September 17, 2013

Cornell-Wide Business Minor Concerns AEM Majors

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Applied economics and management majors are expressing concerns that the new University-wide business minor may strain resources and hamper course enrollment in their department.

The business minor, which launched Spring 2013, currently enrolls 660 students. Some students in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management lamented that the influx of business minors has diluted the school’s culture by making AEM too accessible to other students.

Peter Galbo ’14, an AEM major, said he is worried that the inclusion of students who do not share a strong passion for business might harm the Dyson school’s national reputation.

“AEM is a very competitive and attractive brand for Cornell that draws a lot of people in because it is a well-ranked program,” Galbo said. “If, in the future, the major itself becomes less competitive or internally loses some of its value due to the minor and this dilution concept, then it has the potential to decrease AEM’s ability to draw students in from high schools.”

Galbo added that the opportunity for students outside of AEM to minor in business creates a more competitive pool for postgraduate positions. A more competitive recruitment climate may be a threat to AEM majors and weaken Dyson’s eminent reputation for job placement, he said.

Other AEM majors, like Aaron Weinstein ’16, are concerned that the creation of the business minor has changed classroom dynamics for AEM majors.

“I feel a strong attachment towards AEM, and when people talk about the program, I feel a sense of pride. You don’t get those same emotions when you’re a [business] minor … If you major in something else, you feel a stronger sense of attachment to that other major,” he said.

Other students fear that the business minor will make class enrollment for prospective transfers significantly more stressful.

“A lot of my friends who needed to take intro-level classes to declare their majors in AEM had to delay their transfer applications because enrollment preferences went to business minors,” Amanda Henick ’16 said.

According to Prof. Deborah Streeter, applied economics and management, the recent challenges during class enrollment are only temporary and will dissipate within the next few years.

For instance, when the business minor was announced, upperclassmen who had limited time to fulfill the requirements for the business minor rushed into introductory-level classes, causing an increase in enrollment for introductory business classes. The spike in demand will soon calm and reach a steady level once the business minor becomes more established, she said.

According to Streeter, there are classes available in the School of Industrial Relations, the School of Hotel Administration and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management that fulfill the same requirements that introductory classes in the Dyson school. These classes, however, are in much lower demand from students, she said.

Despite the higher demand from students for introductory-level AEM classes, the Dyson school needs to keep enrollment caps in a place where professors can continue teach at a high quality, she said.

“This is a collaboration that is unusual at Cornell: that we can put these four colleges together, reach an agreement on a minor and support it together,” Streeter said. “I think it’s a great first step.”

Other Cornellians expressed optimism about the fate of both the Dyson school and the new business minor.

Nicole Rosario ’16, an ILR major who plans to declare her business minor this school year, said she does not believe the existence of the business minor will lead to a loss of prestige on behalf of the Dyson School.

“If anything, [the minor] is broadening opportunities for other students who aren’t 100 percent interested in business and want to try it out,” she said. “It’s not fair for one very small undergraduate school to remain so exclusive.”