The price of independence

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By Lori Fazari


From the upper echelons of their humble home on Ryerson’s campus, administrators housed in the Business Building say they feel ignored by the university’s administration.

They’ve been griping about getting a new building for decades, but must now sit back and watch the upstart school of graphic communications management score both the government and corporate funding to build one of its own.

The sign you’ve seen when you walk into the Victoria Street edifice says they want to be “the most respected applied undergraduate business school in Canada,” but the paint’s chipping off the walls.

They team more students than any oher faculty on campus, but watch as those same students’ tuition dollars aren’t returned to the faculty’s annual budgets.

Lee Maguire, for one, thinks it’s time to cut all ties to the mother ship and go it alone.

The associate dean of business management thinks the faculty or business can score a corporate sponsor, or “white knight,” to tend to the school’s every need.

If one faculty were to go, there may be very little to stop other programs from claiming the right to rule their own destinies.

Already, a walk around campus takes you through distinct territories at every turn. On your way through Kerr Hall, you know when you’ve left the fashion department and hit an engineering wing.

Interior design, image arts, architecture, theatre, business—these are only some of the schools that lay claim to their own private domains.

Allowing them to become masters of their own fiefdoms would eliminate the level of bureaucracy ensconced in Jorgeonson Hall’s north tower, just the kind of streamlining and downsizing that jives well in our corporate culture.

Ryerson students could pay their tuition directly to the v.p. finance of their own program, and may even score some savings after all the high-rolling donors flow in.

But to raise the money needed to split, each program would have to follow the lead of so many other schools by selling off naming rights. Who doesn’t want their tag on a whole program of study?

Welcome to the Kodak School of Image Arts, or maybe the Wal-Mart School in Retail Management Studies—“We sell degrees for less”—or how about the Martha Stewart Centre for Interior Design.

Next comes The Toronto Star School of Journalism and Literacy Studies, even the joint  CTV/YTV School of Radio and Television Arts. You may see the Ford Centre for Performing Arts Studies (housed in the theatre school), and the Holiday Inn Hospitality and Tourism Management Centre.

Administrators could initiate graduate programs that fit the demands of their students, and attract faculty with offers of top-notch facilities and research support.

Students would barely notice a difference, seeing how little school spirit exists outside each insular program.

You would need some services operated through a central body, things like computer and technical support, security, physical plant. But that would only help each program avoid that whole gated community stigma.

All this, of course, hinges on each program’s rulers finding the corporate sponsors with pockets deep enough to write them blank cheques, sending them well on their way to becoming masters of their own domains.

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