- Mar 23, 2022
Less than 10 hours after Ivey Professor Gerard Seijts finished teaching a virtual session to executives in the IT sector at Lviv Business School of Ukrainian Catholic University, Russia began its ongoing military invasion of Ukraine. Shocked, saddened, and frustrated by the turn of events, Seijts sent an email to Ivey faculty and staff challenging them to reflect on what actions they can take during the darkest of times where citizens feel constant anxiety and fear.
Meanwhile, Associate Professor Adam Fremeth, HBA ’00, Faculty Director of Ivey’s Accelerated MBA and MBA programs, was in the process of admitting students to the MBA program, which was starting in just a few days.
Inspired by Seijts’ note, Fremeth initiated a meeting with Seijts and Ivey’s Dean’s Office to discuss ways the School could offer support. The end result is the Ivey MBA Ukrainian Student Academic Shelter Program, an initiative that offers displaced graduate students from Ukraine free access to the MBA program on an exchange basis. Western University Associate Professor Marta Dyczok and Western International’s Senior Director, Lise Laporte, were also involved in creating the program.
“We were welcoming a new MBA cohort with the opportunity to bring in new students so it just seemed like something that we had to do. Why not provide a similar opportunity to Ukrainian students to offer just one degree of stability in their lives?,” said Fremeth. “Our conversation was focused on what the School could do to live up to its values.”
Ivey will work with representatives at Lviv Business School and National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy to identify students in need who are enrolled in a masters-level program in business, finance, marketing, technology, or economics. In addition to having the MBA tuition fee waived, the students will receive free learning materials and a $1,500 a month stipend/scholarship to offset living costs. They are also being offered free housing thanks to the support of a generous donor. The School is working with organizations to support travel costs and Western International will help the students with immigration processes.
Preparing Ukrainian students to rebuild their country
Alexandra Chyczij, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said the hope is that these students will return to Ukraine armed with the skills and expertise to aid in rebuilding the country.
“One of the many horrors of Russia’s war against Ukraine is that a generation of Ukrainian youth will be robbed of their future,” she said. “This program is an opportunity for young Ukrainians to continue their education. Hopefully, when the war is over, these young leaders will be able to return home to rebuild Ukraine. We thank the Ivey Business School for this important contribution in support of the Ukrainian people.”
Seijts said he has no doubt the students will be able to make a valuable contribution to Ukraine. He is Executive Director of Ivey’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, which has a close relationship with Lviv Business School. Ian Ihnatowycz, MBA ’82, LLD ’13, and his wife, Marta, support the Center for Leadership at Lviv Business School, which collaborates with Ivey’s Leadership Institute on research, student programming, and outreach to advance work on leadership and leader character. Seijts said he has been always impressed by the quality of the students in Ukraine that he has met through this relationship.
“They are a very resilient people and they are ready to rebuild,” he said.
Looking beyond academic shelter
The academic shelter program is offering up to 10 graduate students immediate access to Ivey’s one-year MBA program, or the option to enrol at a later date, if more convenient. Ivey will provide exchange credits to the students for all completed courses and Fremeth said he hopes the initiative is the start of long-term relationships between Ivey and some institutions in Ukraine.
Ivey Dean Sharon Hodgson said building relationships in Ukraine fits with Ivey’s efforts to both develop leaders that give back to society and increase its international scope.
“As global citizens, we all have a role to play in advocating for and supporting global issues and humanitarian outreach as a consequence of situations like the war in Ukraine,” she said. “As a School, we must continue to make every effort to educate responsible leaders who can contribute to an open, inclusive, and sustainable world.”
To support the Ivey Business School’s program to provide students at risk from places like Ukraine with academic shelter, please visit www.ivey.ca/pledge, select Other, and indicate “Academic Shelter Fund” in the text box. Or, to speak with someone, please call 519-661-4161.