7, 2002, Gazette)
Bill Blake with wife Karen and children Christopher and Caroline.
As dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, Dr. Bill Blake
has had to make some tough decisions, but perhaps the toughest one
was deciding to step down as dean. His path to becoming dean was unconventional
and while his next career move may be perceived as that, Dr. Blake
is confident it is a step in the right direction.
One morning when he was flipping through the classified section of
the Globe and Mail, Dr. Blake saw an ad for a job opportunity
that would change his familys life. The job description
was perfect for my wife, Karen, said Dr. Blake. It was
a position at Kingston General Hospital in Ontario as vice president
of public affairs and development.
In February, Ms. Blake left her position as the executive director
of the communications and consultation branch of the provincial governments
executive counsel and started work in her new position at Kingston
General Hospital. Ironically, she is now working in the hospital where
Dr. Blake was born. In June, he and their two children, Christopher
and Caroline, will join her in Ontario.
This is a big move for all of us, he said. My second
term as dean would have been ending in a year-and-a-half, and I had
already decided not to seek a third term. But I could have taken an
administrative leave and settled back into the faculty here. Instead,
Ill be joining the faculty at Queens University. Karen
is already in Kingston so things are quite hectic here with running
the faculty, taking care of the kids and preparing to move.
Before moving to Newfoundland, the longest Dr. Blake ever lived in
any one place was eight years. Originally I thought wed
be here for two to five years. And now 16 years later, after building
our careers and starting a family here, were finding it hard
to leave. I feel closer to this place than to any other but Kingston
has always been on our short list of places wed like to live.
My family and Karens family are spread out across southern Ontario
and we would like to be closer to them.
A native of Kingston, and a graduate of the Royal Military College
of Canada, Dr. Blake spent six years in the Canadian Navy prior to
entering the University of Western Ontario where he completed an MBA
and a PhD in business.
Dr. Blake joined the faculty in 1986 and went from being an academic
to an academic administrator in six years, becoming the dean in 1993.
During his tenure the Faculty of Business Administration has undergone
many changes. He has led the development of teaching and support technology
for faculty and the establishment of a new bachelor of business administration
degree program that can now be completed via the Web. Most recently,
he has led the faculty through a two-year process toward accreditation
by the Association for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools
of Business (AACSB).
But Dr. Blake is most proud of the number of faculty members that
hes been able to support in the pursuit of their doctorates
and the development of 13 international student exchange partnerships.
Both of these initiatives can be truly life-changing and open
up new possibilities for the individuals involved.
Leaving the faculty wont be easy. In addition to leaving friends
and colleagues behind, Dr. Blake will also have to leave some unfinished
projects. He feels the priorities of the new dean should include a
fund-raising campaign to acquire new resources, to support scholarly
activities, and to address faculty salaries. Its important
that we attract and retain new faculty, he said. Its
also important that we invest in research and infrastructure so we
can continue to deliver high-quality programs.
As his final contribution, Dr. Blake and the faculty hosted a peer
review team from AACSB International in February. The final decision
regarding the accreditation of the Faculty of Business Administration
will not be made until April. However, if the review is positive,
it would be the first business faculty in Atlantic Canada to be accredited
by this international accreditation body.
We pursued the accreditation effort as an excellent foundation
on which to build, says Dr. Blake. It would give us a
tremendous opportunity to market the faculty and will help recruit
faculty members and students from across the country and internationally.
He also has a few pieces of advice for the new dean to help make the
transition a little smoother. An older dean gave me a piece
of advice during a conference for new deans that Ive never forgotten.
He said, from time to time, whether you need to or not, go on
a trip, because you need to. He was right; everyone needs to
be able to pull back from the day-to-day activities and spend some
time away from the job. It gives you a chance to focus on the big
Second, the world isnt always black and white. To be an
effective dean, you need to operate in the grey zone. Deans represent
so many stakeholders and perspectives. Its important to consider
all points of view before making decisions. Its important that
your colleagues perceive you as being fair.
And my third piece of advice is dont assume theres
a problem because someone says there is. When I first became dean,
if someone walked into my office and said the sky was falling, I would
run straight out and say the sky was falling. Now, I take more time
to consider the situation. Its usually better to sleep on it.