March 12, 2008

AEM Places Fourth in ’08 BusinessWeek Rankings

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After becoming an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accredited program in 2002, the AEM department has risen in the rankings, from the 14th spot in 2006, to 10th in 2007 and finally to the fourth spot this year.
The AEM department is one of only two accredited undergraduate business programs in the Ivy League.
To rank the 127 programs, BusinessWeek measures student satisfaction, post-graduation outcomes and academic quality. According to BusinessWeek’s explanation accompanying the ranking, the AEM program has a “challenging and practical curriculum” which “leaves grads well-prepared for first jobs.”
Upon learning of AEM’s improved ranking, Prof. William Lesser, chair of the Department of Applied Economics and Management, said that he was “stunned and delighted,” adding, “We’re in pretty good company there.”
According to Lesser, the AEM department seeks to provide an applied, practical education for its students and offers a revised list of core requirements, including courses such as AEM 220: Introduction to Business Management and AEM 240: Marketing. Students also choose from one of 10 specializations, such as agribusiness management or international trade and development.
The department constantly seeks to improve itself through new programs like its four-year leadership development program, Business Opportunities in Leadership and Diversity, and a new business minor program in collaboration with the engineering school, according to Lesser.
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Prof. Edward McLaughlin, the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing and director of the Undergraduate Business Program, said that class size has decreased because of an increased number of required core courses and an individual faculty members teaching a greater number of courses.
In the past three years, applications to the AEM department have increased by 50 percent although the number of students accepted has not, increasing the quality pool of students, according to McLaughlin.
However, McLaughlin said that the nature of the rankings remains “somewhat capricious” because many of the AEM department’s strategic programming decisions are not reflected in the ratings.
“The formula [of the ranking system] is imperfect,” he said, since the rankings cannot reflect the subtlety of the program.
With this in mind, McLaughlin said that while he is “delighted with the recognition, [it] doesn’t really affect the strategic decisions of our program.”
Furthermore, McLaughlin said that the rankings will not affect AEM’s three strongest “trump cards”: the quality of its students, the faculty, and, he said, “the fact that we’re located at Cornell University.”
Access to a wide range of courses offered throughout the seven undergraduate colleges as well as world-class facilities make Cornell a valuable place for the AEM department.
“Fantastic faculty and an even better quality of students has made my experience the best I feel it could be thus far,” Ryan Coyne ’10 stated in an e-mail.
Tom Marino ’78, managing director at Lehman Brothers and chair of the Undergraduate Business Program’s Advisory Council, said that students from Cornell are “elite, not elitist.”
Attesting to the work ethic of Cornell students, Marino explained that at Cornell “you learn how to work hard,” so students that come from Cornell are as well-matched as any other students.
He sees the AEM program as a “broad-based educational experience” composed of “real world perspective, innovative teaching and leading-edge research and industry outreach.”
Marino also said that he is very proud that Cornell is “right at the top in terms of numbers of students coming to work at Lehman Brothers.”
“They’re prepared to work hard,” he said.
After graduation, Lisa Antonecchia ’08, president of AEM Ambassadors, is headed for the business side of the fashion industry with the competitive executive training program for Polo Ralph Lauren. She stated in an e-mail that “AEM provides its students with the business acumen, analytical skills and networking skills that employers look for in their candidates.”
Remarking on AEM’s No. 4 ranking, Antoneccia stated, “To the students in our program, it was comparable to making the final four in the NCAA basketball tournament.”