GUELPH, ON, Sept. 16 2009 – The University of Guelph and The Co-operators today launched a new centre dedicated to preparing a new generation of business leaders committed to community engagement and sustainability. The Co-operators Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship will be supported over the next five years by a $400,000 gift from the Guelph-based insurance and financial services organization.
Based in the College of Management and Economics (CME), this special-focus centre will be among the first of its kind on a Canadian university campus. It will serve as a gateway between the University and the community. Business students and faculty will work with social purpose organizations on a broad range of collaborative initiatives that have tangible benefits for everyone involved. Along the way, students will gain management and economic experience, create and launch new ventures and develop a sense of social responsibility and leadership. There will also be opportunities for faculty and graduate student research.
The donation, provided through The Co-operators Foundation, builds upon more than two decades of collaboration and partnership between the two organizations.
“Our values align very well with the mission of this new centre, which is to foster a commitment to community engagement and sustainability among future business leaders,” said Co-operators president and CEO Kathy Bardswick, who is vice chair of U of G’s Board of Governors. “Through the centre, students will have opportunities to get hands-on experience with non-profits and other local organizations, which will not only further their learning, but will also benefit our community.”
President Alastair Summerlee said such engagement is fundamental to the learning experience at U of G. “The drive to address real problems comes from a shared recognition of our civic and cultural responsibility. So from day one, we work to develop a sense of communal caring and interest in our students and faculty. We’re unique in Canada for this commitment. This gift from The Co-operators will allow us to raise our already high standards for community engagement and to focus on a culture of applied learning and innovation.”
In addition to establishing authentic and sustainable partnerships, the new centre will allow CME to expand several existing initiatives. They include the certificate program in community leadership, student business competitions, co-op placements and a partnership with the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre that enables students to develop and operate their own businesses.
“The development of entrepreneurial skills and compassionate attitudes among business students has never been more important than it is today,” said CME dean Julia Christensen Hughes. “The support from The Co-operators will help us achieve our vision for CME – a college with a true commitment to student and faculty engagement and to strengthening the connections between individual and community that are vital to social and business sustainability.”
Funding for the centre was provided from The Co-operators Foundation, which supports social economy enterprises and other worthy causes throughout Canada. The Co-operators history of collaboration and partnership with U of G spans more than two decades. Over the past five years, the organization has provided more than $250,000 to various projects and initiatives at the university.
About The Co-operators
Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies offering home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with assets of more than $7 billion. It is owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives, credit union centrals and like-minded organizations. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada. www.cooperators.ca.