Management sciences discussion focuses on long term

Ron Seeber
Robert Barker/University Photography
Ron Seeber, vice provost for land grant affairs, discusses the goals of the management sciences task force reports, Dec. 2 in G10 Biotechnology Building.
Alexander Colvin
Robert Barker/University Photography
Alexander Colvin, associate professor of collective bargaining, labor law and habor history in the ILR School, poses a question during the Dec. 2 discussion.

"What do we want to be like 10, or really 20, years from now?" asked Provost Kent Fuchs at a public discussion on management sciences Dec. 2 in the Biotechnology Building. "We are going to evolve. Can we do something in the midst of all these other changes that will put us where we want to be?"

The forum was the fourth of six public discussions that Fuchs is hosting to get feedback on the academic strategic plan task force reports that affect the university as a whole. Both he and task force chair Ron Seeber, vice provost for land grant affairs, noted that the management sciences report differs from other task force reports in that its focus is largely conceptual.

The task force was driven not by budget considerations, said Seeber, but by generating options for improving research and education in management sciences at Cornell. "Change of any magnitude is years down the road," said Seeber.

To do that, the task force, which included representatives from business oriented departments across the university, explored possibilities for structural changes, increasing teaching and research efficiencies and enhancing revenue.

Options for structural changes ranged from creating a school of management -- the most radical suggestion -- to combining portions of the programs in a public policy unit and creating a division of undergraduate business management. The least controversial option was to charge the deans of the degree-granting programs with developing a strategic plan for management education at Cornell.

The task force considered such efficiencies as a budget model to level transfer pricing between colleges, removing barriers to students who want to take classes across colleges, eliminating some electives to shift teaching resources to core undergraduate courses, cross-listing courses to meet degree requirements in more than one program and facilitating cross-college scheduling and teaching. The report also stated that holding larger classes and developing additional professional master's degree and executive education programs would enhance revenues.

Audience members commented on the different tenors of the task force reports reviewed so far, the relationship of the task force reports to the university's strategic planning process, and Seeber and Fuchs' next steps with the reports and feedback.

David Lipsky, Anne Evans Estabrook Professor of Dispute Resolution and Collective Bargaining, asked whether creating a school of management was realistic and feasible. Fuchs replied that he will continue to review the feedback from the 20 task forces in the next few days and present his assessments before the winter holidays.

"My rule No. 1 is not to break something that works," he said. The challenge is, "how can we make management sciences stronger today and in the future, and how do we do it in an era of constrained resources?"

Task force summaries are online at The full reports are available for review in the Office of the Dean of Faculty and the Office of the Assemblies.

For more information, visit the strategic planning Web site at


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