By Shirley Liu
This year and this year only, Gerard Kennedy, third runner up in the most recent Liberal leadership race, will be a visiting professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM).
Kennedy, who was approached by the school, said, “I’m very impressed by the spirit of Ryerson. It has always been a problem-solving university that can get things done … I think I can offer 24 years of good experience. I’ve always been in favour of better solutions.”
Prior to the leadership race last December Kennedy served as Ontario’s education minister from 2003 to 2006 and worked as executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank.
At Ryerson, Kennedy will give lectures to management students and conduct research on the role of enterprise culture in bringing business and political solutions to the economy.
Ken Jones, Dean of TRSM, said Kennedy’s presence will give the school additional prestige.
“We want to be the most connected business school in Canada, so individuals like [Kennedy] are fundamental,” said Jones.
“A lot of this is rep-building, bragging rights even, so that we can establish credibility. There’s an energy in our students and we need to provide direction for them and Gerard is just a really good fit,” he added.
Business professors echoed Jones’s sentiment.
Dr. Steven Gedeon said the appointment is generating “excitement in the air.”
“Gerard knows a lot of people and by making his network available to us, he is bringing tremendous value to our school and our brand.”
Melanie Dempsey, an assistant professor of marketing, said “I think the faculty is pretty excited.
“Right now, we’re trying to quote the brand, as who we are and I think he can bring some visibility and credibility to Ryerson.”
Unlike most Ryerson professors Kennedy has no formal training in either business or teaching, although he said he has considered the job before.
However, students, who were not all familiar with Kennedy’s past, are excited about a lecturer who will be able to provide a wealth of experience and is a natural leader.
Third-year hospitality and tourism management student Chantal Rancourt said, “I don’t know who he is, but he obviously has a lot of experience if he’s here.”
Later she added, “I like personal experience as it brings a more realistic view, so you don’t regurgitate what’s already in the text. I definitely want that from him.”
Third-year business student Barry White expressed another hope for Kennedy’s lectures.
“I would be interested if he talked about corporate social responsibility in the context of business since few government ministers do that,” White said. “I’m not surprised people don’t know him. I think he really has to reach out and connect with us.”
Gedeon urged students to make an effort to contact Kennedy.
“He has many connections and I urge students to seek him out.”
Kennedy said some students have already been talking to him since he arrived on Sept. 4.
“Students have been very friendly, interested and open. Some have already approached me to ask about my work … I’m lucky enough to be able to use business means for social ends.”
Kennedy’s contract allows him to leave Ryerson if a federal election is called and he remains as an advisor to party leader Stephane Dion and a nominated candidate in Parkdale-High Park.
Kennedy said he intends to run in the next federal election.