October 18, 2001

CALS Business Program Seeks Accreditation

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This winter, the newest development in the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) will be the much anticipated accreditation of the Undergraduate Business Program in the Applied Economics and Management (AEM) Department.

Should the accreditation panel for the American Assembly for Collegiate Schools of Business-International (AACSB) vote in favor of the proposal when they vote on Jan. 7 and 8; Cornell would become the second Ivy League school to offer an accredited business degree to undergraduates.

“We have passed most of the hurdles,” said Susan Henry, the Ronald P. Lynch dean of CALS. “[The program is] ninety-nine percent there, and we will hopefully get the green light this winter.”

The effort to achieve accreditation has been underway for three years, according to Prof. Edward McLaughlin, applied economics and management and associate chair for the business program.

“One hundred years ago, this department started out as the department of agriculture economics,” said McLaughlin. “It has evolved away from the economics of farming and agriculture to focusing on applied economics in any sector, such as general business.”

The department seeks accreditation due to its continuous expansion.

“The reason the [AEM program] has taken so long to flourish is due to the fact that it is located in CALS,” said Brian A. Voss ’02 “Until recently, most students believed that the program was focused on the business of agriculture or farming. Only now are they beginning to realize that the AEM program is more similar to Wall Street than a farmer’s market.”

In order to be recognized by the AACSB, Cornell must meet the level of academic excellence required by the assembly. To fulfill these standards, Cornell is in the process of hiring five new professors to increase faculty capacity and reduce the student-to-faculty ratio.

“I met with prospective new faculty [to provide the University with a student’s perspective],” said Jordan Ast ’02. “I was very impressed by the two candidates and felt comfortable talking to them.”

The department also conducts yearly studies to compare the level of educational satisfaction of Cornell students against that of students in six peer schools.

“Cornell scored at the same level or better than six benchmark schools on 13 out of the 14 satisfaction factors,” said McLaughlin. “We felt very good about that.”

The yearly studies indicate continuous improvement, another AACSB accreditation standard. The studies also allow the department to devote attention to planning goals for the program, developing new teaching methods and checking these measures systematically for improvement.

“The accreditation will attract additional national attention to scholarship and student quality in the business education community at Cornell,” said McLaughlin. “We think this is going to increase the demand for very high quality students and rank us with US News and World Report’s best schools.”

According to Alice Seigul ’02, accreditation is a wonderful opportunity to draw attention to a program that has been hidden in the Agriculture college for many years.

“Right now we have a lot of [internal] transfer students in the program,” Seigul said. “If we are accredited we will be ranked by U.S. News and World Report and students will know of us before they get here.”

According to Ast, the accreditation will only add to an already solid program.

“Compared to my friends at other top business programs, ours is just as good if not better,” Ast said.

Voss commented that he has enjoyed his time in the current business program, and though he is excited for the future of the program, he has mixed emotions.

“Many changes will take place,” he said. “I am afraid that the need to remain accredited will alter [certain] decision making processes. I would be disappointed to see talented and experienced professors replaced by those who hold a Ph.D, simply to keep the accreditation.”

Archived article by Rachel Einschlag