Arrival of Leonard Waverman as new dean marks the end of a tumultuous era at DeGroote School of Business

After a rocky two years, things at the DeGroote school will once again be business as usual.

This January, McMaster welcomed Leonard Waverman as Dean at the DeGroote School of Business. The appointment, which was announced last September, marks the end of a two-year period without a permanent leader at the business school.

While DeGroote’s previous dean came from a business background, Waverman’s experience is chiefly academic. Waverman, who holds a PhD in Economics from MIT, has over 40 years of university teaching and administration on his resume.

Most recently, he served as Dean of the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.

“It’s an adjustment,” he said of the transition from Calgary. “Each university is so different.”

Before working as dean at Calgary, Waverman held positions at the University of Toronto and the prestigious London School of Business in London, England. Over the course of his career, his particular research interests have been in telecommunications and the digital economy.

When the Silhouette sat down with Waverman, he was a mere three weeks into his five-year term.

“I’d be presumptuous to talk about plans [at this point],” he said, emphasizing that establishing a direction for the school would be a community effort. “Really, a dean is just one person.”

Even so, the economics professor has a vision for where DeGroote will go from here.

“I think every business school has to search for their independent identity, their DNA,” he explained. “I think we have very good programs at DeGroote, but I don’t think we market ourselves especially well. I think we have to enhance our reputation, and we have to have revenue growth.”

He spoke of broadening the school’s reach through public talks by faculty so that people become more familiar with academia and DeGroote breaks away from being an “ivory tower.”

McMaster has some damage control to do after the controversy regarding the last dean, Paul Bates, who was reassigned out of his role in 2010.

Bates was chosen in 2004 to lead the school because of his industry experience. A 2010 report from a president’s advisory committee on DeGroote explained that “hiring a dean who was successful in the business world … and could serve as a positive external face” was a strategic choice for DeGroote, which was seen to have a low profile in the business world.

The same report called the faculty of the school “dysfunctional,” and purported that the environment included “bullying, harassment, mean-spirited sarcasm, intimidation and disrespect.” While this atmosphere was said to predate Bates, the committee that produced the report alleged that he exacerbated it, and called for the University to “redefine his role” at the school.

Bates remains a member of the faculty at DeGroote. He teaches at the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington, a satellite campus that he helped to establish during his term, as well as serving as Strategy Advisor to the President.

The drama at DeGroote in recent years doesn’t faze its new dean, however.

“I’ve heard rumours about the previous controversy,” said Waverman. “But I’m really looking at the future of DeGroote, not into the past.”

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