January 27, 2016

University Assembly Urges Tabling College of Business Plans

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At its first meeting of the semester Tuesday, the University Assembly passed a resolution asking Cornell’s Board of Trustees to table plans for the proposed College of Business until the Board’s Mar. 24 meeting, according to the resolution.

The U.A. — which represents and voices the interests of Cornell faculty, staff, graduates and undergraduates — passed the resolution with a final vote of 9-0-2.

If created, the College of Business would combine the School of Hotel Administration, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management into one college.

The Faculty Senate previously approved a motion — requesting that the Board of Trustees table the vote at its January meeting — on Dec. 16 in a unanimous vote. Tabling the vote until Mar. 24 would allow time for community engagement with the proposal, the Faculty Senate argued in its resolution.

In its Tuesday motion, the U.A. joined the faculty in asking the University to promote community feedback on the proposed college. The U.A. decision stressed that the creation of a new academic unit concerns multiple parties — the curriculum of undergraduates and graduates, the research and teaching opportunities of the faculty and the consolidation of staffing units — and all should provide input.

Faculty and alumni have also raised concerns about the funding, administration and potentially lower ranking of the proposed College of Business, The Sun previously reported.

In response to the proposal, a number of alumni have threatened to reallocate their future philanthropic contributions — decreasing gifts designated for scholarships, named professorships and the University’s general fund. According to the U.A. resolution, this would have a markedly negative effect on students, faculty and staff if realized and necessitates further consideration about the College of Business.

In the resolution, the U.A. added that the timing of the announcement — Dec. 14, toward the end of exam period and shortly before the University’s winter shutdown — was less than ideal.

Gabriel Kaufman ’17, acting Codes and Judicial Committee chair of the U.A., said that his concern was with how the administration broke the news.

“No constituencies were consulted before this was announced and no time for feedback was allotted,” Kaufman said. “The only time intervening between the announcement of the proposed college in December and and the expected approval of the Board of Trustees this upcoming weekend was during winter break, which is not exactly a conducive time to solicit input from students.”

Kaufman said he thinks it has become too commonplace for administrative decisions to be made without exhausting the proper mechanisms for community feedback.

“I hope that through passing this resolution, the U.A. can influence the Board to hit the brakes on such a large administrative decision that impacts the lives of our faculty, staff, and students, and set a clear precedent to the new administration that we don’t make unilateral decisions here,” he said.

The U.A. recommended that the University use the time until the Board’s Mar. 24 meeting to obtain further community feedback on the proposal and engage shared governance with all University constituencies.