Sage Hall is home to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, one of the three schools that will become part of the new College of Business.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Senior Photographer

Sage Hall is home to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, one of the three schools that will become part of the new College of Business.

January 30, 2016

Board of Trustees Authorizes College of Business

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Cornell’s Board of Trustees authorized plans for the proposed College of Business Saturday morning, President Elizabeth Garrett and Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced in an email.

The College of Business will merge the School of Hotel Administration, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Garrett and Kotlikoff called the approval of the controversial new school “the beginning of an inclusive and crucial process that will more fully define the details of how the College of Business will be structured.”

“The plan for the new college will be developed with broad input from faculty, students, staff and alumni,” they wrote. “We wish to underscore our commitment to making this process inclusive and open for all … your input will be critical to its success.”

In the email, the two administrators also revealed new information about the structure and implementation of the newly approved business school.

The College of Business is expected to open in the 2016-17 academic year and will be composed on 145 research faculty and almost 2,900 undergraduate, professional and graduate students, according to the email.

Garrett and Kotlikoff stressed the interdisciplinary nature of the new college, writing that they predict it will enhance collaboration between different programs.

“For a top-tier university like Cornell, an outstanding and integrated business program … is necessary for success,” they wrote. “Students and faculty need to engage with the economy and business, as well as collaborate with other disciplines.”

The administrators also sought to reassure Cornellians that each of the three merged schools would retain its own “identity and mission” within the College of Business.

“The unique nature of our accredited business schools is among the primary factors that will distinguish the College of Business from its peers,” Garrett and Kotlikoff wrote.

Each of the schools will be governed by a dean who will be responsible for the academic curriculum and admissions of  that school, according to the email.

Garrett and Katlikoff also noted their “regret” about the concerns voiced in recent weeks by Cornell’s students, faculty and alumni, who they said were “understandably upset” about the announcement.

Cornell’s Faculty Senate, University Assembly and Student Assembly had all passed motions to table the Board of Trustee’s vote on the plans for the College of Business, citing the administration’s lack of transparency and failure to illicit feedback before moving ahead with plans.

Many alumni have also threatened to pull endowment funding if the three schools were merged, The Sun previously reported.

In their email, Garrett and Kotlikoff conceded that the new school was announced without “a comprehensive discussion with all Cornell stakeholders and faculty.”

The administrators said, after hearing from many unhappy alumni, they have committed to work more closely with the alumni community as they move forward on the College of Business project.

Garrett and Kotlikoff expressed their hope that the new college would encourage and enable collaboration between programs in areas including globalization, technology and finance. They added that the College of Business will promote faculty interdisciplinary research efforts and bolster Cornell’s global initiatives.

There will be an informational session Tuesday to field concerns and questions from students and a town hall forum to address Cornell’s faculty and staff on Wednesday, according to the email.

“We will provide regular updates to the community on our progress toward our shared goals for the College,” the administrators stated.

18 thoughts on “Board of Trustees Authorizes College of Business

  1. Ok, so let me get this straight…Cornell University, which will not stop talking about how important it is to hire new faculty, raise money from alums, and recruit and yield top students, is plowing full-speed ahead with the Ready, Fire, Aim approach of creating a “new school.” It is doing so despite overwhelming evidence that this 1) will infuriate current faculty and send a terrible message to prospective faculty about how little administrators and Trustees care about shared governance, 2) sends a terrible message to alumni about whether their opinions, money, or memories of Cornell matter, and 3) will either eliminate the unique brands of multiple programs, or simply make the overall structure of the university even more confusing than it is already

    Perhaps the bigger problem is that we really don’t know who to blame for this endless string of poor, dictatorial, insulting decisions. Is this the work of some Trustees, who sought out a President and Provost to lay the hammer down and force changes before quickly moving on to warmer pastures? Could this really all be President Garrett, who kicked off the year with a mind-bogglingly bad email about the need to find efficiencies, all before she had spent even one semester looking at the enormous amount of money wasted on the ever-growing team of poorly-appointed and accountability-free administrators that continue to plague and bankrupt Cornell.

