Ivey is preparing to welcome 12 outstanding young business and community leaders who were displaced by the war in Ukraine to its MBA program, and has launched a new fundraising initiative to support them.
Associate Professor Adam Fremeth, HBA ’00, Faculty Director of Ivey’s Accelerated MBA and MBA programs, said the Ukrainians identified as being a fit for Ivey’s program have impressive backgrounds. This incredible group of women includes entrepreneurs and leaders of various non-governmental organizations as well as those with corporate work experience.
“We’re starting to see the details of who we have coming into the program and it’s really quite fabulous,” he said. “Hearing about their experiences will add richness to the class discussions. We’ll all be able to benefit from their visit despite it being out of this tragic situation.”
Preparing for the students’ arrival
Representatives at Lviv Business School of Ukrainian Catholic University and National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy identified Ukrainian graduate students for Ivey’s MBA. The students are being offered the opportunity to enter the program on an exchange basis through the Academic Shelter Program, which was spearheaded by Ivey’s MBA program and the Dean’s Office with support from Western International.
Since nine of the 12 exchange students would like to come to Ivey as soon as possible, Fremeth said Ivey has connected with Western International, which will be managing immigration and VISA support, to start the logistics for their arrival.
“Now that it’s becoming a reality, we need to find ways to support these students and to find the resources they need to be successful,” he said.
Ongoing support plans
Fremeth said the current MBA class is excited to meet the Ukrainian students and has put together a welcoming committee. A buddy system will be used so the exchange students will have a partner from the current class to provide on-the-ground support throughout the program. Ivey also intends to engage with the local Ukrainian community in hope that it will offer social and emotional support to the exchange students.
“They’ll need ongoing support given the challenges they have at home and we also want them to feel that they have a solid network and are connected with what’s here in Canada,” he said.
Preparing for student success
Over the next few weeks, MBA program faculty and staff will be answering the Ukrainian students’ questions about the program. Many Ivey faculty members have also volunteered to participate in an orientation session for the Ukrainian students, including an introduction to case-based learning and business fundamentals classes.
“The idea is to ensure the students succeed in our program and our colleagues are doing everything they can to help with that process,” said Fremeth. “The values of the School are directing our actions. We think it’s extremely valuable for these students to be able to continue their education, but also for our community to understand the impact they can have as global citizens and in building community beyond the walls of our building.”
Fundraising for the cause
The School is waiving the MBA tuition and providing free learning materials. Additionally, thanks to the generous support of an Ivey alumnus, individual student accommodation is being provided by London Property Corp. and Ivest Properties Ltd. The Ukrainian students will still have monthly living expenses and costs associated with the transition. The School is hoping to raise $350,000 through the new Academic Shelter Fund, which will support the Ukrainian exchange students and other students fleeing conflict in the future.
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“The overall costs of this program are significant and our hope is that we’ll be able to rally that support from our community to allow these students to continue their education,” said Fremeth.
Helping Ukrainian scholars
Dean Sharon Hodgson said the MBA exchange opportunity is just one of several Ivey initiatives to help the people of Ukraine. The School is also working with Western University and the international Scholars At Risk Network to bring Ukrainian Visiting Scholars to Ivey, as well as on other plans to potentially fund post-doctoral researchers.
“As Canadians, and as educators, it’s important to do whatever we can to support this humanitarian crisis,” said Hodgson. “Our goal is to provide an opportunity for Ukrainians to continue their education and research so that when the war is over, they can return home to help to rebuild Ukraine.”
Stepping up in times of need
Cathy Vitkauskas, Executive Director of Ivey Advancement, said the Ivey community and friends have always generously supported the School, particularly in critical times of need, and she suspects this cause will be no different. A recent example was the tremendous response to support Ivey students whose financial circumstances were impacted by the pandemic.
“We are truly grateful for the loyal and generous support from Ivey alumni. Time and time again, the Ivey community has stepped up in times of need, and supporting this important program is an opportunity to directly impact so many lives ,” she said.