Detailed plans for the structure of the Cornell College of Business — approved in January by the Board of Trustees — will focus on improving faculty collaboration and research and have minimal immediate effect on students, according to Rohit Verma, the college’s deputy dean designate of external relations.
The college’s structure was determined by seven committees representing faculty, students, alumni and staff, with the goal of ensuring “the structural and academic decisions that will define the new College of Business are as broadly informed as possible,” according to the University.
While the new college’s dean and deputy deans will administrate the three schools merged in the College of Business — the School of Hotel Administration, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Management — the schools’ identities will remain largely the same, according to Verma.
“When the Board of Trustees approved the college, they told us that we have two guidances,” Verma said. “First is that the new college should preserve the identity of each school and make them better, and second was that we have to integrate across the three schools so that they can all take advantage of each other’s strengths.”
Verma said that despite many students’ concerns, most aspects of the student experience will not change in the short run, and the college will mainly focus on improving inefficiencies associated with having business faculty spread across three schools.
“Those are things like the duplication of when we try to hire faculty,” Verma said. “We compete with each other and oftentimes we may not be able to hire the best faculty.”
The most immediate effect of the merger will be increased collaboration among faculty between the three schools, according to Verma.
“Right now faculty are isolated,” he said. “They are focused on their own schools, but once they start integrating across in the long run you will imagine they will develop new collaborative curricula. Right now there is no formal collaboration.”
In the new college, faculty members will collaborate through area coordinators who help arrange initiatives from research to developing curriculum in areas that cut across the three schools, according to Verma.
Verma added that faculty will be able to choose primary and secondary areas of study they want to associate with.
“This is clearly a faculty-driven effort,” he said.
However, concern about how the College of Business was created lingers among some Cornellians.
Richard Walroth grad, chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, said he believes the college was not properly vetted through shared governance before its announcement.
“Past that first step, the process does seem fairly inclusive,” Walroth said. “Many students remain displeased at the initial decision. However, this is more out of concern for the potential precedent this has set for other potential decisions to be made down the road.”
Gabriel Kaufman ’18, undesignated at large representative on the Student Assembly, expressed lingering concerns about the effects of the college on students and staff.
“I think that it is one thing to decide to merge the schools, but it is another when students and faculty start to see their daily lives affected,” Kaufman said. “This merger might change what classes are offered and by which professors.”
However, Nelson Billington ’19, a member of the undergraduate committee and S.A. SHA representative, said he believes his committee and others have succeeded in creating a viable college from the idea approved by the Board of Trustees.
“Provost Kotlikoff and his senior administrative team have done a fast and efficient job of filling the empty vessel to maintain the strengths of many core classes, encourage cross college collaborations and better define business education at Cornell,” Billington said. “Withholding support for the College of Business at this critical juncture will not help students, faculty and staff preparing for the implementation of this plan.”