College Faculty Approves New Business Concentration

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The College Faculty voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a new integrative concentration in Business. The concentration, first recommended in last spring’s One Oberlin report, a result of the yearlong Academic and Administrative Program Review, will enroll its first students during the Fall 2021 semester. It will join a new journalism concentration and several new arts-focused programs that will also be introduced in the fall.

The AAPR process identified demonstrated student interest in learning core business skills — such as finance and accounting — in an academic setting, while also gaining meaningful work experience that could better prepare students for a career post-graduation.

“I have seen more and more students [that] are becoming interested in business and entrepreneurship,” second-year Spencer Tu, who co-founded the Oberlin Entrepreneurship Club, wrote in an email to the Review. “I am very excited that the school is tailoring the curriculum to the wants of the students.”

The new concentration in Business will offer both curricular and co-curricular opportunities, such as internships, to satisfy the needs of current and prospective students.

“The Business integrative concentration requirements include an experiential component — for example, a high-quality internship,” Laura Baudot, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of English, wrote in an email to the Review. “Our alumni are already incredibly generous in helping students secure meaningful internships and employment. With the foundational skills the business [concentration] provides, students will be well-prepared to take advantage of internships and employment opportunities alumni provide.”

Baudot added that alumni are not the only group who have contributed to such experiences in the past.

“It will continue to engage alumni (and trustees and parents) as mentors across a variety of business-related programming,” Baudot wrote.

The concentration will require additional resources at a time when finances are tight across the institution.

“Resources for one additional faculty position to cover essential courses in business management and organizational theory and practice are necessary to complete the curriculum,” Baudot wrote.

According to the One Oberlin report, while a significant portion of the classes will be offered by the Economics department, other departments also offer courses that will count toward the concentration.

“It is important to note that other departments also offer practical courses in management or offer courses exploring the relationship between business and society,” the report said. “Their input would be critical to ensuring the concentration is appealing to students throughout the College and Conservatory.”

Faculty members hope that the new business concentration will provide meaningful academic experiences, while also helping both current and future students in their lives post-Oberlin.

“I think that the most significant benefits of the concentration would be to broaden the applicant pool and to facilitate students in making meaningful connections between the classes that they take and a career path after college,” Economics Department Chair and Professor Ron Cheung wrote in an email to the Review.