Leading By Example

Eva Klein and Leonard Waverman
Sheldon Gordon
Magazine Section: 
Campaign Update

Academic couple gift $25K to UC Library

Leonard Waverman (BA 1964 UC) looks back happily to his undergraduate years at UC.  “I remember the old chemistry room, the Junior Common Room, the hallways, the gargoyles outside,” he says.  “I could walk through it with my eyes closed. It was a home away from home for me.  Actually, it was better than home.  It was so much fun.”

Waverman, 73, has enjoyed a full academic career – three decades as a Professor of Economics at U of T, a decade at the UK's prestigious London Business School (LBS), an appointment as Dean of the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business, and – since January, 2013 – Dean of McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business. In 2012, he was honoured with the University College Alumni of Influence Award.

Yet his four years at UC in the early 1960s still occupy “a special place in my heart,” he says.  “It was a very warm, friendly, welcoming institution.”  Why did he affiliate with UC? “Because of its liberal reputation,” he says.  “I never thought of going anywhere other than University College.”

He became friends with fellow UC students such as Ira Gluskin (now an investment manager), Fred Webber (now an arbitrator) and Diana Bennett (now an artist). In 1963, he served as social director on the UC Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit) – the oldest elected student government in Canada.  It was a formative experience for him. 

Years later, he took his grandson to the Junior Common Room, where a wall panel lists all the students who were on the UC Lit executive.  Says Waverman: “That really impressed him when he saw my name!”

This deep attachment to UC underlies the $25,000 donation that Waverman and his wife, Eva Klein, a Professor of Psychiatry at McMaster University, have made to UC for the restoration of a library alcove. “When I was tired,” he recalls, “I would find one of the alcoves with a big leather seat and take a nap.  That's why I wanted to refurbish an alcove.  It's where I slept.”

Waverman and Klein liked contributing to a building project, having established a graduate scholarship in economics at U of T when they married 12 years ago.

“University College is a venerable building which has to be renewed,” says Waverman. “These days, the province of Ontario just has no capacity to do that.  So it's critical that alumni step up to the plate – or rather, to the building.”

He adds: “This is where we all shared such good times.  It made us who we are.  So we should give back, according to our means. Education made such a huge difference to our lives.  It's not just what I learned in class but also outside of class.  It was leadership that I learned at UC.” 

Klein is a professor in McMaster's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences.  A PhD clinical psychologist, she has specialized in organizational change, personal change, and leadership. Prior to joining McMaster in 2013, she spent five years as Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Haskayne School of Business and six years as a Teaching Fellow at the London Business School.

She describes that, UC was “the entree to a wider world than [her husband] had previously experienced. He has such warm feelings about his undergraduate years there that I'm enthusiastic about supporting this project with him.”

Waverman says his father had wanted him to study medicine, “but the sight of blood made me nauseous.” Commerce and finance, though, intrigued him. “In those days, it was mainly economics and math.  In my first economics class, I was, like, 'Wow, this is theoretical yet applies to the real world.'”

Waverman seemed destined for an accountancy career.  He majored in accounting while working at a chartered accounting firm on Fridays to earn money for tuition. 

However, two of his economics profs, Mel Watkins and the late Donald Forster, persuaded him to continue in their field.  He did a Masters in economics at U of T, taking Marshall McLuhan's  famous seminar in media and society. He then applied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for doctoral studies in economics.

When it came to choosing between Waverman and another applicant for a spot in the PhD program, a member of MIT's selection committee who was usually silent spoke up: “Everyone we let in is a clone of everyone else.  But look at Waverman.  He has a letter of reference from Marshall McLuhan.” It was a done deal, and so began a brilliant career in academe.

Hired by the Department of Economics at U of T, Waverman broke new ground in research on energy pipelines. But in the mid-1970s, when the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution invited several young economists to write papers on regulated industries, his specialty was already spoken for.  So he shifted his research focus to the telecom sector, which shared characteristics with pipelines.

His research on mobile phones and economic growth became the subject of an Economics Focus section in The Economist magazine in 2005.  He was recognized in 2009 as one of the world’s 50 most influential thought leaders in the telecom industry by Global Telecoms magazine.

Waverman became a visiting professor at the London Business School in 1997.  “I’d never been in a business school before,” he says.  When his sabbatical ended, LBS hired him as a full professor.  I became more entrepreneurial, more business-focused, and moved away from teaching my electives in economics to teaching MBAs.  It ultimately led me to being a Dean.”

As Dean of the Haskayne School, he started an Energy MBA and launched the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business, which put ethics at the core of the curriculum.  He says the tagline was, “Ethics is not an elective.”

Now, in his current position, Waverman is bringing together the best faculty and students from the business and the health sciences schools in a joint graduate program in global health. DeGroote is also launching a new Executive MBA program in digital transformation.

“A big part of my job as Dean involves fundraising,” says Waverman.  With the gift to UC, he's leading by example.


Photography by Christopher Dew