Lerner down in rankings, student leaders look for answers

Courtney Messina/THE REVIEW
Purnell’s Lerner College Trading Center featured above.


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.

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    This story leaves the impression that Lerner didn’t rate high enough in the rankings to be included; this is not accurate. The story fails to explain that Lerner did not participate in the survey used to produce the rankings in 2016, nor does it explain why that happened. It also fails to mention that Bloomberg suspended the rankings in 2015 for one year to revamp the methodology, which contributed to the reasons that the Lerner College did not participate in the last survey.

    It should also be noted that Bloomberg announced in mid-April of this year that they are discontinuing the rankings for undergraduate business colleges altogether so there is no opportunity in the future for Lerner to participate in the process.

    Anyone interested in learning more about this is encouraged to contact me at the Lerner College of Business and Economics.

  • comment-avatar
    Bruce Weber, Dean, Lerner College 3 years

    Please consider all of the ranking sources – Lerner appears in the upper quartile of many other business school rankings:
    – Part-time MBA ranks 51st in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Grad Schools and 5th in Mid-Atlantic region
    – Public Accounting Report ranks Lerner in its Top 25 for Undergraduate Rankings for large Accounting Programs (schools with 22+ full-time accounting faculty)
    – Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education ranked Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management 7th among top U.S. institutions
    – Online MBA ranks #72 programs in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report Best Online MBA Programs
    – Ranked #11 in the Best Business Schools: The A-List rankings by CollegeAtlas.org
    – Ranked in Poets & Quants’ Best Undergraduate Business Programs
    – Recognized in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Undergraduate Business Schools
    – AACSB-accredited since 1966 (business) and 1984 (accounting)
    – Princeton Review rates UD one of 75 “best value” public institutions of higher education
    – U.S. News and World Report ranks UD #29 among national public universities and 75th among all national universities

  • comment-avatar
    Scott Jones, Professor & Chair Department of Accounting & MIS 3 years

    Lerner has programs that place 96% of students in employment within their major upon the date of graduation and have the highest success rates on professional license exams (like the CPA) relative to competitor institutions. Lerner houses some of the most innovative and cooperative interdisciplinary programs in the University and the region, for example the JP Morgan Chase Innovation Center and the Financial Services Analytics Program offered in conjunction with the College of Engineering. Lerner offers interdisciplinary majors requiring the cooperation of multiple Departments, for example the MIS major and minor, and the Horn Center entrepreneurship programs. Lerner is on the National recruiting lists of all Big 4 professional services firms, and routinely places students in Global internships and full time positions. We put our efforts into student focused programs- for example the Lerner trading laboratory, home of the Blue Hen Investment Club. Ratings sources are out to sell subscriptions, the faculty in Lerner College are out to ensure student success.

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