Courtesy of Cornell University

H. Fisk Johnson '79 donated $150 million — the largest single gift ever to the Ithaca campus — to endow the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

January 31, 2017

Johnson Donation to New Business School Reveals Flipped Public Perception

Print More

The decision to combine the Hotel School, the Dyson School and the Johnson School into the College of Business was initially met with mixed reactions from faculty, alumni and students in the programs, but H. Fisk Johnson’s ’79 $150 million donation has shown that since then, public opinion has reversed.

Hotel School student Colton Haney ’17 led the charge against the combined College of Business last spring. However after learning more about the merger, Haney is excited about the prospects for the College of Business.

“Now that we have been assured that each of our schools’ identities are going to be preserved, I am optimistic that [The Cornell College of Business] will bring positive change to the three programs involved,” Haney said. “While I am still cautious about how the CCB will officially take shape as it is still in its early stages, I am far more confident in its prospects moving forward.”

Other students in affected schools are equally excited about the merger.

Dyson student Ari Perlmutter ’19 hopes that the donation will help improve business programs at Cornell, such as by expanding “the business analytics program of the College of Business.”

Hotel School student Gillian McIlroy ’18 hopes the consolidated College of Business will simplify student admissions to Cornell.

“I think Hotel and Dyson get a lot of internal transfers because, prior to being at Cornell, [students] are not aware of these business majors,” McIlroy said. “By putting these majors under a new name, the SC Johnson College of Business, I think they will all be advertised in a clearer way.”

Johnson Student Marissa Grayfer ’18 believes that the donation, and the new College of Business, will increase the educational value of the business program at Cornell.

“From my perspective, more collaboration and resource-sharing with Dyson and SHA will serve to elevate each of the three programs and benefit their students,” Grayfer said. “Each school needs to keep its individual identity, but the success of the College of Business benefits all of us.”

Meanwhile, faculty in the affected schools are just as optimistic as students regarding the prospects that the College of Business and Johnson’s donation will bring.

“This historic gift paves the way for a new era in business education at Cornell,” said Dean of the Johnson School Mark Nelson. “These resources will enable us to attract and develop top faculty, enhance scholarship support for students and continue investing in innovative curriculum and MBA programming.”

Interim Dean of the School of Hotel Administration Kate Walsh ’90 believes the donation will increase the international prestige of the SHA.

“We are fortunate to have alumni like Fisk Johnson and his family provide such a transformational gift,” Walsh said. “This gift will enable the School of Hotel Administration to further advance our mission as the premier world leader in hospitality education.”

Dyson School Dean Ed McLaughlin articulated the Dyson School’s “heartfelt gratitude for the generous gift made by Fisk Johnson and SC Johnson.” He is confident that, owing to an integrated, consolidated institution, “faculty and students will benefit significantly from the enhanced support and resources provided.”