College of Business Launch Marks ‘New Era’ of Cornell Education, Dean Says


Seven committees, representing Cornell constituencies, determined the administrative and academic structure of the College of Business, administrators say. (Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor)


This story was first published on July 1 here.

The deans of Cornell’s three accredited business schools assumed new positions July 1 as the much anticipated and hotly contested Cornell College of Business opened for business.

The newly merged Johnson Graduate School of Management, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and School of Hotel Administration will include an integrated admissions portal, cross-listing courses and improved career services, according to the University.

The college will be composed of 145 research faculty and almost 2,900 undergraduate, professional and graduate students, according to a University release.

Seven area coordinators have also been appointed, and will work as professors with their colleagues in the college to improve the education in different business topics at Cornell.

Dean of the College of Business Soumitra Dutta predicted that the launch marks the beginning of “a new era of business education” at Cornell.

“It is an exciting date in the history of Cornell but by no means completes our transformation efforts,” he said. “In the coming months, we will continue to evolve our organization to create an exemplary college while enhancing the brands of its three schools.”

A brand study to continue solidifying the organizational structure and ambitions of the school will be launched in August, according to the University. An advisory council will begin meeting in the fall.

The announcement of the formation of the College of Business in January led to pushback among students and alumni in the affected schools. Protesters expressed concerns that the new college would jeopardize the unique strengths and identities of its constituent bodies.

Cornell’s Faculty Senate, University Assembly and Student Assembly all passed motions to table the Board of Trustee’s vote approving the College of Business, citing the administration’s lack of transparency and failure to elicit feedback before moving ahead with plans.

Many alumni also threatened to pull endowment funding if the three schools were merged, The Sun previously reported.

Provost Michael Kotlikoff has sought on numerous occasions to reassure students, alumni and University donors that future plans for the college would be based in substantial input from Cornellians past and present. He has also committed to maintaining the distinct programs present in the three schools residing in the business college.

“This effort has involved many faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and administrative leaders,” Kotlikoff said. “I am especially pleased to see the consensus developed between the schools on how we research, and more effectively engage with many of the world’s major challenges.”

Rohit Verma, the college’s deputy dean designate of external relations, added that despite many students’ worries, most aspects of the student experience will not change in the short run.

In their announcement, President Elizabeth Garrett and Kotlikoff stressed the interdisciplinary nature of the new college, predicting that it will enhance collaboration between different programs.

“For a top-tier university like Cornell, an outstanding and integrated business program … is necessary for success,” they wrote. “Students and faculty need to engage with the economy and business, as well as collaborate with other disciplines.”

Chris Barrett, deputy dean and incoming dean of academic affairs of the College of Business, said the business college will be organized by school, disciplinary areas and multidisciplinary themes, and each school will retain its tenure homes and primary academic units.

In the new college, faculty members will collaborate in research or curriculum initiatives that cut across the three schools, according to Verma.

“Right now, faculty are isolated,” Verma said. “They are focused on their own schools, but once they start integrating across in the long run you will imagine they will develop new collaborative curricula. Right now there is no formal collaboration.”

Barrett agreed with Verma, stressing the that engagement between the three schools is crucial for the business college’s success.

“The more we start to appreciate how much we have in common, the quicker we break down these natural fears that some of our colleagues hold and achieve the aspirations that most of our colleagues are seeing in this opportunity,” Barrett said.

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