November 3, 2000

CALS Business Program Takes New Title

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Faculty in the Department of Agricultural Resource, and Managerial Economics agreed yesterday to discard their department’s familiar acronym, ARME, and adopt a new departmental title, Department of Applied Economics and Management (AEM).

This decision, seven years in the making, is a response to feelings that the previous name did not accurately convey the prevailing focus on applied economics within the department, according to Prof. Andrew Novakovic, E.V. Baker Professor of Agricultural Economics and chair of AEM.

“Since the 1970s, we had been running a general undergraduate business degree program that had nothing to do with traditional agriculture,” Novakovic said. After some initial efforts to tweak the title, “The Department of Agricultural Economics,” in 1993, faculty members agreed upon the ARME designation.

But the title of “ARME” still failed to reflect on the essence of the major, said Prof. James Hagen, ARME. The change is also consistent with other such departments in the country that have adopted new names “to keep up with the times,” Hagen said.

Prof. Ed McLaughlin, marketing, explained that the new title of AEM “more accurately describes who we are as a department and the particular programs of study that we offer [which are] a series of courses in applied economics and management.”

Currently the program is undergoing a three-year process of attaining accreditation. AACSB: The International Association for Management Education — which began reviewing the AEM program in the spring of 1998 — has issued “very positive reviews, but with the understanding that the name [ARME] was a barrier to understanding the breadth of our programs. One doesn’t expect a business program in a department where the first word is ‘agriculture’,” Novakovic said.

This feedback from AACSB has increased, but did not create, support for the name change. “The review panel stated that although we had one of the top five business programs in the country, we should more clearly identify the department name as a program offering a general management degree program, as opposed to the somewhat confusing, even misleading name of ARME,” McLaughlin explained, adding that the accreditation feedback “accelerated” the name revision process.

Of the total 700 students in the AEM major, 80 to 90 percent opt to specialize in either business or food industry management, a related field. But despite these trends, McLaughlin stressed that the major will still offer courses in the agricultural and resource areas.

Hagen also emphasized that “the agricultural portion is not going away. It’s part of our strength and it evolved in an applied economics environment … by the name change we are announcing to the world that we are teaching business and that we are open for accreditation,” he said.

In the near future, Novakovic and others hope to implement plans to expand the major. The name change is “a sign of things to come,” Novakovic said.

The department hopes to add new faculty, in part to lower the high faculty-to-student ratio within AEM, but also to respond to concerns from the accreditation committee.

“The committee thought we needed more resources and staff support for our teaching effort. They were concerned that we were doing a lot with few faculty, and they seemed to question how the faculty could pull it off without getting burned out,” according to Hagen. But he stressed that the committee did not feel the strains placed on AEM faculty compromised the quality of education they provide.

Carl Torrillo ’01, an AEM major, expressed his enthusiasm for the name change. “I think it will be an advantage for graduates. I’ve been interviewing [for jobs] and I’ve been asked why agriculture is part of the title. I think it will improve the image of the business program at Cornell on the whole,” Torrillo said.

Archived article by Ken Meyer