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Nope, I Didn't Ghost Write This For The Sun

But it is a well-written piece:

Currently, Cornellís undergraduate colleges operate independently from one another financially. Individual colleges manage their own budgets, each of which contribute a portion of their revenue to the University to cover central administrative costs. Though this method may put pressure on each college to lower internal spending, it has in turn permitted administrative costs to soar.

The system ó which divvies up spending on things like maintenance, student services and libraries ó provides few incentives to keep costs down, as any increases in budgets are only felt marginally after being divided across the University. It is this lack of central fiscal responsibility that allowed the Office of the Provost to triple in size in recent years, before it shrank this summer in the wake of a budget shortfall. A more unified approach to central spending across the undergraduate colleges would make for less leniency in excessive spending in the future.

A more obvious result of the detached college system, however, is seen in its effect on undergraduate study as a result of a confusing overlap of departments. Take a course like financial accounting, which is taught both in the Department of Applied Economics and Management and the College of Hotel Administration. Or marketing, which is taught in the Hotel School as well as in AEM. And then there is microeconomics, which can be taken in the Department of Economics or in AEM.

The overlap of such departments and colleges is a result of Cornellís historic past ó a past that our University has outgrown. Both AEM, which until 2002 was called the Department of Agricultural Economics, as well as the Department of Communication are today out of place in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and would benefit from being integrated into another college with a focus on the social sciences.

Now is a more apt time than ever for Cornell to reconsider its undergraduate college system. In recent decades, the successes of the University both financially and academically diverted the administrationís attention away from the inefficiencies of its archaic infrastructure. We hope the University sees the opportunity presented by these budgetary restraints to emerge as a more unified and efficient Cornell.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on August 27, 2009 (#)

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