Hotel School, Peking University green-lighted to launch dual-degree program

Seeking to strengthen global academic connections across political and cultural differences, Cornell has announced its approval for an international dual-degree program between the School of Hotel Administration, in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and China’s Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.

The program, advanced by the Hotel School faculty, was approved by Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff. It was then presented to the Cornell Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic Affairs on May 28.

“I appreciate the careful discussion that this program has provoked. Cornell has a long history of working with academic partners around the world,” Kotlikoff said. “These collaborations are vital to our mission of teaching, discovery and engagement, and we encourage responsible collaborations even in countries with which we might have fundamental disagreements.

“The knowledge-sharing and real-world solutions that these relationships produce benefit the citizens of our partner countries” he said, “and in the long run contribute to the betterment of our shared global community.”

The new program – a part-time program designed for executive professionals residing in China – received approval from the Graduate Committee of the Graduate School;  the Committee for Academic Programs and Policies in the Faculty Senate; and the International Council.

The program is currently awaiting final review by the New York State Education Department.

The program will follow Cornell’s Guidelines on Ethical International Engagement, developed to help faculty members collaborate with research partners in areas of the world where certain forms of speech and expression may be prohibited or limited, while still protecting academic freedom.

“Our view is that the university’s role is to create bridges across what might be considerable cultural or political difference,” said Wendy Wolford, vice provost for international affairs (VPIA). “The production and dissemination of knowledge – in this case, with two of the world’s strongest and most active global players – is a good thing.”

Wolford said the administration appreciates the input it has received from faculty and students, some of whom are concerned about China’s poor human rights record. “We understand that these are complicated times, and important questions,” she said.

“The university doesn’t create dual degree programs lightly,” she said. “The vetting process has been very extensive. We care deeply about academic freedom and academic integrity, and building these relationships in ways that are very positive.”

Cornell and China have partnered academically for more than a century; Cornell currently carries out 23 collaborations with Chinese institutions – including two dual degree programs (bachelor’s in food science; MBA in finance) and one consortium-based dual master’s program – and hosts more than 200 scholars from China who teach and conduct research on the Ithaca campus.

As in all of its partnerships with other universities, Cornell will maintain program quality and tight control over the program’s educational outcomes. Andrew Karolyi, dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, said the plan is for joint oversight of the program – by the VPIA or designee, and an equivalent administrator at Peking University – in order to ensure academic integrity.

Participants in the new program would earn a master of management in hospitality (MMH) degree from the Hotel School, and an MBA from the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.

“The Hotel School is the global thought leader, studying the pressing issues and educating tomorrow’s leaders in the hospitality, real estate and service industries,” said Karolyi, also the college’s dean of academic affairs. “Many universities seek to form partnerships with us, and the Hotel School was waiting for, and judiciously seeking, the right partner for some time, a university that is premier in its own right. And Peking University was that partner.”

The plan calls for the two-year, 48-credit program to be taught jointly by faculty at the two schools.Faculty at the Guanghua School will teach the MBA core courses; Hotel School faculty will provide the specialized hospitality management core – in areas such as real estate, service operations, analytics and human resource management.

“Our faculty are excited to partner with the Peking University faculty to deliver an exceptional program and expand the school’s global presence,” said Kate Walsh, dean of the Hotel School.

The residential sessions for the MMH portion of the program likely will be taught in Ithaca, but the program has the flexibility to allow for those courses to potentially be taught in other locations, including New York City.

Karolyi expects the program to be especially appealing to mid- to senior-level executives in the hospitality and service industries. The expected average age will be in the low 30s, with typical work experience seven to eight years; a majority of students will have undergraduate or graduate degrees from outside China, he said, and they will be fluent in both Chinese and English.

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Rebecca Valli