Launched and ready

By: Janice Endresen
Launched and ready

Introducing the Cornell College of Business

On July 1, Cornell University established the Cornell College of Business (CCB), integrating Cornell’s three accredited business programs: the School of Hotel Administration, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. While each of these schools will retain its unique identity and mission, their collective capabilities will bring together faculty, curricular offerings, and programs within a coordinated, cohesive college with the transformative excellence, scope, and scale to cement the university’s position as a world-class center of teaching and research for business management and entrepreneurship.

“Up to now, business education has been fragmented across Cornell, and the world typically perceives only a piece of that puzzle,” says Soumitra Dutta, who stepped down from his role as the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Johnson on June 30 and assumed his new role as dean of the College of Business on July 1. “The general public doesn’t think about looking for a great undergraduate business program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which is home to Dyson, and they don’t necessarily perceive the Hotel School as being a business school. That will be corrected by the College of Business, because the world will see the entirety of our strengths in business education and research.”

The Cornell College of Business will be one of the most comprehensive business schools in the nation, with 155 research faculty and more than 2,900 undergraduate, professional, and graduate students. By combining faculty from the three partner schools, the College of Business will have the third-largest business faculty in the country, behind Wharton and Harvard. And it will have the fourth-largest business school budget, behind Harvard, Wharton, and the University of Chicago.

“Through this integration, Cornell will bring together unique strengths in three of the world’s largest industries — food, hospitality, and technology — to create even greater opportunities for students.” — Provost Michael Kotlikoff

“The College of Business will bring together the excellence and breadth of Cornell’s leading undergraduate, graduate, and specialized professional programs to address society’s most pressing issues,” says Provost Michael Kotlikoff. “Through this integration, Cornell will bring together unique strengths in three of the world’s largest industries — food, hospitality, and technology — to create even greater opportunities for students to learn from and work with the full range of Cornell’s outstanding leaders in the fields of business, management, and applied economics. Students will have enhanced access to the international opportunities, mentorship, and alumni expertise that are critical to their long-term success.”

Greater communication and collaboration among faculty

The College of Business will link faculty of equivalent disciplines in departments that span the individual schools so as to enhance collaborations in teaching and research. The ability to offer a critical mass of colleagues will also help member schools to attract and retain excellent faculty at all levels. As Dutta points out, “Faculty look at who they will interact with if they come to teach here.

“Our larger size will make us more efficient, too,” adds Dutta, citing a recent situation when the three Cornell schools conducted three separate searches for economics faculty. “Pooled energy in coordinating events and other efforts will benefit us all.”

“The more we can collaborate … the higher level of excellence we can have.” — Rohit Verma, dean of external relations, Cornell College of Business

“The more we can collaborate and the more we can engage with each other, the higher level of excellence we can have as a university and within the individual programs,” says Rohit Verma, dean of external relations for the College of Business. “Cornell has always been at the forefront of educational and research programs around the world; it has always created programs that nobody else thought of. By combining Cornell’s three business-oriented schools, I believe that we can create an even higher level of excellence.”

Chris Barrett, deputy dean and dean of academic affairs for the College of Business, offers an example of the benefits of integrating business faculty: At an informal lunch, faculty from the three schools who teach sustainability-related courses compiled a list of courses they offer, Barrett says. Half an hour later, they were still writing down courses and realized that, together, the schools likely have the biggest curriculum in business sustainability of any university in the country.

“None of the faculty teaching these courses was aware of that,” Barrett says. “There have been huge gaps in coordination and communication because we didn’t spend time talking together. Frankly, there was no mechanism to make it happen.”

Johnson faculty who have significant strengths in management and sustainability strategy will benefit from collaborating with Dyson faculty who are environmental economists knowledgeable in environmental policy, and vice versa.

Johnson faculty know that while they have significant strengths in management and sustainability strategy, they lack environmental economists knowledgeable in environmental policy. Dyson has exactly the opposite situation, Barrett says. “Those are precisely the sorts of curricular conversations that faculty can start to engage in once we create coordinating measures that, up to now, did not exist.”

Verma points out that the combined faculty in the three colleges will have the expertise needed to educate students about the ways in which entrepreneurship is redefining the hospitality industry and other industries.

As examples he cites Uber, Airbnb, and Flatbook, which combines the Airbnb concept with aspects of the traditional hospitality sector. “All of these are entrepreneurship activities that require the components of hospitality, but beyond that, understanding of technologies, analytics, and business models. Such a rapidly evolving business landscape requires transdisciplinary collaboration among curriculum offered by the three schools and cannot be effectively addressed by a small faculty that specializes in only one aspect of academia,” Verma says.

“I do expect to see a greater focus in the college on entrepreneurship,” says Dutta. “We have the ability to combine talent, ideas, professors, and students with unique resources and professional networks that will really help to push entrepreneurship to an even higher level at the university.”

