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University of Toronto
U of T Great Past

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Question

What did the University of Western Ontario have to say about a new business school at the University of Toronto?

Answer Opening its business school a year earlier in 1949, UWO termed U of T's "wasteful duplication." Today's Rotman School of Management is ranked among the world's top 50 business schools.

On March 15, 1827, King's College - the precursor to the University of Toronto - was granted its royal charter by King George IV. Throughout 2002, U of T celebrated 175 years of Great Minds. As part of the celebration, the U of T website featured excerpts from The University of Toronto: A History, written by Martin Friedland, University Professor and Professor Emeritus of Law at U of T.

The business school had been established in 1950 as the Institute of Business Administration within the graduate school, following the report of yet another committee chaired by Harold Innis. Sidney Smith seemed to call on Innis to chair all the significant university committees during this period.

Sidney Smith
Sidney Smith, 1957

The report, drafted by the vice-chair of the committee, Vincent Bladen, had recommended that the institute not be part of the department of political economy, which was then "as large as some universities and...too unwieldy to carry on the interdepartmental and outside activities envisaged in graduate business."

Bladen was made director, but resigned in 1953 to become chair of political economy after Innis died. The University of Western Ontario, which had established a business school in 1949, complained to Premier Frost that the new Toronto program was a "wasteful duplication." Smith was summoned to the premier's office and in defence pointed out that the Toronto program, unlike that at Western, would not use the Harvard case study method and would appeal to part-time students. Frost apparently was satisfied.

Harold Innis
Harold Innis

The institute was not particularly successful in attracting full-time master's students. There were only about 20 full-time students in each of the two years, Bladen recalled, but there were "several hundred degree candidates working at night." After Bladen left, however, the institute "gradually began to curtail the night work." The institute's research record was weak. Warren Main, who became director in 1960, claimed that "the amount of research and the amount of writing was abysmally low." He was one of only two persons in the institute with a doctorate - a U of T degree, begun under Innis.


"They need a strong guiding hand," he concluded, "and that soon."

Bladen had been keeping an eye on the institute, and in 1958 he wrote to the incoming president Claude Bissell that it was "falling apart.…There are eleven members of the staff," he wrote. "Three have resigned, a fourth is on the verge, and I gather from what I observe and hear that the morale of the group is pretty low….They need a strong guiding hand," he concluded, "and that soon."

The University was unable to find an acceptable outside candidate and turned to Warren Main, who had joined the faculty from the University of Saskatchewan in 1953. The name was changed to the School of Business. Part-time degrees were eliminated, and the name of the degree was changed from a master of commerce to a master of business administration.

Warren Main and Donald Forster
Warren Main, seated, succeeded Vincent Bladen as the director of the Institute of Business Administration in 1960. The photograph, taken in 1963, also shows Donald Forster of the department of political economy

In 1972, the School of Business became the faculty of management studies, with John Crispo, an outspoken professor of industrial relations who had received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as its first dean. The faculty has continued to be noted for its strong research and the academic quality of its student body.

At the end of the 1990s, there were around 50 students in its PhD program. Its finance division has a particularly strong international reputation, with scholars such as Myron Gordon in corporate finance and John Hull in financial derivatives.

A $3 million donation from Sandra and Joseph Rotman - he graduated from the school with an MCom in 1960 - assisted in providing a new building on St George Street. A further contribution of $15 million by the Rotmans in 1996, which was matched by the University, has given the faculty - now named the Rotman School of Management - a greater ability to hire and keep it's faculty.

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