GUEST ROOM | Dean Walsh Describes Hotel School Diversity Initiatives

In response to “‘The Best People Are Not All White’: Some Hotel School Profs Concerned by Lack of Diversity”

This past May, and, most recently, last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Cornell Daily Sun reporter Meredith Liu ’20, to review with her our comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs at the School of Hotel Administration and, broadly, at the SC Johnson College of Business. This issue is extremely important, so I appreciated being able to meet with her and to clarify our strategic focus. While in our discussions we acknowledged the challenges that our school and most business schools face, we were also able to share the critical ways in which we are reaffirming our commitment to, and expanding our efforts to, create a truly diverse and inclusive community. One of our school’s fundamental core values is to be a community that is supportive of and inclusive to all. That is foundational to hospitality, and our school’s stakeholders fully embrace this guiding principle.

Hotel School To Adopt Technology Into Curriculum

As the hospitality industry becomes more technology-oriented, the School of Hotel Administration is looking for ways to expand its curriculum to respond to student and employer demands. The hospitality industry has seen remarkable growth in the past 10 years, with the prevalence of online booking agencies, fast food dining and digital hotel check in process, among others. However, according to Andrew Whitmore, a full-time lecturer in information systems in the Hotel School, “the hospitality industry has lagged behind other industries in their adoption of technology.”

Whitmore said that the SHA is orienting its curriculum around the fact that more technology companies are recruiting technically-capable hotel graduates on campus. “Although the hotel school, in taking its cues from industry, has been a little bit slow towards adopting technology into its curriculum, I would expect the growth and expansion of IT and business analytics related curriculum, not only in the hotel school but also in the college of business,” he said. The students in the hotel school, according to Whitmore, have also shown more interest in the Information System concentration at the hotel school and the Information Science minor.

Faculty Call For Increased Input At College of Business Open Forum

Faculty and staff emphasized the need for increased involvement in administrative decisions when discussing the College of Business initiative at an open forum Wednesday. Provost Michael Kotlikoff moderated deliberations about the administrative rationale for the decision at the forum. Although many have characterized the decision as sudden and surprising, Kotlikoff said discussion of the College of Business actually began in 2008. The provost called the creation of the College of Business a politically difficult initiative, explaining that this made the administration choose to bypass the faculty senate when making the decision to merge the colleges. “If we had entered an extended debate with faculty and alumni, it would have been tremendously resisted,” he said.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Lack of Transparency

Re: “Alumni Threaten to Pull Donations Over Proposed College of Business,” News, Jan. 24
To the editors:
Congratulations to The Sun for its excellent and timely coverage of the University’s controversial decision to create a new College of Business. The articles discuss concerns of the alumni of the Hotel School especially and the fact that there were no “courtesy calls” or prior warning before the official announcement that the matter would be put to the Board of Trustees.  The Sun also refers to a unanimous resolution of the Faculty Senate to request that the Trustees table the proposal rather than approve it. It quotes President Elizabeth Garrett’s response to the Senate resolution but does not provide much context for the resolution itself. As a member of the Faculty Senate, I thought I could offer my understanding of that context.