Thank you for bringing the issues affecting Orfalea College of Business to our community. I have been a faculty member for the Orfalea College of Business for more than a decade and would like to add a few points to your article so that the issues presented in it are not taken out of context (“Faculty complain about Orfalea course,” March 9).
First, it is common, and indeed crucial, for business schools to involve business people in their curriculum. An integral part of the mission of the best business schools is to expose students to the realities of starting and running a business. The most qualified people to profess to this fact are successful business people with the highest level of personal integrity and commitment to social good, like Paul Orfalea.
Second, it is not an anomaly to restrict student access to courses. All upper division and honors courses have prerequisites that limit student access. With the university budget in decline, students’ access to courses will be further limited as fewer sections of the same course are offered.
Third, it is not a crime to feed our students. Indeed, many alumni specifically designate part of their contributions to socialization of our students. In my own portfolio management course, we cherish having outside speakers who have often traveled from afar (at no charge) to share their wisdom with our students. We show our gratitude to our outside speakers by hosting a formal dinner honoring them and our students are required to attend, interact with our speaker and act like business professionals. This is critical to our students’ success.
Finally, the individual interviewed for the article suggests that Orfalea taught this course without the knowledge of the faculty. This is simply not true. Dean Dave Christy announced that Orfalea would be teaching during our faculty retreat last August and invited everyone to comment and participate in this effort. It is possible that the faculty that was interviewed was not present at that meeting, but that does not mean our faculty was blindsided.
Dean Christy is among the best business school deans in the CSU and UC systems. He is a fair and honest leader, who is admired by his peers, the university, our faculty, our community and business leaders. Orfalea is a first-rate philanthropist and a visionary business leader.
Both individuals are outstanding role models that are being smeared by self-interested individuals who stand to benefit from creating a crisis.
The outlook for the higher education budget is bleak, and The Tribune and our community are likely to be dragged into the impending budget crisis that pits the faculty union against the university administration. It is important that facts, rather than hysteria and hearsay, guide public debate of these important issues.
Cyrus Ramezani is a professor and chair of finance for the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business.