SHA earns AACSB business-unit accreditation

October 15, 2014

We are delighted to announce that AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) has granted inaugural, unit-level accreditation to the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell. We are the only stand-alone hospitality school in the world—one not attached to or accredited under another school or college—to earn this designation.

AACSB-accreditation1While our Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) program has been included previously as part of AACSB’s accreditation of Cornell University, the movement from university- to academic-unit-level accreditation marks the first time that our preeminent Bachelor of Science program was included in the accreditation. The unit-level accreditation is based on the school’s level of independence in the areas of branding, external market perception, financial relationship with Cornell, and autonomy as an academic unit.

Our decision to include our undergraduate and MMH degree programs in an application for business-unit accreditation came at the strong recommendation of the AACSB reviewers following their last visit to Cornell. “This opportunity came to us as a result of our previous AACSB accreditations,” explained our dean, Michael Johnson. “It’s a testament to how much we’ve evolved, how far we’ve come. The reviewers came here to look at our MMH program, but they couldn’t help but notice the high quality of our 900 undergraduates, 60 faculty members, and overall curriculum and educational experience.”

AACSB-accreditation2The AACSB team who visited the school last spring praised it abundantly. After offering the proviso that “it is impossible to list all of SHA’s strengths, innovations, and unique features in this report,” they went on to note the “very high level” of our students, saying “The quality of the student body… is among the strongest that the members of the peer review team have seen.” As for those teaching them, the reviewers wrote, “The intellectual contributions of SHA faculty are strong and consistent with the mission and strategic plan of the school.”

The team cited our “very strong ties with industry” as “especially commendable for the value that they bring to environmental scanning, strategic positioning, and assurance of learning.” The team also cited the close relationships we maintain with our alumni, noting, “Each year more than 150 alumni return to campus as guest lecturers and as recruiters for their companies.”

Our four centers and institutes were noted for producing “cutting-edge knowledge and learning experiences through research impacting the global hospitality industry.” The Statler Hotel was recognized as “a true learning laboratory that provides a unique opportunity for students to experience first-hand principles they are learning in the classroom.”

The peer review team “was particularly impressed with the quality and dedication of staff members who provide high-quality services to students,” adding, “Students spoke very positively about the quality of support they received. In particular, close attention is paid to working with students on internship and career opportunities, with a variety of unique programming occurring throughout a student’s time in the school.”

Finally, the reviewers remarked, “The SHA has strong leadership and a commendable understanding of the responsibilities that it has as a component of Cornell University with a commitment to the quality of intellectual life represented by the university.”

AACSB-accreditation3“We have evolved to become a first-class business program grounded in hospitality,” said Dean Johnson. “We offer our students an amazing set of skills and experiences, and they graduate ready to launch remarkable careers in the hospitality industry and beyond. We expect most, but not all, of our students to pursue careers in hospitality, because that is what makes us unique. Our educational experience is grounded in the largest and most vibrant industry in the world, but it is no surprise that over a third of our students pursue careers in real estate and finance while a growing number of our students are joining technology companies. If all of our students pursue hospitality careers, then we have not provided them with a broad enough business education.”

About AACSB:
Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. Fewer than five percent of the world’s business programs have earned AACSB accreditation.

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