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Dean's Message - Spring 2021

Brenda Brouwer, Dean (interim)

By the time this magazine reaches you at home in one of the 85 countries where Smith alumni live, we will have just passed the one-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, we will be approaching one year since the murder of George Floyd, which ignited a call to action that resonated around the world demanding an end to systemic anti-Black racism. Both tragedies are driving transformational change at Smith.

The shift to remote teaching and learning has taught us a great deal about what can be achieved, what works and what doesn’t for both faculty and students, and how best to use technology to keep engagement and quality high. As we plan for a return to greater on-campus program delivery, we have an opportunity to apply lessons learned and be deliberate and creative in how we incorporate online elements to optimize the learning experience and benefit students.

The school has been engaged in creating a more inclusive community through purposeful actions and initiatives that break down barriers to access and participation as we eliminate inequities that have disadvantaged members of BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, underserved and under-represented groups. A culture of inclusion affords a rich learning and work environment where everyone feels welcome, feels they belong and are empowered to thrive. This is not only important, but essential to attract and retain diverse talent.

Guiding these changes is Smith’s newly released Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Indigenization (EDII) Strategy & Action Plan. Access, equity and inclusion are essential to our school’s future and to position our students to succeed as global citizens, role models and leaders. You can read more about the plan’s accountability metrics and how it will drive change on our website at

Some highlights of what has been happening at Smith include: Strong enrolment. People want to further their education when the economy falters. Program applications are up, as is student enrolment in Commerce and across most graduate programs. The lessons learned in our pivot to remote learning will help us make learning more accessible and extend it beyond degree programming—another strategy to support Smith alumni with lifelong learning.

New program offerings. In November, Smith launched the Master of Financial Innovation and Technology, the first program of its kind in Canada designed to address the significant gap in financial technology education. We also partnered with MIT to offer a new pathway into three of Smith’s AI and analytics-related master’s programs via the edX/MITx MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science, establishing a new recruitment stream. Our Executive Education team continues to build on our strengths to deliver short-format remote learning programs that address today’s changing needs of managers and executives. (“Leading Virtual Teams”, “Maintaining Motivation Through the Pandemic” and “Leading Through Turbulent Times” are just some of the timely sessions held.)

Thought leadership with impact. The Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF) at Smith released a landmark research report providing a data-driven capital blueprint for Canada’s low-carbon transition. The Capital Mobilization Plan and other important work from the ISF has garnered interest and recognition from industry and government. In November, Canada’s big five banks provided $5 million in funding to the institute in support of its mission. The Government of Canada has invited ISF faculty to present to key committees and now references ISF research in policy decisions.

We’re hiring new faculty. With new programs, strong enrolment and recent retirements, we will welcome five new assistant professors in July in the areas of Business Economics, Accounting, Finance and Strategy. We have also created a new position and are actively recruiting a faculty member with an excellent record of EDII-relevant scholarship and teaching. Additionally, Queen’s Principal recently announced the appointment of Dr. Wanda Costen as the new dean of the business school. You can read more about Dr. Costen here in this issue.

I will continue to serve as dean until the end of June, move ahead on our priorities, and check off a number of key items on the “to-do” list, as well as support a smooth transition.

I would like to close with a big thank you to our students, faculty, staff and alumni. Thank you for your resilience, grit and perseverance over the last year, and for the ongoing support as we learn how to do better, to be better and to stay true to our values.

Brenda Brouwer
Dean (interim)
Smith School of Business