A win/win for Johnson students: One-stop shop for corporate partners and recruiters

“Among the three schools, we have strong connections with at least 500 corporations around the world — multiple touch points through the centers and institutes and through projects,” says Verma. “When they come to Cornell, they have to deal with all these different offices and different programs. We have to make it easier.”

“It’s much better for a company to manage one strong relationship with one college as opposed to three relationships of varying degrees with three schools.” — Soumitra Dutta, dean, Cornell College of Business

“It’s much better for a company to manage one strong relationship with one college as opposed to three relationships of varying degrees with three schools,” agrees Dutta. “I spoke to the global CEOs of two large companies — EY and A.T. Kearney — and asked, from their perspective, whether the college will be a good thing. Their answer was a definite yes, because they will have a clearer frame of reference for business education at Cornell.”

The College of Business will also facilitate coordination of external relationships with other entities. As Verma points out, “Our schools don’t just interact with capital markets; we need to build relationships with other stakeholders, including governments and NGOs.” Public engagement is a clear priority, as Cornell’s website makes clear, he adds, which states: “It’s our mission — and our responsibility — to engage with the needs of modern societies, as both a means of learning and a means of effecting relevant change.”

Career services for students in all the schools in the College of Business should expand and become better coordinated, notes Barrett. “We hear routinely from employers that they wish we could coordinate more effectively. And students want access to employers that their friends in the other schools seem to be able to access,” Barrett says.

“Each school will also benefit from new corporate relationships,” Dutta adds. “For example, Cornell Tech, which has a strong relationship with Johnson, has been developing some unique relationships with leading firms from the technology sector. Many hospitality companies might be interested in working with these firms to better understand the impact of technology transformation. It will be a win-win-win, for students, the companies, and the university.”

Opening students’ access to classes

Better coordination of curriculum in the three member schools, from cross-listing classes to timing courses so they don’t conflict, will be one of the most visible benefits to students, says Barrett.

He cited a compelling example of what doesn’t work now: The two international finance courses taught by two prominent faculty members in two schools are taught only every other year, and this year they were offered at exactly the same time in the same semester. So graduate students were unable to take both classes. “There are lots of those examples because it becomes very difficult to coordinate units that have no common management other than at the university level,” he says.

Johnson students will have greater opportunities to learn across disciplines and collaborate with a broader network of faculty and students in sister schools.

As it stands now, it’s possible for students to take classes in the different schools. But in reality, it’s often not easy, says Dutta: “Students from outside a school might get lower priority for acceptance into a class. Sometimes there aren’t enough course sections. The course schedules are not coordinated. There are all kinds of logistical and practical barriers. But in the future it will become seamless for students to access richer programming across the three schools.”

Looking ahead, students will have greater opportunities to learn across disciplines and collaborate with a broader network of faculty and fellow students at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. Students enrolled in any of the business schools will be able to pursue a specialty focus in, for example, hospitality, real estate, resource and developmental economics, finance, or digital technology. And they will have more learning opportunities as faculty collaborate to create more popular, progressive programs such as Cornell’s undergraduate business minor and the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA, which places MBA students in a tech-learning environment together with Department of Computer Science and College of Engineering students.

“Our students go on to become leaders in the organizations they choose to work in and the societies where they choose to live,” says Dutta. “Our students are also being required to help address some of the key problems in society around us. The preparation we can give them in the College of Business by integrating the unique perspectives that Dyson brings in sustainability and agricultural economics, of the Hotel School in hospitality and real estate, of Johnson in the core business disciplines, and, not to forget, Cornell Tech in technology transformation, all help them to become successful and have a higher impact.”


Each school within the College of Business will continue to have its own dean who is responsible for that school’s admissions and academic program, and each school’s faculty will retain oversight of its academic program. Dyson will remain within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and also join the College of Business, with Dyson students admitted to both colleges and those who are New York State residents continuing to enroll at the New York State contract college tuition rate. Faculty in Dyson will be appointed in both CALS and the new College of Business. Hotel and Johnson faculty will be appointed in the new College of Business. The deans of each of the member schools will report to the dean of the College of Business.

Cornell College of Business Faculty Profiles


Cornell College of Business Student Profiles

The power to effect positive change

“The Cornell College of Business aims not just to educate extraordinary students and generate path-breaking discoveries, but also to help the private sector effect positive societal change,” says Chris Barrett, CCB’s deputy dean and dean of academic affairs. “At a time when governments are increasingly struggling to tackle problems of climate change, to improve food security through enhanced productivity in agriculture and more efficient distribution of food around the world, the private sector is contributing to those goals — in many ways, faster than the public sector is. AndCornell discoveries in the sciences and the social sciences and even in the humanities can be leveraged through business instruction and business research to help firms better figure out how to tackle problems like climate change and food security.”

