Written by Jess Borys, Communications Manager
Dr. Michael Benarroch never envisioned himself as the president of the University of Manitoba (UM). It wasn’t a goal etched into his life plan; rather, his journey unfolded organically, guided by a genuine passion for teaching. Now he’s leading Manitoba’s flagship university to transform people’s lives and support the success of industry in our province.
“As an undergraduate student, the economics department chair asked me if I would teach a summer course at Robertson College. That’s where I fell in love with teaching. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to be an academic.”
Benarroch got an academic position at the University of Winnipeg after graduate school. Throughout his career, he appeared to be good at administration, and he started taking on more leadership roles.
“Over time, I found I could move from impacting a classroom to impacting a department or faculty and now an entire university,” said Benarroch.
Before his role as President, Benarroch served as the Dean of the I.H. Asper School of Business at UM from 2011 to 2017 and before enjoyed a 21-year-career with the University of Winnipeg, where he was chair of the Department of Economics from 1999 – 2007. He served as the University’s Faculty of Business and Economics founding dean from 2008 to 2011.
Benarroch left Winnipeg to serve as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at Toronto Metropolitan University from 2017 to 2020.
“I would not be president without the support of the community here in Manitoba. Through all of my positions, I have felt so lucky to be working in this position. When we are unified, and we support each other, there is nothing Manitobans can’t do.”
When we are unified, and we support each other, there is nothing Manitobans can’t do.
Reflecting on his journey, Benarroch acknowledges the stark contrast between the knowledge he possesses now and the insights he had during his early academic years. When asked what advice he would give his younger self, he shared, “When I was in university, I don’t think I realized what an enormous impact university has on people’s lives. Education has this amazing ability to transform people’s lives if you can take full opportunity of that. Here in Manitoba, you can see how important post-secondary institutions are to the fabric of this province and the future of Manitoba. It is not a hundred-yard dash; it’s more of a marathon.”
As the work landscape changes rapidly, it is crucial to understand the trends and strategies to prepare the future workforce for success. At The Chamber’s luncheon on October 20, Benarroch will highlight how UM, as Manitoba’s research university, is uniquely positioned to proactively prepare students to excel in the ever-evolving world of work, impacting economic innovation and growth in the province and beyond.
“As we have engaged more with The Chamber, we are learning about what we need to do to improve our university– It has strengthened us. We continue to be open to engaging in these discussions on where we need to improve. With an ever-changing labour market, we must learn what we can do as a university to best serve this province and help keep the University of Manitoba strong.”