This month one of Winnipeg’s most prominent business groups will celebrate three decades as a model for success, innovation and unwavering commitment to the future of business education in Manitoba.
In 1982 a group of prominent local business leaders were approached by Dean Roland Grandpre of what was then the Faculty of Management at the University of Manitoba. Grandpre’s vision was to form a group of high-profile leaders who could assist in the growth and visibility of the business school, to make the school one of the best in Canada, and to develop a much-needed bond between the school and business community.
Grandpre’s proposal had a corporate structure. The Dean would be CEO of the Associates and members would be “shareholders”. The Associates would have an elected Board of Directors and the Dean would be totally accountable to the directors and make an annual report to members as to the use of funds and what was achieved. In addition, Grandpre offered a forum for monthly meetings to feature interesting speakers, updates on activities of the business school and to dialogue and network with each other.
With a boardroom full of visionaries including Jack Fraser, George Richardson, Arni Thorsteinson, Albert Cohen, Kerry Hawkins, Kevin Kavanagh, James Pitblado and Del Crewson, Grandpre didn’t need to do much convincing.
Not only did Grandpre’s vision have instant appeal, but in 30 years the Associates have implemented initiatives that have brought international recognition to the Asper School of Business. Membership has grown to over 260 members and a companion group, the Young Associates, was started in 1993 and now has almost 200 regular members and 145 MBA members. But perhaps the group’s most well- known initiative is the annual International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award Dinner (IDEA), widely publicized for honouring internationally-renowned entrepreneurs.
“In addition to all the global accolades of the Associates of the Asper School of Business, they have never stopped keeping their eye on the real prize: supporting business education,” said Jack Fraser, O.C., a founding father of the Associates. “Today, they are arguably the most effective business community support group of any business school in Canada.”
The Associates see to it that membership fees and pledges go toward a $1-million endowment gift to the University of Manitoba. The Associates have either contributed or been instrumental in levering over $40 million in financial contributions to the School. The group led the first campaign to raise funds in 1985 to build the Drake Centre. Money also goes toward student awards and attracting top level faculty.
“Beyond the intangibles of the networking and speaking engagements, there is that immediate pride that comes from directly helping students get the best business education opportunities out there,” says Barry Rempel, Associates Board member and President & CEO of Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc.
Today, the Associates are a major asset to the Asper School of Business. The program allows the business community the opportunity to make a large and direct contribution to the business school’s direction, preparing the business leaders of tomorrow.
A private event will be held April 24, 2012 to commemorate 30 years of support by the Associates.
For more information contact Taralee Turner, Executive Director, Associates of the Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, 204-474-6201.