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February 5, 2016

After Negotiations, John Dyson ’65 Approves of Business College

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“We have agreed to and signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Provost and the dean of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences,” John Dyson ’65 said in a Saturday address to the Board of Trustees.

The MOU will allow the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management to be a part of both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the recently approved College of Business, according to Dyson.

“The CALS dean will be involved with all major decisions, and in case of disagreement with the [College of Business] dean, issues will be resolved by the Provost,” Dyson said. “[It is] truly a shared school with a balanced mission between business and its traditional agricultural and NYS Land Grant missions.”

Approved by the Board of Trustees Saturday, the College of Business will merge the Dyson School, the School of Hotel Administration, and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Dyson addressed the Board of Trustees prior to their Saturday vote, explaining his concerns about the proposed College of Business and recounting his talks with Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Dean of CALS Kathryn Boor ’80.

Kotlikoff and Boor spoke with Dyson and his brother Peter Dyson continuously to work out details regarding the management and coordination of the Dyson School and the College of Business, according to John Dyson.

“Once I started discussions with the provost directly, I was sure we could arrive at an agreement,” John Dyson said. “He is a man of intelligence, honor and sincerity. We are very lucky to have him in this position.”

Discussions with Kotlikoff and Boor resolved John and Peter Dyson’s major concerns — CALS students in the Dyson school who are New York State residents will still pay in-state tuition, according to Dyson. In addition, the school’s faculty members and their tenured positions will remain in CALS.

“Peter and I are now reassured that the intentions of the administration under the proposal for the Dyson School and for CALS itself are to build upon their renowned excellence and to strengthen the Dyson School even further,” John Dyson told the Board of Trustees.

John Dyson was originally opposed to the College of Business after the University’s announcement on Dec. 14. Many students, faculty and alumni said they thought the administration lacked transparency and discussion with the Cornell community, and several alumni threatened to pull endowment funding if the College of Business was approved.

“A special committee could have been tasked with this consultation and careful study by the Board before recommending the amendment to the By-Laws,” John Dyson wrote in a letter to Board Trustee Leland Pillsbury ’69, prior to the Saturday vote and his speech.

This merger is not the only change the Dyson School has seen in the last five years. In 2010, the Department of Agricultural Economics was renamed after Charles H. Dyson — John and Peter Dyson’s father — following his family’s donation to the school.

“It was hard not to feel betrayed by a new plan altering an agreement made with me and my brother Peter only five years ago,” Dyson said in his address.

Dyson promised that he and his family will remain involved with the College of Business in the future.

“The Dysons do not just go away,” Dyson said. “I will be involved as much as the Dean of CALS needs me and will continue to help with funding needs. This agreement allows me to continue my 40 years as a trustee with confidence in the future.”

12 thoughts on “After Negotiations, John Dyson ’65 Approves of Business College

  1. Nice they reached an agreement, but all of this is beyond confusing. Dyson is now part of CALS and the College of Business. I thought it was difficult to explain the Cornell system to outsiders before, but now it’s going to be an exercise of fortitude.

    • Abe and others need to stop being so apocalyptic about this. This is not the first case of cross-college ownership of a department or school. EAS is split between CALS and Engineering, BEE is officially under CALS but is highly linked to and culturally a part of Engineering. Undergraduate Biology is split between CALS and A&S. CIS is basically a functional model for what the College of Business could look like, but doesn’t need to be called a college.

      If you can’t see the benefit of having faculty shared between Dyson’s/AEM’s developmental economics and Johnson’s SGE programs or between retail in JGSM and hospitality in the Hotel School, you really need to evaluate why you chose Cornell. I understand there may be some problems associated with such a transition, but there are some good opportunities here.

      • Actually, why are all of those programs structured so oddly? What are the tangible, concrete benefits? EAS should be CALS only or perhaps A&S only. It has zero engineering content. BEE should be engineering only. It’s 100% engineering, not science content. CIS should just be like CS where it’s in ENG but students can be from A&S. To me, these things are all the way that they are due to departmental politics and creating loopholes such as being in CALS to get cheaper tuition and then switching to ENG halfway through with zero changes in the curriculum plan for BEE or being able to stay in ENG after failing to meet any real engineering major affiliation requirements, you can do EAS without throwing away the first two years, even though it’s definitely not engineering.

        • CIS also has Information Science, which is a program that started in CALS and is not part of engineering (though engineering students can major in it). The purpose of CIS was to bring together similar departments from completely different schools (engineering and CALS) under a single umbrella. Which is exactly what is proposed here.

      • I think you have articulated why so many are against or concerned with this proposal. What is the benefit of shared faculty that could not have been achieved without the CoB? Is there something that precludes a professor from teaching in both colleges? If so, why wasn’t that resolved specifically?

        We all know that the communication of this effort was completely bungled and that will remain a driver of some dissent with the decision. I’m personally open-minded to the idea, but question the need to rush the decision and implementation and do so in such a way that is not truly inclusive (note: 7 committees with nebulous responsibilities is not inclusion).

