Lerner down in rankings, student leaders look for answers
Bloomberg Businessweek recently published its annual undergraduate business school rankings, and the university’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics did not make the list of 114 business schools.
“We need to be ranked somehow,” Frank Haendel-Gonzalez, the Lerner College student advisory board’s newly-elected president, said. “Even if it’s a Southern Living Magazine ranking.”
The advisory board acts as a liaison between students and the administration. Haendel-Gonzalez will serve as president for the 2016-2017 academic year as a senior economics and international business double major.
Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Haendel-Gonzalez moved to Delaware about six years ago. Haendel-Gonzalez joined the Blue Hen Investment Club his freshman year and has been an analyst in the Energy & Utilities sector. He was also the president of the Association for Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, ALPFA, up until this month.
Serving on the student advisory board for a year now as a board member, Haendel-Gonzalez has three main goals he hopes to accomplish as president.
“Number one, I want to graduate from a ranked business school,” he said. “I don’t know how much money we are going to have to allocate to this, but we are getting ranked this year. Otherwise, I will resign the day after the ranking is due.”
His second goal is to unite all departments, such as Economics and Business Administration, across Lerner. Haendel-Gonzalez said he believes it undermines the overall goal of improving the business school when the various departments pull strings to their side in hopes of benefitting those majoring within their respective department.
“I think we should unite forces in every aspect of the business school to really drive the value home for the students,” he said.
Thirdly, he wants to increase engagement both with students and alumni. The same way we emphasize the role of donations from alumni to fund scholarships or initiatives, we should do the same for experience and mentorship, he said.
Aside from the business school missing the rankings this year, the student advisory board has faced its own obstacles.
“I think that part of the problem that the board faces is that it’s really only seen as an advisory board,” Haendel-Gonzalez said. “It’s also directly responsible for the initiatives that benefit the students in the school.”
Along with the changes in leadership to the student advisory board, the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics is experiencing a rebranding phase. As part of the rebranding, the name will be shortened to Lerner College.
“Most business schools stand on their own in a lot of universities,” Haendel-Gonzalez said. “I think Lerner has yet to get to that point to where people say, ‘Yeah this is UD, but I go to Lerner.’”
Moving forward, Haendel-Gonzalez sees the biggest challenge for next year as convincing the alumni that Lerner students are worth their time, energy and mentorship.
“I’m very optimistic, but I’m very realistic too,” he said. “I know I won’t be able to execute everything I have in mind, but I want to get the ball rolling at least.”
Anna Gill, a senior marketing major from Newark, joined the board as a sophomore in April of 2014. She has been the acting president this semester.
The board is in the process of getting social media pages approved. Once it receives approval for Facebook and Twitter, it plans to do a “Meet the Members” campaign to increase visibility of the board across Lerner.
“This semester has been a rebuilding time period for the board,” Gill said. “We came into the semester with only four members, and we have grown to 12.”
Deborah Blanchard, the Communications and Marketing Manager for Lerner College since January 2015, serves as an advisor to the student board.
“It was a mutually beneficial situation in that my position as the manager of marketing communications for Lerner, I’ve been charged with managing the new brand platform that we’re creating,” Blanchard said. “As part of that, getting input from key groups, such as students, that are Lerner stakeholders is important.”
Blanchard said the college is also in the process of building a new website and creating an intranet for Lerner.
One of the things that Blanchard insists on working on is succession planning with the student advisory board. To know the board is bringing in students who are younger and will be open to continuing to serve is instrumental in planning leadership.
Haendel-Gonzalez will be one of three seniors on the board next year, which is refreshing to know that seven of the 10 total board members will have time left after he graduates, Blanchard said.
According to Deborah Blanchard, the Communications and Marketing Manager for Lerner College since January 2015, the university was not included in Bloomberg’s ranking list because the college missed the opportunity to participate.
According to Blanchard, her position was vacant for about nine months before she was hired. There was nobody to apply to Bloomberg and the college was not on the mailing list.
“Well of course we were all concerned about that because that ranking is key to our marketing communications,” Blanchard said.