I read Maura Bogue's opinion piece last week in The Collegian and found it entertaining. With humor, stereotyping is common, but I thought I should address some of it for those who are not making the journey over the lake. Also, drawing conclusions from one classroom experience does not seem fair, even if it is from Joe Ben Hoyle, the first faculty member to give a "Last Lecture."
Unlike other subjects, students generally do not arrive at college with any exposure to business, except possibly having worked at a job. The 12 years of school before college will expose the student to mathematics, literature, science, art and other fields (possibly economics) that can generate discussion almost immediately in the college classroom depending on the topic. In many business areas, the free-form discussion alluded to in the article simply cannot happen until the students understand basic principles (and there are a lot of them).
With the unit system curtailing classroom time, exposure beyond the basics is much more challenging now. Further, the topics are sequential and, in some cases, similar to the laws of physics and are really not open to interpretation. Maybe the best way to think of business as a subject of study is like a new language where until there is proficiency, there is no possibility for communication and debate.
As to the narrow, sterile feel of the building, a more open atrium should exist once the wing is added. It is paid for, but the cranes and bulldozers seem to be busy elsewhere. As said in the article, President Ayers may "get it," but I would like to see him start "building it."
I encourage more of you to make the trip across the lake. According to a number of surveys, the faculty in the Robins School of Business appear to be very capable at what they do. Also, you may have more business exposure than you realize. The Third Estate that made the Tennis Court Oath before the French Revolution was primarily from the business class, and an entrepreneurial venture by one Johann Gutenberg called moveable type was certainly pivotal in producing all those books for subjects that in many cases are not even business-related.
Tom Arnold, PhD, CFA
Associate professor of finance
F. Carlyle Tiller Chair in Business
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