The University of Lethbridge announced it has renamed its Faculty of Management to the Dhillon School of Business in recognition of Navjeet (Bob) Dhillon, President and CEO of Mainstreet Equity Corporation.
Dhillon, who pledged a $10-million gift to the university, the largest donation in the institution’s history, was also the impetus for the new, expanded curriculum, which focuses on finance and business innovation, entrepreneurism and internationalization.
As an innovative and transformational entrepreneur, Dhillon created a real estate empire by identifying an underserved niche in the market, supporting it with resources and nurturing its massive growth. He sees the same opportunity and potential in the University of Lethbridge.
“The future of Canada depends on education,” says Dhillon, who holds an MBA from the Ivey School of Business at Western University. “I wouldn’t have achieved the success I’ve had if it wasn’t for education. I’m a first-generation Sikh immigrant and I’m very fortunate that I’m in a position to make this contribution. This is my way of giving back to Canada. Supporting innovative education is key to launching Canadian talent in today’s connected world.”
University of Lethbridge President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon sees Dhillon’s support as transformational. “Our university was founded by forward-thinking mavericks, people who identified a need for a university in southern Alberta, and who pushed ahead with a wholly unique model that set the University of Lethbridge apart,” he says. “Here we are 50-plus years later and we’re still looking ahead, pushing boundaries and creating an educational experience like no other. This gift, this commitment from Mr. Dhillon, will help drive us forward.”
Dr. Bob Boudreau, dean of the Dhillon School of Business, says that both the Lethbridge and Calgary campus will offer the latest in hands-on training technology with a focus on integrating theory and research into practice. For example, it will emphasize futuristic learning through new technologies such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies and new growth industries, including artificial intelligence and robotics
“Our faculty has a history of creating transformational opportunities for students,” says Boudreau. “This incudes providing them with flexible learning options at our two campuses; creating access to cutting-edge technology like the Centre for Financial Market Research and Teaching, the best equipped academic trading centre in Western Canada; and immersing students in experiential education through professional development programming, co-op, international exchanges, work studies and more.”
Through the University of Lethbridge, Dhillon eyes opportunity in an underserved market. With strong connections to the region’s business sector through industry partnerships and investment, innovative academic programming and a vibrant and growing immigrant population, he sees the framework of a destination university town rivaling any in Eastern Canada and the United States.
“I was very fortunate that the importance of education was drilled into me by my family, my parents, my brother, really everybody around me growing up,” he says. “Education is what drives successful global nations and Canada is unique in that there is so much opportunity here. The U of L is a world-class university that the world needs to discover.”
Dhillon is keenly aware of his position as an industry leader and similarly a pioneer for his community. He does not see his philanthropy as a solo act but rather a call to action.
“I am an immigrant and a businessman and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities I’ve had growing up here in Canada,” he says. “We all have a chance to give back to this country and to do so through education is critical for our country’s young people. I want to see our youth succeed. I want to see Canada prosper. We can do that through education, by making the Dhillon School of Business a leader in financial and business innovation and Western Canada’s destination for finance and business education.”