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Business college will launch July 1; 'quick wins' on tap for 2016

Nelson, Walsh, Barret and Verma
Jason Koski/University Photography
At center, Chris Barrett, deputy dean and dean of academic affairs, describes the benefits of the College of Business. With him are, from left, Mark Nelson, dean of Johnson; Kate Walsh, interim dean of the School of Hotel Administration; and Rohit Verma, dean of external relations.

The Cornell College of Business will officially launch July 1, Dean Soumitra Dutta announced to alumni during Reunion festivities.

The college will make business education at Cornell better, not just bigger, Dutta said June 11 in Kennedy Hall at the talk “Cornell College of Business: Update and Next Steps.”

“Let’s be unique. Let’s be true to our strengths and not just another ‘me too’ major business school,” Dutta said. “If you combine the elements of the three schools, it’s an incredible array of assets we have. The challenge is to combine them in an effective manner, so that we’re able to project ourselves as a unique college of business that is … aligned with the core values and mission of Cornell.”

By combining faculty from the three partner schools – the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, the School of Hotel Administration and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management – the College of Business will have the third-largest business faculty in the country, behind Wharton and Harvard. And it will have the fourth-largest business school budget, behind Harvard, Wharton and the University of Chicago.

The next steps for the college’s development include establishing school budget rules by July 1, Dutta said. In the coming weeks, coordinators of the college’s seven academic areas will be named and an admissions landing webpage put in place. A branding study will launch in August. Through August and September, the college will expand career services staff and improve and integrate employer relations. Early fall will see the creation of an advisory council and a faculty policy committee, Dutta said.

Experienced administrators fill key roles
Several experienced Cornell administrators have been named to key roles at the College of Business. On the dean front, two of three slots at the partner schools have been filled: Kate Walsh was named interim dean of the School of Hotel Administration May 20, and Mark Nelson was appointed dean of Johnson June 7. And a search will begin soon for a dean of the Dyson School, said Dean Soumitra Dutta.

In addition, Laura Syer has been named the college’s associate dean of finance and human resources. Tim Durnford will take the role of associate dean of technology and infrastructure. And David Bebko has been appointed associate dean of marketing and communications. The administration is evaluating the post of associate dean of alumni affairs and development before beginning a search for candidates, Dutta said.

College leaders are aware that they risk frustrating students unless they can show them immediate gains, said Chris Barrett, deputy dean and dean of academic affairs. Therefore, advisory committees have recommended several “quick wins” that are queued up for the 2016-17 academic year.

They include an integrated admissions portal, cross-listed courses and coordinated course scheduling – enhancing students’ access a broader range of classes across the partner schools – as well as improved career services, an area in which the Dyson School needed significant investments, Barrett said. And new space will open up in midtown Manhattan and in the new, state-of-the-art Breazzano Family Center for Business Education in Collegetown.

The seven academic areas that will cut across the schools – accounting; applied economics and policy; finance; management and organizations; marketing and communication; operations, technology and information management; and strategy and business economics – will enable the college to coordinate teaching and recruit the best faculty thanks to a larger cohort of colleagues, Barrett said.

“It’s the coordination across the schools of like-minded scholars that can only enhance the quality of the curriculum for our students, enhance the opportunities for our faculty and project at a larger scale the talent that already exists at Cornell,” Barrett said.

During the Q&A session, several School of Hotel Administration alumni expressed concerns that the new college structure would dilute the school’s marquee brand and education.

Each member of the college leadership was eager to address the issue. Acknowledging the concerns, they pointed out that each school will maintain control of its curriculum, grant degrees and remain the home of their respective tenured faculty. The leaders also emphasized the many ways in which the college would enrich, not diminish, each school’s brand and academics.

“Being proud of something is great. … But we should also be willing to question if can we do it better,” said Rohit Verma, dean of external relations and Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor in Asian Hospitality Management. “Yes, we are the world’s best hotel school. I am the first one to stand on any roof and shout that. Can we be better? Definitely. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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