Harvard: The Bishop’s of America

The Principal's Residence at Bishop's has seen better days. This tends to be the case with Public English Universities en la belle province.

No, I didn’t flinch or stutter as I wrote the title of this article. It should be noted and emphasized that Harvard is behaving a little like Bishop’s University. Let me explain.

Last week, up-and-coming “newspaper” the The Globe and Mail published a story about the new Dean of the Harvard School of Business. This man, Nitin Nohria, made headlines because he did something that no other Dean of HSB has done in over 40 years. Mr. Nohria moved into a house on campus. “It was the only decision I made that my predecessors recommended against,” said Nohria.

Amazing. I know.

The reasons for Mr. Nohria decision to live on campus are pretty darn sound, whether you evaluate them with educational, business or community-development principles in mind. The Globe argues that Nohria argues that this marks his intention to throw-back the school to its academic and community roots. Here’s a quote of a quote from the article:

“There was a deliberate intent in which (HBS) was founded and the dean’s house was part of that. There was a feeling that this was a campus to which people would come to study and be part of a community,” says Prof. Nohria, 48, Harvard Business School’s 10th dean and the first to be born outside the US. “I always had the magical sense of this place.”

Let me tell you about a magical place. It’s called Bishop’s University and the school’s Principal – not President – is one of many faculty members and senior administration who live on campus. Today, Michael Goldbloom is the gentleman who occupies the Principal’s House these days – in my day it was the outstanding Janyne Hodder. Principals come and go, but the traditions don’t.

Principal Michael Goldbloom congratulates graduating students at his home - on campus - in Lennoxville, Quebec

During every Orientation Week first-year students visit the Faculty residences – located in the heart of campus – and seranade the Principal with the Bishop’s University school song. The Principal also invites the graduating students, by Division, to a champagne reception at his home on campus at the end of the semester – it’s a chance to congratulation them and wish them well for the journey ahead…the school’s modest goal is to host every student at a function at the house before they graduate. The home isn’t just a home, it’s a hub of scholarly community building.

And these are just two examples from what is perhaps the most vibrant campus communities in Canada.

Should Harvard Business Students seranade Dean Nohria now that he lives on campus? Yes, absolutely (it would make a great Organizational Behaviour case study). But, more importantly, people setting our to sculpt and shape and mould and impact certain communities should really live there while they do it.

Congratulations, Harvard. You just got a little bit closer to Bishop’s today.

Purple Kicks Ass

As many of our loyal readers know, a large part of the Daily Gumboot team are products of Bishop’s University. Located in the Eastern Townships of the Nation of Quebec (you’re welcome, Monsieur Renauld), Bishop’s is the smallest university in Canada and was once used to film a B-Movie about, I think, prep-school witches starring that girl from Coyote Ugly. Needless to say, the place is legendary for myriad reasons; from the poutine of Lennoxville to its vibrant-and-adventurous-community-building to the student-first faculty to the engaging – at times, ahem, intoxitcating - social life. But, not long ago, Bishop’s University had sputtering enrolment, corrupt and incompetent leadership and was on the brink of bankruptcy. The end was near.

Bishop’s Builds Community

The thing about Bishop’s, though, is that even though up-and-coming “print magazine” the Macleans‘s university rankings placed BU dead last in leaders of tomorrow (Editor’s note: this was my frickin’ grad year, too), well, the school’s delivery of a world-class, innovative and very, very, very social student experience ensures that people really, really, really like – and liked – going there. So, when the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) published its results in the Macleans last winter, well, Purple Kicked Ass! Bishop’s was the only school to rank in the top six in each of the survey’s benchmarks. Sure, the library doesn’t have “books” or “computers,” but that’s what research-oriented-behemoth-money-making-student-second schools are for! BU is about classrooms.

Needless to say, the community on campus and in the town of Lennoxville rallied around its storied educational institution and thanks to key players like Principal Michael Goldbloom, My Personal Hero Michael Childs, Jamie Crooks, David McBride, and some Awesome Alumni, Canada’s coolest school has “rowed back from the brink.” And those aren’t my words. Those ones are from up-and-coming “newspaper” the Montreal Gazette – hey, if CanWest News prints something like this it must be true.

For these reasons and more, you should care about Bishop’s University.

Reasons to Attend Bishop’s University

1. Small Class Sizes means that you actually get an education from a teacher, rather than a lecture from an expert…or that expert’s PhD student…or that PhD student’s TA…or that TA’s cousin, Phil (editor’s note: I heard that this may or may not have happened once at Queen’s University).

2. The History Department is unofficially ranked as tops in Canada – mostly because of

My wife Michelle didn’t go to Bishop’s. And she hasn’t really gotten over it.

its street credit as the only place you can find a Canadian Native and Environmental Technology specialist teaching a class about American Foreign Policy. Sure, it was dealt a blow by losing perennial all-star Michael Childs to the university’s administration and it hurt when cantankerous veteran storyteller Karl Wegert retreated past the Maginot Line on the Quebec border, through the sprawling wheat fields of Eastern Ontario before settling on the Steppes of Russia Manitoba to reflect on all things socialist. And even if you’re not in the faculty, well, the History Department has, um, a history of knowing how to have fun.

3. Powerful Alumni Connections means that people from Bishop’s take care of people from Bishop’s and that any time you happen across a fellow Gaiter Grad adventure, debauchery and/or a new creative enterprize is always a possibility. Our alumni are natural connectors and we open doors for the school and its students – past, present and future. If you haven’t already, join the BU groups on Facebook and LinkedIn today!

SUPERAWESOME BONUS REASON: The Innovative B.E.S.T. Program combines experiential learning, community service and overachievement to help the best and brightest of the institution transform from good to great and begin their post-BU journey at an amazing new level. Do you have what it takes to be the B.E.S.T.? Find out here.

Congratulations on your almost-being-out-of-debt and biggest-enrolment-ever, Bishop’s University. I’m raising a toast for you right now.

- JCH