Kevin Hallock, the current dean of the ILR school, has been announced as the next dean of the SC Johnson College of Business. While we — along with what often seems like a vast majority of students, and indeed, faculty — are still slightly confused as to what the College of Business actually is, we see reason to be hopeful of Hallock’s appointment.
The College of Business is comprised of three rather disparate elements — the Johnson Graduate School of Management, the hotel school and the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management — and much of the controversy surrounding the business college’s creation dealt with each constituent school’s frustration at being subsumed into an amorphous, indistinct body.
That frustration is certainly merited; each individual school prides itself on its unique flavor of education and expertise, and it certainly would be a shame if those flavors were overpowered by the bureaucracy of an umbrella college.
The ILR school, which is not a part of the College of Business, also has a unique, proud history and identity. We are hopeful that Hallock will use the insight he has gathered as dean of the ILR school, and the appreciation he most surely has for the value of distinctiveness, to ensure that none of the business college’s constituent schools feel smothered or drowned out. As we saw last semester during the social sciences school debacle, the administration is still frustratingly prone to playing academic Frankenstein, but Hallock should be able to grow the College of Business while still respecting the wishes of the students and faculty.
Secondly, we are heartened that a labor professor, particularly one whose research focuses on executive compensation (and its excesses), will now oversee the College of Business. As Cornell and its student body grow increasingly corporate in their dispositions, Hallock’s appointment reminds us of the importance of the study of labor along with the study of business. Cornell can and should have more to offer than career fairs full of Goldmans, McKinseys, and Amazons — after all, this is the university that brought us leading workers’ advocates like Randi Weingarten ’80, Bruce Raynor ’72 and Seth Harris ’83. Installing an ILR dean at the helm of the business college sends clear message that Cornell will not ignore labor even as it expands its business programming.
Hallock arrives at his new post at an integral time in the business college’s development. If Cornell truly wishes its new creation to compete with the Whartons, Sloans and Kelloggs of the world, it cannot afford to continue making the unforced errors that have plagued the project from its inception to the still-unexplained departure of its founding dean. We believe Hallock is up to the challenge, but he certainly has his work cut out for him.