Business-minded Cornellians can look forward to a new campus-wide business minor next fall if a proposal by University administrators goes through as planned.
In its current form, the University’s “Business@Cornell” proposal will create a business minor available to all undergraduates with a GPA of 3.3 or higher who have taken both an introductory economics and an introductory statistics course by the end of their sophomore year, according to Ronald Seeber, vice provost for land grant affairs. The minor will first be available to students in the Class of 2015.
Joseph Thomas, dean of the Johnson Graduate School of Management, attributed the demand for a business minor to changing societal expectations about education.
“It’s a tough time economically, and students want to show that they have gone to a great liberal arts university but that they have also learned applied skills,” he said. “I think there is more interest in having a college education that allows you to go out and do something immediately after graduation — students are interested in getting a return on their education.”
To complete the minor, students will have to take at least one class each in the fields of business management, accounting, finance and marketing. The classes will be offered by the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, the School of Hotel Administration and the Johnson school.
Only 400 undergraduates per class will be allowed to enroll in the program for the first year the minor is offered.
“We do anticipate expanding,” Thomas said. “But we will start with a cap so we can see how big this thing is, and then we can expand in a planned way by adding some capacity. Eventually, if there is lots more demand, it does imply that we need to re-purpose or hire new professors — that is yet another reason to start with something we know we can manage.”
Seeber said he has been working on the proposal since last year and that he expects the Faculty Senate to approve it at its March meeting. If the proposal is approved by the Senate, Seeber will announce the University’s intention to create the minor to the Board of Trustees. The board does not, however, have the power to overturn the Senate’s ruling.
Last month, Seeber presented the Business@Cornell proposal to the Academic Programs and Policies Committee, which evaluates academic programs that span more than one college.
Prof. Thomas Cleland, psychology, who is the chair of the committee, said that the proposal left some questions unanswered.
“We had some questions about the proposal,” he said. “Who was going to run the program and what will its relationship be with the four business school entities that are collaborating to form the minor? They all have their own curriculum committees. How are these committees going to work together to create a curriculum?”
The Business@Cornell proposal will only be put to the Faculty Senate for a vote with the committee’s approval.
Deans from the four colleges involved in creating the minor are responding to the committee’s questions. Thomas, dean of the Johnson School, was tasked with responding to the committee’s concerns over how the minor will be administered.
“The deans of the four major schools involved will act as a governing committee,” he said. “The intention at the moment is that this oversight group will not cause new courses to exist — the individual colleges will do that. The committee may, however, spot a gap in the curriculum and will recommend that a new course be created.”
The new minor, if passed, will most likely be headquartered in the Dyson school, according to Prof. Loren Tauer, director of the Dyson school.
“There will be have to be an office where [the minor] is administered, and a faculty member must oversee it,” he said. “The office will probably be in the Dyson school and the faculty member that will be the director and be responsible for the coordination of courses will most likely also be in Dyson.”
The Dyson school will not, however, offer the majority of the classes that fulfill the minor’s requirements.
“Some of the classes, but not the majority of the classes, will be taught by Dyson school faculties,” Tauer said. “The Hotel School, the ILR school, the Dyson School and the Johnson School will offer classes.”
He added that the College of Human Ecology will probably not offer a course for this minor and, in the College of Arts and Sciences, the economics department will teach the statistics classes and economics classes that are required for the minor.
Seeber said he expects the minor to grow.
“I think in the longer run this will be a very popular minor, so we will need more course offerings in this area,” he said. “We would need faculty designated to teach in the minor.”
Tauer said that the administration hopes the minor will provide students with a general introduction to business.
“The thing here is not to provide students with complete knowledge of business and business related matters,” Tauer said. “Rather, it is to introduce these students to the basic fundamentals.”