“During our dinner conversation, he told me that the ICB was about to enter an agreement with a British school (the name of which I don’t remember) to establish an MBA program tailored for the banking industry. I got upset!” Ray Klapstein
In December, 1994, I was in Banff teaching the Law course in the Professional Banking Program for the Institute of Canadian Bankers. The Director of the program at the time, Jacques Vanier, came to introduce me to the class and open the course. He took me out for dinner at a restaurant in town. During our dinner conversation he told me that the ICB was about to enter an agreement with a British school (the name of which I don’t remember) to establish an MBA program tailored for the banking industry. I got upset! I asked why the Institute would do that with a non-Canadian university. He told me none were interested. I asked if Dalhousie had been considered. He told me that it had not been asked – apparently Rosaire Couturier, the Institute’s CEO (whom I’d met but hadn’t yet really gotten to know) had discussed it with Saint Mary’s (and others) and been rejected – apparently, the logic was that surely if Saint Mary’s wasn’t interested, Dalhousie wouldn’t be. I suggested that was an unfair conclusion, and said “let’s design a program right now.” We did, on the back of a paper placemat, while enjoying a glass of port. The design was simple – a full slate of Dalhousie core MBA courses with the ICB’s PBP courses treated as the electives, forming an MBA program with a specialization in banking.
“I suggested that was an unfair conclusion, and said “let’s design a program right now.” We did, on the back of a paper placemat, while enjoying a glass of port.”
I was just a lowly Associate Prof at the time, with no experience in designing and securing approval of a new program – naïve and ignorant. Given that, I resolved to present the concept to our President, Tom Traves (whom I had yet to meet), thinking if he thought it was a good idea, I’d work on it; if he didn’t, I wouldn’t waste my time and energy.
“When I was done, he pointed to the door. My first thought was that I was being told to get out…”
In early January, 1995, I made an appointment and went to see him. I introduced myself and told him I had an idea for a new MBA program. I told him about the ICB, and gave him the details about the nature and quality of the PBP, being careful to explain that it was designed as a set of MBA level courses, developed and delivered by top-notch and well qualified faculty members from a collection of Canadian university business schools. When I was done, he pointed to the door. My first thought was that I was being told to get out, but then he said “Do it. If you need anything from me, let me know.”
“Rosaire did, though, open a window – he said he’d delay signing the agreement with the British school for 3 months; if I could get the program approved at Dalhousie in that time, he’d sign with Dalhousie instead,”
With the President’s support in hand, I contacted Rosaire. He wasn’t enthused, but said he’d be willing to meet with me. I flew to the ICB’s head office in Montreal (at my own expense, I might add). I had a meeting with Rosaire and his No. 2 at the time, Peter Casquina. My personal conclusion resulting from that meeting was that they liked the idea, but didn’t believe it could be implemented, given the lengthy and detailed program approval processes at Canadian universities and the typical academic snobbery with which they viewed industry-based professional programs. Rosaire did, though, open a window – he said he’d delay signing the agreement with the British school for 3 months; if I could get the program approved at Dalhousie in that time, he’d sign with Dalhousie instead. He wished me good luck and asked me to keep him posted.
I came back to Dalhousie, called Tom Traves and updated him. He said WE are going to have to give this top priority and reminded me that he was there to help. I met with our Dean, Phil Rosson, and gave him the full story. He got excited and was immediately on board. We established a committee within the Business School, designed the program and its Dalhousie components, had internal subject-matter experts assess the PBP courses, and secured all the necessary approvals at the School and Faculty levels within the 3 months. But a lot remained to be done – a host of approvals within the University, plus MPHEC.
“Being emboldened, I then explained that we were going to need financial help from the ICB, given the course development costs we were facing. On the spot, he (Rosaire) said the ICB would help out with $10,000 per course.”
I contacted Rosaire and gave him a full progress report. He was obviously both pleased and impressed. He seemed to forget his 3 month deadline. He asked when final approval was expected. I told him that President Traves had told me that he was optimistic about completing the internal processes (including Senate approval) by the end of the summer. Rosaire was happy with that. Being emboldened, I then explained that we were going to need financial help from the ICB, given the course development costs we were facing. On the spot, he said the ICB would help out with $10,000 per course.
As they say, the rest is history. MPHEC approval came in the fall of 1995, and the first students entered the program in 1996. There were many other landmark achievements to come, but those are stories for another time.
I firmly believe that the reason this came to fruition the way it did is actually very simple: everyone involved believed in it and all involved (most notably Rosaire Couturier, Tom Traves, and Phil Rosson) were always as good as their word – commitments given were always commitments fulfilled.
“There were many other landmark achievements to come, but those are stories for another time.” Ray Klapstein
R.M. Couturier says
The PBP had been approved by the industry, developed by the Institute and being offered. It lack university approval and while all the names mentioned played a role In the final outcome. The program needed a champion within the university environment, Prof Ray Klapstein took on that role. He made the MBA (FS) happened through sheer determination. He deserves a commemorative plaque!!
He has was lasting gratitude.
Ray and your efforts made a difference to many people. I am proud to have achieved the MBA(FS) It changed the course of my life. Thank you!!!
Debbie McColl says
Bravo to Ray for making that happen. I remember him telling me this story and it was the beginning of a unique program that has excelled in over 20 years.
Debbie McColl says
Should say for over 20 years
Katie Haigh says
Ray, I would expect no less of you! Thank you for your stories, passion and love of getting a great idea started with port.
I have been fortunate to be a part of the support team for this program for 17 years, it has been a pleasure to work with such dedicated students, faculty and a wonderful team. Thank you Ray and Rosaire for bring the program to life.
Yvonne Thevenot says
What a wonderful story, that continues to benefit so many of us today! A snapshot of that inaugural class in this LinkedIn post… https://www.linkedin.com/posts/yvonne-thevenot-she-her-64779a5_throwbackthursdays-throwbackthursday-dalhousieu-activity-6818942767746707456-Dxr-
Thank you for reminding me of this post Rebecca Budd!