at length about his vision for the future of the school of business.
“It was infectious,” BSA president Judy Okten said. “He kind of set the stage for where he thought we could take the school and what we could do for the students.”
Mr. Heath died suddenly last Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. He was 61.
On his way from his cottage to a meeting at Ryerson, Mr. Heath became ill and stopped his car on the side of Avenue Road.
He was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital after a passerby noticed him slumped over the wheel and called 911.
“There was no sense he was sick,” associate dean of business management Lee Maguire said. “The nuclear explosion in the middle of Toronto would have been more probable in my thoughts than him passing away from a heart attack.”
Before his three years at Ryerson, Mr. Heath spent nearly 30 years with the Nabisco International family of companies. At one point in 1991, e was responsible for more than 19,000 employees i 19 different countries.
Mr. Heath’s experience impressed Ryerson’s v.p. academic Dennis Mock when he hired him to head the school’s business faculty.
“I really admired this man,” said Mock. “I can’t really say enough positive [things] about him.”
Mock was hair of the meeting Mr. Heath was driving to when he died.
“He did a lot for Ryerson,” Mock said.
As most people his age were content to enter the twilight of their working careers, Mr. Heath worked tirelessly to realize his vision of Ryerson’s business management department.
In less than a year, he merged the administration information management program with the business information systems option to create a new program.
“Academics don’t move that fast,” Macguire said. “There’s always a problem. But not with him.”
Macguire said Mr. Heath was able to create the new program, information technology management, in just seven or eight months.
“H was really the spearhead to that and he got all these people to agree,” Macguire said. “He had such a way about it because he wanted to be a part of it.”
Mr. Heath wanted to stay close to the students. Unlike many deans, he stil found time to teach classes. Mr. Heath was getting ready to teach the strategic management course this fall.
“He was really looking forward to it,” Macguire said. “He felt it was very important for him to experience what the faculty experience in the classroom.”
“We’re going to miss him more than we realize,” Mock said.