By BERNIE BELLAN
After a five-year tenure as Dean of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Michael Benarroch will be leaving Winnipeg to take up a new position at Ryerson University as Provost and Vice-President Winnipeg.
Prior to becoming Dean of the Asper School of Business, Michael had been the founding Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Winnipeg. In information available on the University of Manitoba website, it was noted that Michael Benarroch is a “graduate of the Unversity of Winnipeg with a BA(Hons) in Economics , he received his PhD in Economics from Carleton University in 1992 and a Masters from the University of Western Ontario in 1984. His research has focused on international trade, economic development, environmental economics and government policy and he has written widely on these subjects. Dean Benarroch served as an Associate Editor for The Encyclopaedia of Manitoba published by Great Plains Publications.”
We spoke with Michael Benarroch about the circumstances that led to his deciding to take on a new position relatively late in life. (He’s 57.)
Michael explained that he was first approached to take on the new job toward the end of 2016. “I wouldn’t say I was ever planning to move,” he noted. “I’ve been extremely happy in my position. It’s been incredibly rewarding to be at the Asper School and before that at the University of Winnipeg. But they asked me to put my name in, which I did, and I went for an interview and there was a really, really nice connection between the people at Ryerson and myself…It was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
“In addition one of the issues for me and my family was that my wife had a really good job in Winnipeg. (Michael’s wife, Kim Bailey, is the Director of Healthy Sexuality and Harm Reduction at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.)
“They said ‘We can connect your wife to people in Toronto. Can you send us her resumé?’ When we sent Kim’s resumé they realized that they were developing a position at Ryerson that would be perfect for Kim. They interviewed Kim and offered Kim the job also.”
I suggested to Michael that this “was a late move in his career”.
He agreed, saying that it was “a late move and the reason for that is that I’ve had a number of other opportunities but we didn't want to leave Winnipeg. I always thought that the opportunities that were being offered to me were not necessarily better than the opportunities I was receiving in Winnipeg…We’ve been very happy in Winnipeg so, in many ways, this upsets a very comfortable lifestyle that we have here.”
“This is really a very special opportunity though,” he adds. “Ryerson has really grown in the past few years. It’s known as the ‘innovation university’ in Canada. It has two central features in its mandate. One is to be extremely innovative in its programming. Number two is to be a city builder around innovation and entrepreneurship. That’s something we’ve really worked at at the Asper School – first with a gift from Izzy Asper and his family, then from Stu Clark for our entrepreneurship centre. We’ve really nurtured that and grown that over the last five years.
“The idea of city building and connecting with your inner city and community is also something that really resonates with the work my wife Kim has been doing. So, for the two of us, this was really just a great opportunity and an opportunity to work with a really great team.”
I said to Michael that I was told that his boss at Ryerson (whose name is Moahamed Lachemi) was Algerian. With the Benarroch’s having come from Morocco, I noted that he will have something in common with his new boss, I said.
“He’s been extremely welcoming towards me,” Michael noted. “He recruited me very hard – made it very difficult to say no. I feel very positively about how the two of us are going to work together. We think quite similarly about academia and what Ryerson wants to accomplish.”
Michael and Kim have two sons, Aden and Keenan. Aden is currently studying law at the University of Toronto, while Keenan is currently a student at the University of Manitoba and has one more term to complete. Michael says that Kim will stay on in Winnipeg until next January 1. By then Keenan should know what he wants to do next, Michael notes.
Michael says that he will be leaving for Toronto July 1. He asks that if anyone knows of an affordable place where to live in Toronto, please let him know. I suggested that it might be more affordable for him to commute between Winnipeg and Toronto. He says that he’s heard that suggested by more than one person.