Retail giants buy into Rye

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By Natalie Alcoba

Sandra Doerksen spent last summer selling hats.

Now the retail industry is tipping its hat to her and three other retail management students who were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship on behalf of Hudson’s Bay Company, Loblaws Supermarkets Ltd., Sears Canada Inc. and Wal-Mart Canada Inc.

Doerksen, a second-year student, is the recipient of the Hudson’s Bay Award in Retail Management.

She found herself constantly applying the skills she learned at Ryerson while managing the Beau Chapeau Hat Shop in Niagara-on-the-Lake last summer. “This is a business program for people that want to get into retail — and everything is retail.”

Members of Ryerson’s administration, students, faculty and retail industry representatives gathered Monday to honour the students and scholarship donors.

Representatives of the companies were presented with a paper sculpture for their donations at the reception.

The four retail giants announced last June they would each invest $1-million in Canada’s only university-level retail management program to kick-start its $10-million fundraising campaign — student scholarships, an internet-based distance education program, and the on-campus program will each receive $2 million, and $4 million for research.

Donna Smith, director of the school of retail management, said the companies investing in the program that started in 1998 are investing in the future of their businesses. “They are interested in luring graduates,” she said. “Our first graduates will get at least seven job offers.” The first group will graduate in 2002 with degrees in business commerce.

Bill Turner, Sears Canada’s executive v.p. of merchandise and logistics, said this funding initiative brings together the best talent in retail.

“This is extremely important to the industry,” said Turner. “It’s a breakthrough.”

Turner, who is chairman of the school’s advisory board, said the curriculum’s relevance to the industry is what sets Ryerson’s program apart.

Kira Levine, Fausto Lopes and Jennifer Penney were the other students awarded the scholarships.

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