Last week, the University of Calgary Faculty of Management changed its name to honour local businessman and former U of C Board of Governors Chairman Dick Haskayne, who donated $16 million to the university. Money drives things, that's great. We can never have too many people supporting post-secondary education. What's bothersome is the school's creative use of language shortly afterward.
Not an hour after the renaming, the business school's website displayed phrases such as "AACSB Accreditation since 1985," "Founded in 1967," "Our first BComm students graduated in 1967..." and "This past fall, the Haskayne School of Business announced a restructuring..." which all lend a misleading sense of age and maturity to the school.
While technically true--the Faculty of Management is accredited and has been around for a while--the statements are at best incomplete and not true of the entity known as the Haskayne School of Business which has existed for less time than some food in my fridge. They even boast that "more than 11,000 students have earned their degrees in the business school, including close to 1,800 MBAs and 20 PhDs" since 1967. True, if by 1967 they mean 2002, and if by 11,000 they mean zero. Creative accounting indeed. The only indication of the school's true age is buried in their site's news section under the headline "$16 million inspires naming of Haskayne School of Business."
The reasons why they simultaneously revised their heritage to recognize a particular donor and so blatantly ignored the change in their literature are baffling. Are they afraid to say they only recently became aware of Mr. Haskayne's generous contributions or do they simply want to hide their monetary motivations? An enterprise seeking money for providing services must be as mind-boggling as solid financials these days.
Claiming decades of work by the Faculty of Management as their own may add prestige to the school. Hard-to-spell names sound important. However, this logic lets them discard ex post facto any bad apples the faculty may have graduated; a sound business decision both ways. But doing so only slights the accomplishments of their predecessors and needlessly confuses both employers and students.
Lastly, let's compare what the school says on their literature: "Alumni are an important determinant of a school's reputation," with what Mr. Haskayne said about business: "The ethics and conditions of business conduct have been shameful--we have to change that. Business schools are the place to start."