by Colin McCoy, staff writer
At the Dec. 3 Student Caucus meeting, President Steve Solnick and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paula Garrett addressed the recent decision to cut the business major at Warren Wilson. Students in the major were also present.
The decision to cut the major was based on research that was done by the college. An external consultant was brought in, and the decision was discussed at the Cabinet level.
“Our conclusion was that in light of the fact that we do not have surplus resources to allocate, improving our business offerings within the traditional context was not feasible,” Solnick said. “They are expensive to do really well, and we want to provide a [high] standard of education across the board.”
Warren Wilson is doing what other similar colleges have been doing with their business programs.
“We wanted to strengthen our internship programs, our pre-professional offerings, the full education we offer here,” Solnick said. “The pre-professional program, that pathway, will serve students very well in the way that small liberal arts colleges do. That is our recommendation to the trustees.”
This pre-professional program will allow students to take a business concentration in their studies, and give them the prerequisites to get their MBA (Masters of Business Administration), but will not let them formally major in business.
Some students in the major do not agree with the philosophies behind the pre-professional direction.
“A lot of people in our community may have ideas about what business as a discipline is,” business major, Ben Wall, said. “The program we have here offers an alternative to that.”
Wall is concerned that the new direction of Business at the college clashes with the philosophies of Warren Wilson.
“Business as usual, business education is how a lot of these issues clash with our mission statement,” Wall said. “In interest of preserving what we have here, the program we have here is most reflective of what we’re about as a school.”
Decisions like this have been made in the past, however. Also, it is not out of the norm for the college to bring in outside consultants to look at particular departments.
“We always look at departments, and ask how we can improve them,” Solnick said. “This is a regular part of maintaining quality at an institution like this.”
Students presently in the Business program will be able to graduate with a degree in business, as long as they are officially declared by the end of the semester.
Ben Feinberg is the chair of the Social Sciences, and is involved in helping declared students finish their degree.
“I made a spreadsheet of what courses the students need to graduate so we have some understanding of how long and how many times we offer different courses,” Feinberg said. “I’m very confident that we will be able to offer the courses that students need.”
According to Feinberg, it is not necessary to get an undergraduate degree in Business if you want to get an MBA.
“To get an MBA people don’t necessarily need an undergraduate Business major but it’s an advantage if they have access to a certain number of skills classes,” Feinberg said.
The college is attempting to offer all of the prerequisite skills classes so that students who want to receive an MBA will have the necessary courses on their transcript.
“We think that’s affordable for us, and it will offer a much better value for our students,” Solnick said.