May 5, 2014

Cornell to Review Business Minor Following Class of 2014 Graduation

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By SLOANE GRINSPOON

After a year since its first offering, the University plans to review the University-wide business minor, which will have its first seniors graduating later this month.

According to Prof. Deborah Streeter, Bruce F. Failing Sr. professor of personal enterprise and small business management, the University-wide business minor has grown to over 900 students since its initiation in 2012, with over 300 set to graduate this month.

The Dyson School, the Johnson School, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Hotel School constructed the minor collaboratively, according to Streeter. It is administered out of the Dyson School and offered to any student in any school.

Streeter says that with the graduation of the first set of students with the minor this month, administrators will begin to evaluate the minor in the upcoming year.

“I’ve learned a lot about business that I have never known before and I think it’s really important to have a business knowledge in the real world.” —Rachel Saltzman ’15

“We are about to embark on an evaluation process,” she said. “Up until now it wouldn’t have made sense, because no one had been through the minor.”

However, Streeter said there have been indications that the minor has been successful.

“Anecdotally, I think people are very happy with the minor, [and] there’s a lot of interest from incoming students,” she said. “We grew to over 900 [students] with a declared minor. There’s really demand there.”

President David Skorton agreed with the significance in demand and added that the minor is important because “it shows [that the University] can collaborate across colleges.”

“There are seven undergraduate colleges, and what I’ve heard from some students is that they wish it was easier to mix things from different curricula,” he said. “Some of that is obviously the rigor of the curricula — we just don’t have breathing room to do that. Some of it are administrative barriers that we are trying to make lower. However, this business minor shows that we can do such a thing.”

According to Streeter, to complete the minor students must take a class in the disciplines of management, marketing, accounting and finance. Streeter says that the minor aims to provide the students with “broad exposure,” saying that the minor allows “the students [to] become familiar with the concepts and frameworks [from the business world] that are presented.”

Prof. Rich Curtis, finance, teaches Applied Economics and Management 2240: Finance — one of the finance courses that can be taken for the completion of the finance credit in the university-wide business minor.

“My AEM 2240 course is a very challenging in-depth four-credit hour survey of topics in corporate finance, investments and personal finance,” Curtis said.

Curtis said students may find business training to be helpful, even if they do not choose to enter the fields of finance, marketing or accounting.

“Whether someone goes to law school or works in consulting, public administration, the media … or non-profits, business skills may afford a competitive advantage both in [securing] jobs and being successful on the job,” Curtis said.

Though some students say the minor covers everything needed for a well-rounded business education, Erin Gross ’17 said she would like to see more specific minors in the future.

“I’m interested in consumer psychology and am essentially doing the minor for the marketing and management coursework, but still have to take finance and accounting,” Gross said.

However, according to Streeter, Dyson offers a business minor for engineering and a business minor for life sciences, each with its own “special track.”

Other students expressed a positive experience with the minor.

“I feel like it is designed in a way such that students get a basic understanding of the major elements and concepts in business,” Aradhita Gupta ’15 said. “The classes I took were very hands-on and extremely useful. I think the minor is useful especially for people whose majors provide no exposure to business and the related way of thinking.”

Gupta said she believes the only area in which the minor can improve is in explaining the differences different between the various courses that could be used to fulfill the same requirement.

“I think there is a huge difference between taking the same course in different departments and it might be helpful to have that information available when making a choice,” Gupta said.

Rachel Saltzman ’15 also said her experience in the business minor has overall been positive.

“I think the classes are helpful,” Saltzman said. “I’ve learned a lot about business that I have never known before and I think it’s really important to have a business knowledge in the real world.”

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