By Patrick Szpak
Associate News Editor
The bill is in from president Sheldon Levy’s 11-day jaunt to India, Jamaica and Paris, and Levy thinks the costs will be worth it for Ryerson in the long run.
The total cost of the 11-day trip, which included discounted meals and accommodation at five-star Taj line of hotels was $14,792, Levy said.
He was also receiving regular pay while on the trip. The immediate results of the trip are under-whelming: three memorandums of understanding and one letter of intent for a total of seven pages of typed text and five signatures.
The documents contain promises to develop closer links between Ryerson and the Indian Retail School, the Pearl Academy of Fashion, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the National Institute of Fashion Technology.
While short on specifics, the documents state that both Ryerson and the Indian institutes will develop links such as exchange programs for students, collaboration on research programs and distance education, among other things.
Levy was part of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s January business mission to India.
The trip was promoted as a way to develop links between Ontario businesses and those on the sub-continent. The trip was criticized by some members of the official opposition and the media as being a costly junket at the expense of tax-payers with little concrete benefit to the province. The final cost of McGuinty’s trip was over $1 million.
Levy was supportive of the motives of McGuinty’s trip and urged students to take a broader-view when assessing the outcomes of his trip to India.
“Truth be told, you are not going to have immediate returns. You’re betting over the long-term that these relationships prove to be advantageous to the university.”
Levy said those expecting him to come back from India with “buckets full of money” would be disappointed, stating simply that the world doesn’t work that way.
Dale Carl, a professor at Ryerson’s school of business specializing in cross-cultural leadership and strategic alliances, agrees. “Our big boss has to go (on these trips),” said Carl, adding that it’s the best way for the university to get signed agreements.
Carl said that if Ryerson wants to offer a competitive education for students, the university must make connections in places like India. He said that possible exchange programs and joint research would offer excellent opportunities to students and faculty who can take advantage of them.
Carl participated in McGuinty’s 2005 trip to China and said concrete results, like an exchange program, have only just materialized from relationships formed over a year ago.
A former diplomat, Carl said these kinds outcomes take time. Ryerson Student Union President Muhammad Ali Jabbar was pleased with results of Levy’s trip. “Hopefully (the agreements) will pay off for students at Ryerson as a whole.”