    Obviously, some students and alumni will continue to weigh in. Sadly, staff, who have been and will likely continue to be used or discarded to make sure we can afford our administrator’s financial and managerial mistakes, will remain quiet. This means it is up to the faculty to take advantage of their tenure and speak up for the university, its future, and the many people who would love to share their concerns, but who fear that doing so will only frustrate the Cornell leaders that have already shown contempt for what they and so many others have to say.

    • As much as I want student and alumni opinions to matter, they never will. Alumni will continue to donate, and none but the most powerful donors can gather enough influence to bend the university’s decision-making. Students, meanwhile, are an utterly replaceable commodity: college seniors admitted to an Ivy don’t worry about internal politics, and the administration has made it very clear that their view of current student concerns is “transfer, we dare you”.

      As you say, faculty are the only ones capable of calling this string of bad decisions to heel. Cornell administrators are raising tuition steadily, but using it to fund new mistakes instead of expanding hiring and already-successful programs. There’s no evidence that good decisions will be prioritized until this are truly desperate.

  2. As a ’75 A&S grad, I can’t say I’m an expert on either the Johnson Business School, Hotel School or the Dyson School of Applied Economics.

    I DO know however of the international renown and top ranking of the Hotel School and consistently high rankings of the others. With a new President in place, acknowledged lack of dialog with key stakeholders to date, and open resistance from key groups as knowledgeable alumni, this move strikes me as odd at best, damaging at worst to either goodwill or performance.

    Having 3 Deans under . . ??? to-be-specified “super-Dean?” or even worse “council” of some sort without a clear rationale for the move (still re-reading announcements and remain extremely vague in my view) doesn’t seem like a wise leadership or management action, particularly early in a transition. Without sharing the “burning platform” with stakeholders – what’s the rationale for the merger?

    Let’s hope Trustees are forthcoming beyond this crisply worded Saturday afternoon release.

    Just “two cents” from an “AB informed by real world experience”.

  3. it would be wise although somewhat late now to include alumni in discussions who last year helped the school rank fifth in alumni donations totaling 590 million in the US. Furthermore the largest benefactor in Cornell history is a hotelie who gave 350 million just for NY TECH. Progress is important however communication to loyal alumni as important. Engagement via a communique through a web site would have been appropriate. It seems a lack of respect in the way the alumni were informed.

  4. it would be wise although somewhat late now to include alumni in discussions who last year helped the school rank fifth in alumni donations totaling 590 million in the US. Furthermore the largest benefactor in Cornell history is a hotelie who gave 350 million just for NY TECH. Progress is important however communication to loyal alumni is important. Engagement via a communique through a web site would have been appropriate. It seems a lack of respect in the way the alumni were informed.

  5. While interesting in theory, in practice this new ‘college of business’ will end up dragging down Cornell’s well-regarded Dyson and Hotel School to the mediocre level of Johnson. It is no secret that the weakest school in this threesome is Johnson, in terms of ranking, reputation, alumni support, and general regard on and beyond campus. Even if this combo in theory sounds like a great idea, why have Dean Dutta of Johnson run the entire college?

    I would support this idea if the new dean of the college was a capable visionary, but sadly he is not. This is a dean who oversaw 1) a plunge in MBA applications, 2) rankings drop from top 10 to top 20, 3) a surge in the school’s acceptance %, 4) a plunge in student satisfaction and 4) general unhappiness with the school’s brand as Johnson now offers multiple MBAs across the world (HUGE brand dilution).

    As a recent Johnson alum who has a many Hotelie friends and realize that the school’s network is beyond impressive, I feel bad of what is to come of the Hotel School and Dyson.

    • Presumably, the goal is to shore up Johnson’s wavering prestige with a bunch of news stories about the “College of Business” and Cornell’s “forward-thinking administration”. Unfortunately, with Johnson’s Dean Dutta raised up to share his errors with two more schools, it will be a short-term bump followed by a steady decline for all three entities.

  6. From a non-Hotelie: what would have made the most sense is combining Dyson and Johnson to form a Wharton-esque type structure. Including the Hotel School makes absolutely zero sense.

  7. What’s most astounding about this is that Cornell seems to be doing the same sort of thing that (along with racial insensitivity) got neighbor IC’s president in trouble–decisions by fiat without allowing input. And the lame attempt to cut off criticism by saying that NOW (after the decision is made) they’ll accept input is a new low.

