Cornell University Johnson at Cornell University

Inside Johnson

Looking inward after rankings slide

After a promising rise in September's Wall Street Journal ranking of business schools, the Johnson School took a perceptual hit in Business Week's biennial ranking in October – moving from 7th to 13th, despite being one of only seven schools in the survey to receive straight "A's" from both students and recruiters in the magazine's scorecard of key measures of satisfaction.

Data from the magazine confirmed one factor in the result: erosion in Johnson School student satisfaction with their experience, from a peak in 2002 when the school ranked #2 in this category. In a highly competitive environment among top business schools, even small differences in survey results have a much greater impact on relative standings.

To address underlying causes and work toward reversing the trend, Dean Swieringa conducted a series of candid discussion sessions with students, as well as faculty and staff. From these (and a survey conducted by the Student Council), five key areas of concern emerged for further focus and action. These include curriculum (particularly the 2nd year), marketing/branding (greater visibility and simplicity of message), community (lack of enthusiasm, camaraderie), the admissions selection process, and career services for independent job seekers.

The dean commissioned five teams with a faculty and/or staff champion for each area, who held open forums in November with the Johnson School community for review and action planning. "Our plans are evolving and we will share more details as we progress," Dean Swieringa said in an email announcing the forums. "I am committed to do all that I can to make significant progress and improvements in these key areas."