“The Cornell College of Business aims not just to educate extraordinary students and generate path-breaking discoveries, but also to help the private sector effect positive societal change.” — Chris Barrett, deputy dean and dean of academic affairs, Cornell College of Business

Dutta believes that this integration will boost the excellence of all the schools. A larger faculty will attract more eminent professors; a richer array of courses will attract a broader spectrum of students; and a unified college will build stronger relationships with industry partners, he says. As a result, the college will have a deeper impact as it strives to solve pressing societal problems.

“Being able to leverage Dyson’s strength in international development and agricultural economics, the Hotel School’s expertise in hospitality, entrepreneurship, and real estate (through the Baker Program in Real Estate), and Johnson’s depth in economics, finance, and executive training will naturally lead to a College of Business that stands out for its unparalleled breadth of instructional excellence,” says Dutta. “A more prominent and collaborative platform will elevate opportunities for faculty to conduct innovative research and be at the forefront of their fields.”

Sources for this story include the many articles written about the Cornell College of Business for the Cornell Chronicle by Susan Kelley; CornellCast videos; presentations at meetings held for students, staff, and faculty; emails; and a presentation from Dean Soumitra Dutta to the Cornell Board of Trustees in May 2016.

Meet the Cornell College of Business leadership team

Cornell Business Leadership Team

A) Soumitra Dutta, dean of the Cornell College of Business and former Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Johnson. As Johnson’s dean, Dutta led the school in launching two new MBA programs: the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA and the Cornell-Tsinghua MBA/FMBA at Tsinghua University in Beijing. An authority on the impact of new technology on the business world, Dutta is the co-editor and author, respectively, of the Global Information Technology Report (co-published with the World Economic Forum) and the Global Innovation Index (co-published with the World Intellectual Property Organization). A member of the Davos Circle, an association of long-time participants in the Annual Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum, Dutta has engaged in a number of multi-stakeholder initiatives to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.

B) Chris Barrett, deputy dean and dean of academic affairs, Cornell College of Business, and former David J. Nolan Director of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. The Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and an International Professor of Agriculture at the Dyson School and an award-winning teacher and scholar, Barrett joined the Cornell faculty in 1998 and has been principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on more than $30 million in extramural research grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the National Science Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, and various other corporate, foundation, government agency, and nongovernmental organization sponsors.

C) Rohit Verma, dean of external relations, Cornell College of Business, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures and Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor in Asian Hospitality Management at the School of Hotel Administration (SHA). A member of the Cornell faculty since 2006, Verma has held a visiting professor appointment at Johnson since 2008 and has served as coordinator of the CEIBS/SHA MBA/MMH dual-degree program, director of the Executive Master Program Development Project, and executive director for the Center for Hospitality Research at SHA. Verma, who has received several research and teaching awards, has focused primarily on teaching courses in service operations management, quality systems and processes, project management, and product and service innovation.

D) Mark Nelson, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of Johnson. A professor of accounting and Eleanora and George Landew Professor of Manage­ment, Nelson has conducted research examining psychological and economic factors that influence how people make decisions; interpret and apply accounting, auditing, and tax regulations; and trade in financial markets. He joined Johnson in 1990 and has won multiple awards for teaching excellence. He began his five-year term as the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean on July 1. Read more about him here.

E) Ed McLaughlininterim David J. Nolan Dean, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. A distinguished expert in the efficiency of food distribution systems and a faculty member since 1983, McLaughlin is senior associate director of the Dyson School. For 20 years he has been the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing and has directed Dyson’s Undergraduate Business Program, the largest undergraduate major in any one college at Cornell, with 700 students. McLaughlin’s academic appointment includes an outreach component — he has decades of experience working with food industry companies, trade associations, and public policymakers. He also directs Cornell’s Food Industry Management Program. McLaughlin will serve until June 30, 2017, or until a permanent dean has been named.

F) Kate WalshMPS ’90, interim dean, School of Hotel Administration (SHA).Anassociate professor of organizational management and member of the faculty since 2000, Walsh is an expert in the intersection of career theory, identity, and organizational relationships. In recent years, she has pursued a research agenda examining how to retain and develop professionals, especially women, in organizational leadership roles. She also conducts research examining the role of knowledge investments in the value of a firm. Walsh began a two-year term July 1, succeeding Michael Johnson, the Bradley H. Stone Dean of SHA, whose term ended June 30.

G) David Bebko, associate dean, marketing and communications, Cornell College of Business, and former associate dean and chief marketing officer at Johnson.

H) Tim Durnford, associate dean, technology and infrastructure, Cornell College of Business, and former associate dean for business affairs at SHA.

I) Laura Syer, associate dean, finance and human resources, Cornell College of Business, and former associate dean for administration and finance at Johnson.