        Time will tell if this is a sound strategy, but for now it has hurt the connection many alums have for Cornell and that is truly unfortunate.

  2. If this is such a great idea, it could be presented in one short, simple sentence. That it takes multiple paragraphs, letters and statements tells you just how muddled the thinking is behind it. Or opaque and obfuscatory the motivation.

  3. The faculty, students, staff and their representatives did not vote to prevent a business College. We just wanted to talk it over for a a couple months to make sure it didn’t turn into the wasteful boondoggle it has become.

    All of the benefits claimed from this fiasco of a college could have been gained by having the deans/directors of the three schools meet regularly to coordinate classes and fund-raising. Each of the three leaders could have taken turns being the “Dean of Business” for a year and used some new stationary, a good webpage, social media and a few support staff to tell everyone that these fine schools are now working together. All for a couple hundred thousand per year.

    Instead, the President has created 3 (and counting) “brass-plate” Dean/Associate Dean positions, on top of the three deans that still will be retained to actually run the three schools. All those deans will not be working for free and will no doubt command salaries in the 400,000+ range each plus more in benefits, cars, drivers, support staffs, travel budgets, deferred compensation, and other blandishments or perks. What will we be getting for what will total several million dollars per year? No more teaching faculty or smaller classes! In fact, Dyson will be forced to enroll MORE students. We will see higher tuition, more money shifted from teaching and research support in the part of Cornell that actually educates and discovers things to an insatiable central administration that does nothing of the sort. The faculties of the three schools involved could have used all of that money to increase the number of people actually involved in teaching. The cost of paying, supporting and rewarding a business school dean could cover several faculty members.

    We have been told for a couple decades that we are in constant financial crises. Facilities and programs are being shut down in the lively arts, in agriculture, all over campus. This financial crisis has caused the shut down of the swine barn, the beef barn, and the sheep barn. A business school deans’s salary could have saved all of these, field biology resources and facilities are going, too. Teaching positions in production agriculture and other aspects of Cornell central function as New York’s Land Grant university have been severely degraded as well.

    A conservative estimate of the early costs of this new college would have to run 4-5 million dollars per year. And that is not counting the increased diversion of State support funds and resources. If those funds were used instead for tuition relief, you would be paying hundreds less. And if such funds were used to support the dramatic arts, agriculture and field work, some of the lost stature of various colleges might be restored.

  4. Well said. I imagine that the hope is that this combination will provide lucrative new revenues in executive education programs, and joint “diplomas” where executives can participate in weekend, multiple week or NYC part time programs that include certifications and seals of Johnson, Dyson and SHA. These types of multiple accreditations are being marketed with great success by other universities with prestigious names.

  5. The biggest concern I have is the selection of Dutta (current Johnson Dean) to be the super dean of the college.. How is someone who never served as a dean until he came to Cornell 3 years ago qualify to hold this supreme position? How is someone who failed to improve Johnson’s ranking and its financial situation going to oversee the combined school? Look at how Yale’s School of Management which historically trailed Cornell in rankings recently not only surpassed Cornell but is now considered one of top 10 business schools primarily by hiring a reputable and high profile dean.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Dean Dutta, the current Johnson Dean, has done a horrible job running Johnson and now he’s rewarded by this super Dean position? How does that make any sense? Johnson a few years ago was a top 10 program, not it’s not even a top 15 program, applications are down 30% over the past 2 yrs and MBA student satisfaction is at an all time low as Johnson degrees are pumped out at various ‘partner’ schools….Agreed! Yale SOM did a brilliant job in moving up in the rankings by bringing in an experienced Dean, Cornell just entrusted 2 of it’s top programs (Dyson / Hotel) to a person who hasn’t done much for Johnson. Look out below Dyson / Hotel students and alums, your ranks are about to drop hard…..

  6. I am a Cornell alumna who graduated some 40 years ago. What Cornell needs to worry about is it’s ranking, which just keeps dropping. Because of that drop in ratings we no longer attract the very best students from the best high schools. Having more “state schools” and more confusing structures will just add to the chaos and turn away top students, which will erode our rating further. Yes, ratings do matter, unfortunately. When my son, a top student from a top high school, decided to go to Cornell last year, many of his classmates said “you could have done better.” When I was accepted to Cornell, students turned down offers from Cornell to go to Harvard, Yale, Princeton. or Columbia. Now they turn us down to go to University of Pennsylvania, Duke, University of Chicago, Dartmouth, Brown and even John Hopkins. These were all second tier schools in my day. Cornell is also now known as exclusively a science and math school. Maybe we are adding business to the pile, but what about the rest — humanities. Every single student I have interviewed in the past 3-4 years for admission to Cornell is a prospective science major. When I ask the “why Cornell” question, invariably they tell me because Cornell is a science and math school. What are we doing to promote the rest of our superb education. Let’s focus on that, instead of just juggling the internal beans.

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