    Watch yourself, administration. The tolerance for this type of stuff is at a new low nationwide. The next wise step would be to admin mea culpa, back up, and start over the right way. Not that there’s any hope of that happening, of course.

  8. This statement is exhibit A that Garrett and the Trustees take all of us for fools: “each of the three merged schools would retain its own ‘identity and mission’ within the College of Business.”

    Then why merge them? What’s the point?

  9. Everything about this process has been disingenuous. Tell Deans to keep mum at Thanksgiving, inform some in the community during finals when 1/2 the campus has left for winter break, and take it straight for Trustee vote. I thought this was Ivy League. These actions do not make us a top university in the entire world. Their communication following the trustee vote acknowledges many were upset and they’re committed to addressing concerns going forward. They could have acknowledged this when it first appeared in Dec. But they waited until the trustee vote to acknowledge this. And the Cornell way is to state it will happen and let staff and faculty work out all the details. Pres. Garrett, how is this efficient?

  10. How smart is a president of an Ivy League University who says this: “Ours is an exciting but challenging world, where students and faculty need to engage with the economy and business, as well as collaborate with other disciplines, in academically rigorous ways that enrich our educational programs.” How does one engage with the economy? What a weak statement. We should expect more from the president of Cornell University.

  11. Is that all this is? Presidents and provosts are supposed to be smart, intelligent folk. With so many “whys” and “hows” buzzing the grapevine, is there any wisdom in this current administration?

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  13. There have been few actions by the Cornell Administration and Trusteess over the years that have bothered me ,but this decision, done behind the back of students and Alumni creating a College of Business and forcing the Hotel School to be part of it, makes me angry and mad. It appears the Administration strategically announced the plans right after exams before Christmas and then with little notification voted and passed the action this past weekend. I don’t have millionsto to donate to Cornell and my comments may never be read by any Trustee or member of the Administration, but I am not alone with the anger and disgust I currently feel. I work for a corporation that has over 150 companies, each doing their own thing , but together band together working towards one goal of having the best possible corporation possible. Where there are areas for overall management such as security, IT, communications, HR, financial management, vendor management, facility management, contracting , etc. these are centrally managed. Often time collaboration is needed between some of the companies so this is handled as needed with no problems. Likewise students today can elect to take couses in other areas within the University. There is no reason that Professors cannot work together to stengthen their courses to accommodate the needs and desires of the students from any College/School within the University. Cornell does not need to establish a College of Business to make this happen. It is all about communication. Most administrators have no real world experience other than the academic world, thus they work with blinders on, believing that their education justifies their decisions. One of the elements of Cornell that I enjoyed and to this day feel is extremely important is the independence the Hotel School had from the rest of the University. This made the Hotel School unique and the best Hotel School in the world. Sure the Cornell Provost has stated the independence of the Hotel School will not change. Believe me, it will change and for the worse. I know from personal experience having earned my MBA degree from Michigan State University where the Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) School was part of the College of Business that this does not work. In 1983/84 time frame it was discovered that the Dean of the College of Business had redirected outside donations and internal funding from the HRIM School to that of other Schools within the College of Business since the other Schools were having trouble raising funds. Additionally the Dean of the College of Business had significant power over the Head of the Hotel School regarding all aspects of the HRIM program. The program at Michigan State could have been tremendous, had it not been for the College of Business micromanaging the HRIM program. I would have hoped that an in depth study would have been completed to see what other Unioversities had done and what worked, what did not work and why. Obviously this was not done at Cornell. I am all for change when it is fully justified, but have yet to see anyone explain in detail why including the Hotel School in the College of Business really makes sense. All the reasons presented so far have too many holes in them. I urge all Hotel School alumni to make their concerns known to the Board of Trustees and the Administration. Don’t accept that this is a done deal. If enough people raise their voices, things can change. The decision is not in granite, unless we let the issue die. For the sake of the Hotel School and its future, make your concerns heard.

  14. Elicit, not illicit. The move certainly is illicit, but it did not “fail to illicit feedback”. That’s simply the wrong word, and it’s a grammar-school mistake that shouldn’t appear here.

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