“All Canadian schools are increasing in prestige and are competing on a world stage,” said Alex Bilyk, director of marketing and communications at Ivey. “You want to establish your school as a distinguished brand.”
“Schools are reliant on alumni and benefactors to attract and keep faculty,” he added.
Ivey is not unique in naming its school after a primary donor, as this is a common trend across the country.
“Joseph Rotman is our lead benefactor,” confirmed Ken McGuffin, manager of media relations at Rotman.
While recognizing the importance of name-branding, McGuffin was quick to point out it is the quality of the institution that ultimately matters.
“What’s far more important than the name is what the school is about. Fancy advertisements won’t help you if you don’t have the product to back you up,” he added.
Nonetheless, both Ivey and Rotman have chosen to market their names alongside their respective institutions.
“Western is our mother base and has an extremely strong brand in Canada. This reinforces our brand,” Bilyk said.
“We’re part of a great university. We try to maintain our brand with the University of Toronto,” McGuffin said of Rotman.
Unlike other prominent schools across the country, the Queen’s School of Business has chosen to retain its school name rather than name the school after any particular donor.
“We know Queen’s is a name in higher education that is highly recognized,” stated Richard Seres, executive director of marketing and communications for the school. “We would have a lot to give up by losing the name.”
Seres also expressed his personal concerns on the effects of associating a particular name with a school.
“I think you have to be careful with associating a school with a specific name. It can send a message that money drives the school,” he said.
While the Ivey family receives the benefit of having its name associated with the school, this does not entitle them to any privileges on the operation of the school, Bilyk confirmed.
“The ongoing operation of the school is up to the advisory board, dean and governing bodies,” he said.
Bilyk confirmed that the business school at Western has been named after the Ivey family since 1995.