Dr. Deborah Hurst

Welcome to Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business, Canada’s premier online business school.

Since its inception, AU’s Faculty of Business has been characterized and energized by its creative, entrepreneurial and dedicated faculty and staff.  We create high quality, accessible and relevant learning opportunities, starting with distance undergrad courses in the late 70s to the world’s first online executive MBA in the 90s, and on to an online doctorate and shorter leadership and management deveopment courses in the 2000s. Regardless of the program, our students connect theory with practice and apply new ideas to solve daily business problems and in doing so, provide immediate ROI to their employers. Our innovative spirit and quest for high quality learning combined with the ability to think ahead of the curve has always been our strength and, more than ever, is how we are known today.

We have gone through some big changes in the past few years, most notably merging our undergraduate School of Business with the Centre for Innovative Management, a unit formed for the sole purpose of launching the world’s first Online MBA for executives back in 1994. That merger made us a complete business school, offering a full spectrum of education options from undergraduate courses through to a doctoral degree, as well as a suite of customized, master’s-level, corporate learning options.

The merger also combined our two student and alumni communities. Today, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Management students and alumni are taking part in social and professional development activities that were previously limited to our MBAs. Importantly to our school’s ongoing success, this has resulted in more of our own undergraduate degree holders coming out to AU MBA information sessions. It makes us all very proud to see those who took their first degree with AU experiencing success, wanting to continue to advance their careers, and looking to us—again—to help them do it.

Of course we, and those familiar with our school, know our programs and the students who graduate from them are top-tier. Our next huge priority is making that fact more immediately obvious to the rest of the world. To that end, we are working on attaining accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB) International—a body known world-wide for its high standards and rigorous review of business schools. This type of accreditation provides an instantly recognizable stamp of quality, one we must have to ensure our degrees remain respected into the future, across and outside of Canada.

Another of our major strategic initiatives lies in expanding our online Leadership and Management Development (LMD) programs. This is a positive area of growth for the Faculty, and one I, personally, am very excited about. We are working with a number of organizations now with great success.  We recently received National Research Council funding to build a new series of LMD courses to address the Canadian challenges of innovation and productivity improvement, and are in the process of piloting a new series of LMD courses for entry and senior level managers in government.  Finally, we will submit a proposal for a new Leadership and Management Development certificate program this fall—once approved, this will give LMD students who complete a certain number and type of LMD courses a credential they can add to their resumes. It seems that every day now, we are establishing new contracts with corporations, governments, and professional associations—this is an increasingly busy and exciting area of the Faculty!

Whether it is through our entry programs or our doctorate program or Leadership and Management Development, our management education or our custom programs for individual industries and businesses, we will continue to push boundaries. We will always look for every opportunity to extend our reach and influence as a leader, both in the depth and forward thinking of the content we provide and in its accessibility to every Canadian or organization that can benefit from it.

 

 

Deborah Hurst, PhD
Dean, Faculty of Business
Athabasca University