Introducing the New Chair of Management, April Franco

Professor April Franco

“We are equipping our students with the tools and opportunities to be able to grow—how to learn and think critically—within our ever-changing world.”

- Prof. April Franco, Chair, U of T Scarborough Management


The Department of Management, together with the entire U of T Scarborough (UTSC) community, extends a warm welcome to April Franco, Associate Professor of Economics and Strategy, who began her six-year term as Chair of Management on July 1, 2020.

Prof. Franco becomes the fourth Chair of Management—and the first woman to hold that office—since the Department (formerly titled the Division of Management) was established in 1991.

Having joined UTSC in 2008, Prof. Franco's research focuses on the transfer, creation, and use of knowledge within organizations, and her work on spin-outs is considered groundbreaking. She has received two SSHRC grants and a National Science Foundation grant, along with two teaching awards and the Roger Martin and Nancy Lang Award for Excellence in Research. Prof. Franco holds a strong publication record, with articles in journals such as The American Economic Review, The Rand Journal of Economics, Academy of Management Journal, and Strategic Management Journal, as well as several book chapters.

Among her many leadership roles, Prof. Franco served as Associate Editor of Management Science and is a member of several editorial boards. She is currently the Program Chair for the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management. She has also served as Associate Chair, Research from 2011–2014 and 2015–16, and has been the PhD coordinator for the Economic Analysis and Policy area at the Rotman School of Management from 2016–2020.

We recently sat down with the Chair to reflect upon her experiences at UTSC and the path forward.

Department of Management: Prof. Franco, everyone is so delighted to collaborate with you in your new leadership role. What excites you about your new position?

Prof. Franco: I’ve been very fortunate to be at places where there were excellent faculty and students, but one of the things I really appreciate about UTSC’s Management Department is that our students are truly exceptional. Our focus has been to provide them with a broad understanding of all functional areas of management. It has paid off. I love going to convocation and hearing how almost all of our graduates have job offers already!

We’ve done a fantastic job for our students in the past, but the world is more connected and changing faster than before. Two skills I think are key to success are the ability to learn and the ability to think critically. Over their lives, these students will probably face at least one major career change. The ability to learn will mean that those changes won’t be so difficult. Critical thinkers can interpret what they see in the world and know what is possible. Within our Department, several new faculty members have created courses that focus on rigorous data analytics. This will give our students a huge advantage both right at the start of their careers and later. 

We have four years with our students, which is so little time. Giving them a strong foundation that allows them to grow even after they’ve left us and have a long, successful, and enjoyable life—leading the organizations of the future. That's our main goal.

M: What are your top priorities for your first year as Chair?

F: One of our most important goals is to maintain the highest quality of education in this remote footprint that we find ourselves in during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus will be to fully support our students and provide connections for them when they’re not on campus. What I hope to facilitate are opportunities for our stakeholders to interact outside of the physical and still foster social connections. We know that physical distancing is essential—but the social distancing doesn’t have to happen. Looking forward, I'm focusing on opportunities to continue strengthening relationships and partnerships within our stellar alumni network. 

M: In Management, we often talk about developing Experience to Lead within our students and our community. What does Experience to Lead mean to you?

F: It’s the idea that our students benefit from their co-op and Work Integrated Learning (WIL) experiences. Both experiences allow them to apply their knowledge and make connections to practice. We have an incredible setup with Management Co-op and The BRIDGE that allows them to take their learning to the next level. We have great and committed faculty and staff, and exceptional students. We have all the pieces in place to educate and prepare our students for the future.

Moving forward, I'm leaving the door open to listen to ideas from everyone. I expect to hear great ideas from our stakeholders; I can’t wait to see what ideas come up. By making sure that we move forward on those ideas, and giving credit, we can lead our students and Department together.

Connect with Prof. Franco on Twitter @aprilmfranco

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