University approves new undergraduate business minor

Vice Provost Cynthia J. Cyrus served as chair of the committee that has created Vanderbilt's new undergraduate business minor program. (Vanderbilt University)
Vice Provost Cynthia J. Cyrus served as chair of the committee that has created Vanderbilt’s new undergraduate business minor program.

Vanderbilt University’s new trans-institutional undergraduate business minor will launch this fall, following its formal approval in December by the four undergraduate schools and the Owen Graduate School of Management.

The new minor, developed in response to steady student demand, provides a strategic growth opportunity for Vanderbilt. The program will draw on the themes of the Academic Strategic Plan in terms of its governance and teaching models. The program will be the first to be administered jointly across all participating schools.

Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)
Provost Susan R. Wente

“As a truly trans-institutional minor, the business program integrates Owen faculty with their counterparts in the undergraduate schools—an approach that is uniquely Vanderbilt,” says Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “While traditional minors are housed in a single school, the business program concept is innovative in its inclusion of multiple disciplines and schools. The program will be grounded in the rigorous study of business theories and practices and will be situated within Vanderbilt’s strong liberal arts tradition.”

[rquote]The new minor will integrate five required half-semester fundamental courses taught by Owen faculty with electives provided by the undergraduate schools.[/rquote] Students may explore key business concepts by creating elective groupings, or pathways, which include entrepreneurship, ethics, finance and accounting, marketing and advertising, organizational effectiveness, operations, and strategy.

“Vanderbilt undergraduates have long expressed interest in studying business and launching careers in management,” says M. Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen Dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy. “The new business minor provides an excellent opportunity to extend the Owen School experience and expertise beyond the graduate-school level.”

M. Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen Dean of the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management

Coursework will be designed to actively engage students in solving business problems—whether those occur at a startup business, a local nonprofit or on campus. The new program also will promote a major initiative of the Academic Strategic Plan: undergraduate immersion through experiential opportunities that guide students toward their desired profession.

For example, a student may decide to join a team at the Wond’ry—Vanderbilt’s new makerspace—developing apps to help relieve traffic congestion. Another student might work alongside a magazine publisher as they evaluate the print and online composition of their publication to maximize readership and revenues.

Such immersive projects not only will equip students with ready portfolio pieces but also will stimulate deeper learning, as research consistently indicates that these types of experiential opportunities help students synthesize knowledge far beyond a single semester.

The new minor will be phased in during the next two academic years. This transition will allow existing students with declared minors in Corporate Strategy and Financial Economics to complete those minors, while permitting rising sophomores and juniors to start the new minor. Priority seating in the required business core classes will be held for sophomores and juniors during the first two years of the new program. Hiring is underway at the Owen School to support this new undergraduate minor.

“This exciting minor is the result of a broadly consultative and collaborative effort, and I cannot thank our committee members enough,” says Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost for learning and residential affairs and chair of the business minor design committee. “Most of them have served three years to bring the minor to fruition. The committee’s work was supported by faculty across the university as well as the Faculty Senate.”

The Business Design Committee members are:

  • Cynthia Cyrus, chair, vice provost for learning and residential affairs, professor of musicology and affiliated faculty in women’s and gender studies, Office of the Provost
  • Elizabeth Boyd, project manager, Office of the Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs
  • Mark Cannon, associate professor of leadership, policy and organizations; associate professor of human and organizational development, Peabody College
  • C. André Christie-Mizell, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, professor of sociology, College of Arts and Science
  • Karl Hackenbrack, associate dean and director of accountancy, associate professor of management, Owen Graduate School of Management
  • M. Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen Dean and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy, Owen Graduate School of Management
  • Gary Kimball, director, program in managerial studies; acting coordinator of business-related minors, College of Arts and Science
  • Roger Moore, associate dean for undergraduate education, principal senior lecturer in English, College of Arts and Science
  • Art Overholser, senior associate dean, professor of biomedical and chemical engineering, School of Engineering
  • Melissa Rose, associate dean, collegiate program, associate professor of piano, Blair School of Music
  • Christopher Rowe, director, division of general engineering, associate professor of the practice of engineering management, communications director, School of Engineering
  • Craig Smith, associate dean for graduate education and undergraduate affairs, associate professor of psychology and human development, Peabody College