I have had the privilege of participating in many good-news announcements during my time at Laurier. Ours is a truly vibrant community, supported by generous alumni, friends and partners, all working together to develop innovative ways to deliver higher education and research for the benefit of individuals and society.
An outstanding example of this is our recent collaboration with Mike Lazaridis and the Ontario government. On Sept. 8 I had the pleasure of announcing that Laurier is naming its faculty of business and economics after the visionary entrepreneur who created the BlackBerry smartphone.
The Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, as it is now called, combines the strengths of an outstanding academic faculty with an internationally renowned person who symbolizes innovation and leadership. I also had the honour of announcing that the new home of the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics will be called Lazaridis Hall. This landmark building is nearing completion on University Avenue and will also house Laurier’s Mathematics Department.
These namings recognize a transformative investment of $20 million from Mike Lazaridis and $15 million from the Ontario government. Together, this combined $35 million will be used to create a world-leading centre that will focus on scaling high-tech start-ups, which are produced in great number in our community, into globally competitive businesses. Called the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises, this centre will address a significant gap in Canadian business education.
While Canadians regularly develop leading-edge technology, Canadian tech companies often have to look beyond our borders for business managers who have significant experience in the technology industry — especially in scaling small start-ups into robust companies that can compete in the global market. The Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises will change this by producing research and training a new generation of business leaders with in-depth knowledge of technology management. What is most inspiring about this endeavor are the collaborations, partnerships and synergies that comprise the new institute.
Laurier is situated in the heart of the Waterloo Region technology hub, one of the most vibrant tech ecosystems in Canada. This geographic advantage presents numerous opportunities for guest speakers, mentorship, co-op placements and other activities that leverage the technology expertise in Waterloo.
Second, the vision that Mike Lazaridis has for strengthening the Canadian technology industry aligns closely with Lazaridis School Dean Micheál Kelly’s strategy for “building Canada’s best business school.” Kelly’s own research involves technology management, venture capital, and strategic alliances. He believes that Laurier’s highly regarded and well-rounded business curriculum will be significantly enhanced by further developing our expertise in high-tech management.
Third, the Ontario government has long recognized the valuable contribution that Laurier makes to the social, cultural and economic prosperity of the province. The $15 million it has committed to help establish the Lazaridis Institute follows a previous $72.6-million investment toward the cost of building the state-of-the-art facility that will soon house SBE and Laurier’s Mathematics Department.
Taken together, the strategic alignment of these private and public investments shows the enormously positive outcomes that can result when individuals, governments and universities work collaboratively to advance our economy, our quality of life, and provincial and national prosperity.
It is also a demonstration of confidence in all that we do at Laurier. Our university is a remarkable institution, comprised of nine outstanding faculties, each contributing to the strength of the whole.
It is important to note that the Lazaridis gift is part of Laurier’s Building Canada’s Best Business School campaign. This campaign represents Phase One of a larger $131-million pan-university campaign, which will support all faculties.
To all of you who help make Laurier a truly great university, I extend my heartfelt gratitude.
President and Vice-Chancellor