Acsenda School of Management, EduCo in Canada

The story behind Acsenda’s ‘Pizza with the President’

At the beginning of each school term, Acsenda School of Management students are treated to a remarkable experience with President Neil Mort in an activity called “Pizza with the President.”

Acsenda President Neil Mort (far right) interacting with students

The event, which takes place over lunch and pizza for everyone, is an opportunity for students to meet with Neil in an informal, friendly setting and discuss topics of interest to them as well as the current events or concerns affecting their student life and adjustment in their new community. This is also an opportunity for them to be updated on developments and initiatives undertaken by the institution and how it lives by the “International Thinking, Individual Focus” principle.

This activity has been a long-running tradition at Acsenda. Initiated by past president Lindsay Redpath, the meeting takes place over the lunch hour and students are invited to have lunch with the College President.  Since pizza is a very popular food with students, it is also symbolic of the friendly atmosphere that management wants to achieve to encourage students to speak out and be engaged in the college.

According to Neil, the most important purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity for dialogue between students and management. It aligns with Acsenda’s core values and “international thinking, individual focus” approach to teaching and support for students. Students learn in small classroom settings where faculty are able to focus more on their individual learning needs. In the same manner, the “Pizza with the President” activity is Acsenda’s way of listening to students’ concerns that may impact on their studies.

“Our programs, faculty, and students bring a unique international perspective to studying management and business. Acsenda is a ‘living laboratory’ for learning about different cultures, business environments, and management practices in other parts of the world – and the friendly setting [of ‘Pizza with the President’] enables us to connect with students and get them engaged,” he adds.

Discussed in the most recent event are improvements in the new campus, issues such as student conduct and community respect and programs and activities that students would like to get involved in. Neil cited, as an example, their last gathering where students asked to revitalise Acsenda-hosted sporting events.

The feedback, so far, has been very encouraging. “The students found the event very helpful. From the discussions, we come up with a number of items to follow up on.  For example, we had a discussion about taking care of our campus.  This led to an initiative by the students to hold a recycling campaign. I also met further with a student regarding an idea she had for student volunteers and leadership,” he reveals. “I think the greatest sign of success is that students come out to the meetings, and there are significant improvements on campus and in the lives of our students resulting from these meetings.”

The next “Pizza with the President,” happening in October, will be announced on campus soon.