By James MacDonald
James MacDonald
Mar 13, 2023

To the Dean of the Rotman School of Management

An Open Letter for your Consideration, Leadership and Action

Thank you for your invitation dated February 24, 2023 to alumni of the
Rotman School for input into the process to select a candidate worthy of
receiving the Rotman Lifetime Achievement Award.

While this award was established to honour a seasoned graduate’s
significant contribution to their organization, industry, and community,
I would like to be assured that foremost in the minds of the Selection
Committee would be the identification of candidates whose core values
are integrity, honesty and professionalism, free of unlawful and
unethical conduct.

These qualities are fundamental in my view to anyone and everyone and
certainly to someone being considered for a Rotman Lifetime Achievement
Award. Far too often, these core values are overlooked and supplanted by
a focus on status, titles, and financial achievements.

I would suggest that the candidates be subject to a review by arm’s
length, outside experts to ensure that the candidates have not engaged
in actions that could bring disrepute to the Rotman School and to the
University of Toronto.

With such a vetting process, you would be able to assure students and
faculty, past and present, and the broader university community that the
nominee is not:

-someone who has been witness to unlawful behaviour of their employing
institution where they could have, and should have, stood up to insist
that such unlawful behaviour is unacceptable and must be stopped,
corrected with any damaged persons promptly reimbursed, and,

-someone who has been witness to or who has participated in sexual abuse
themselves or who has been aware of or participated in the development
and execution of a strategy to muzzle the victim or victims through Non
Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and the issuance of hush money whereby the
abuser continues employment without any sanctions, with the incidents
not reported to Law Enforcement, thereby enabling the abusing employee
to be free to repeat with one or more new victims.

The Rotman School and the University of Toronto are leading institutions
in the community and, more broadly, the country and internationally. As
a graduate of both the Rotman School and the University of Toronto, I
want to be proud of these institutions and to contribute to their future
success. Future generations of students need to be safe physically and
both intellectually and ethically.

I am sure you would not want one of your loved ones to start their
career with hopes and aspirations, only to have them crushed and
assaulted by a highflying company “rankism” executive, a predator.
You know, the one that thinks and knows s/he can walk on water, do
whatever they whomever they want...even if it is your loved

We must stand up and stop abuse of any sort [all sorts] in the
workplace. Because, if we do not show leadership, then these abuses are
bound to be repeated and protected by senior management seeking to hide
such activity through the issuance of hush payments and NDAs.

Abuses have gone on for far too long in the fields of sport, religion
and the workplace.

For example, we need to question and forensically autopsy that executive
that was  involved in recruiting and preparing young women to be
available to service the Team Canada hockey players in London, Ontario.
Where was this business executive educated and what emphasis, if any,
was placed on ethical and legal behaviour? What would be the assessment
of current students and alumni of the Rotman School? Would it be one of
disgust and revulsion or would it be one of “Boys will be boys”?

I would propose that the nominee must certify though a sworn statement
that throughout their career, they have always acted ethically and with
integrity. It is a high bar, but a bar worthy on achieving. We would
expect no less for a doctor, or lawyer or judge or any other fiduciary.
This should be and must be the standard we demand of our Rotman MBA and
Doctorate degrees graduates to make them a professional fiduciary

We know how difficult it is to build a strong positive reputation and we
all know how quickly such a reputation can be destroyed, taking down the
person and the institution. One only needs to consider cases such as
Arthur Anderson, Harold Ballard, Peter Nygard, Jeffrey Eptstein, Garth
Drabinsky, Alan Eagleson and now Rupert Murdoch.

I urge you to choose wisely. The safety of our students and the
reputation of the Rotman School and the University of Toronto depend on
it. All Business Schools throughout the country have this challenge and
the challenge for you as Dean of the Rotman School is to lead by
principle and by example.

Would you want any graduate to work for an organization that protects
abusers and wilfully violates laws such as provincial or federal
employment laws?

And looking forward, Rotman should develop, adopt and implement its own
unique proprietary personal fiduciary standard for its graduates, a
code, an oath for Rotman grads to profess and adhere to in both their
personal and business career lives.

  By copy of this letter to Meric Gertler, President of the University of
Toronto, I would encourage you to undertake a thorough independent
review of all previously endowed Chairs at the University of Toronto to
assess reputational risk.

Respectfully submitted,

James MacDonald MBA (1975), University of Toronto