University Senators wrestled with what’s in a name before approving the rebranding of the Department of Management and Organizational Studies to the DAN Department of Management and Organizational Studies, at their regular meeting last Friday. If approved by the Board of Governors next month, DAN will become the university’s first donor-named department.
“There has been a lot of debate about how you ensure a naming has good longitude, not just on the finance side, but around if the person or the company giving the donation fit with the culture, and if they are the kind of individual you want associated with that particular area,” Kelly Cole, Vice-President (External), explained to Senators. “Aubrey Dan is so engaged, so passionate about what is going on inside the faculty, the department and Western. You have a great match here.”
Calling changes like these a “sensitive matter,” the university’s Naming Policy states the naming of academic entities (programs, departments, schools and faculties) should consider “the appropriate values, determined through review of best practices and recent namings at the university and similar academic institutions across North America.”
Before reaching Senate, the name change was supported by Social Science Faculty Council and the Senate Committee on University Planning. It goes to the Board June 22.
In 2006, the Management and Organizational Studies program was renamed the Aubrey Dan Program in Management and Organizational Studies, in recognition of a $5 million gift from Dan. That gift continues to support faculty and students through endowments for professorships, faculty fellowships, a research fund and student awards.
In 2013, the Management and Organizational Studies program was named a department within the Faculty of Social Science. That meant the Department of Management and Organizational Studies contained the Aubrey Dan Program in Management and Organizational Studies. The Senate-approved name change clarifies the fact the department and the program are “essentially the same,” according to the proposal.
Home to more than half of Social Science students, the department offers a Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS) degree in six areas of study: Accounting, Commercial Aviation Management, Consumer Behaviour, Finance, Human Resource Management and Public Administration.
During debate, Senators questioned a handful of aspects of the renaming, specifically any influence the donor may have over the academic independence of the department.
Cole and Western President Amit Chakma, along with a handful of Senators, stressed they have no concern about maintaining independence.
“I have absolutely no hesitation in saying there will be no interference – interference, not engagement, as engagement can be a positive thing. We would never agree to interference in anything we do,” Chakma said.
Senator Bob Andersen, Social Science Dean, explained the value of the relationship with Dan.
“We’re lucky to have this donor. This is a guy who gives of his time, not just his money. He cares a lot about this place. He really does engage and help our students move forward. We are lucky to have people like this looking out for this university,” Andersen said. “We don’t want to ever take money if it is a problem – I feel 100 per cent confident this is something we should take. I am happy to. Naming the department for him is something he deserves.”
Dan, BACS’85, is President of the Dancap Group of Companies, including Dancap Global Assets Management and Dancap Private Equity Inc. Born in Toronto, Dan is a Tony Award-winning producer and philanthropist focused on children, health and education, including gifts to Tel Aviv University, Queen’s University, Baycrest Centre Foundations and Sunnybrook Foundation.
Dan received Western’s Alumni Award of Merit (Professional Achievement) in 2014.
In a light-hearted moment, the room of academics could not pass on the chance to ask about the department’s all-capital letter naming, including the possibility of confusing it for an unknown acronym.
The all-caps naming goes back to the beginning when the all-cap naming was “deemed to give more prominence, more attention” to the name “because it was only three letters long.”
Officially, DAN will be the university’s first donor-named department, although much of that depends on how one views the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Chakma suggested.