$13M donation to put business school on map


The Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick has taken on a theme of expansion this year. Whether it be by opening its doors to a record number of first-year students, or the $13 million donation University President Richard L. McCormick announced last week, things at Rutgers are growing.

The implications, both faculty and students agree, are immense. The $13 million donation, the largest in University history, will allow the construction of a new center for business and professional studies on the Livingston campus and the endowment of a chair for the Rutgers Business School, McCormick said.

"Clearly, the purpose of the $13 million, for all intensive purposes, is to put the Business School on the map, and to make sure we bring in the best students and faculty, so that students may be placed in the best jobs as possible after they graduate," said Ivan E. Brick, chair and professor of Finance and Economics.

Of the $13 million donation, $10 million will go to construction, McCormick said.

Michael P. Schoderbek, associate professor of Accounting, Business Ethics and Information Systems said the new building is a necessary means of offering an even better education to students enrolled in the school.

"We need the latest technology to teach with," he said. "We really need that, especially because we offer MBA courses. We think it will make the department more competitive."

Many students agree, citing new technology, classrooms and course offerings as necessary improvements to the school.

"It's getting really competitive," Eric Schmidt, a Rutgers Business School senior said. "For future students to have improved technology and more courses, business students will be better prepared for the future."

Roopali Pendse, a Rutgers Business School senior, said the Business School needs a face-lift.

"A lot of the buildings on the Livingston campus look like high school building[s], and it doesn't really give much of a professional feel," she said.

McCormick said in his State of the University Address last week that plans for the new building are consistent with the large demand for the school's newly offered four-year undergraduate program.

"For years, business education in New Brunswick has been an upper-division program with only about 400 students," McCormick said. "Yet we know there is high demand for business education, a clear need for business expertise, great talent among our faculty, and opportunities for joint programs with the sciences and engineering."

For the fall of 2008, McCormick said 11,000 prospective undergraduates applied to the Business School, and only 300 of those were granted seats. Next year, he said, the school will enroll 400 first-year business students, and over the next five years he thinks enrollment will grow to 3,200 undergraduates.

Schmidt said this is a better system for business students who may need more time to choose their major.

"Having the ability of four years to change you major is much better than [changing] it going into your senior year," he said.

Pendse said another benefit stems from students' ability to spread out the distribution of their core requirement classes and classes for their majors.

"[The new enrollment system] will make it easier for students to start sooner," she said. "That way, they don't have to cram their requirements into their first two years, and they can see how they like their major from the start."

On top of construction, the Business School and the School of Natural Sciences will work together to establish the Bennett L. Smith Endowed Chair in Business and Natural Resources with the remaining $3 million, McCormick said.

Named for the late geology professor who retired from Rutgers in 1974, the endowment would support a faculty member working at the intersection of business, economics, natural resources and the environment. The chair will be jointly housed in the Rutgers Business School and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences, according to a University Media Relations press release.

The University is favorably positioned in one of the world's leading corporate centers, a viable means that would allow business students and business-people to network, said Dean of Rutgers Business School Michael L. Cooper said in his first message to Rutgers.

"This allows us to deliver the very best programs and research that integrates business, science and technology by combining a multidisciplinary emphasis with our proximity to a wealth of industry," he said.

Cooper's approach to business education is one of combining business with other departmental degree programs, namely science, which would allow students to respond to the needs of the national and global economies in their lines of future work, according to a press release from the business school.

Schoderbek said this aspiration and an endowment in Business and Natural Resources was an interesting one.

"I thought that was a little unusual, because it was working in the nexus of business and natural science - that could be a tough combination."

But Schoderbek said the donor, while he remains anonymous, had something in mind that he or she wanted to see at the University.

The donation of $13 million is a testimony to the fact that the Business School plays a positive role in students' futures.

"Getting a gift of $13 million is telling me something - that the outside world is recognizing the Rutgers Business School as a fine institution," Brick said.


Rachel Gillett

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