The proposed fee for the Kenan-Flagler Business School dominated the conversation during the University’s Faculty Executive Committee meeting on Feb. 19. The proposed fee for undergraduate students aims to allow the business school to accept more students and address other issues regarding diversity.
“At Carolina, we have a phenomenal undergraduate business program. We don’t live and die by the rankings, but it’s an easy thing to talk about: We’re about seven in most of them,” said undergraduate business program director Anna Millar.
In the 1980s, the undergraduate business program was close to losing its accreditation because the student to faculty ratio was too high. The dean at the time had to limit the size of the program in order to keep the ratio down.
“Right now, we turn away about half of our applicants for the undergraduate business program. These students have not applied to multiple business schools, they’ve applied to one and only school,” said Millar. “The majority of these students are extremely well-qualified, we just don’t have room.”
Doug Shackelford, the dean of the business school, views this low acceptance rate as unethical and said he wants to grow the business school. The proposed fee of $1000 per semester for business majors and $500-per-semester fee for business minors would allow the school to accept more students.
Millar said of the top 25 public undergraduate business programs in the country, UNC is both the cheapest and is the only one to not charge students a fee. Even if the fee was implemented, the school's program would still be the cheapest among the top 25.
Art and art history professor Cary Levine voiced concerns about other departments potentially losing students to the business school. He further said other departments may then request to charge students fees like the business school would.
Millar responded that the school is currently turning away perfectly qualified students and that the undergraduate business program is different from simply being a major in business. Due to its nature, it can be more expensive to run than other departments.
Representatives from student government spoke against the potential fee because they fear it would prevent students from pursuing business.
Millar replied that any students on financial aid would not be asked to pay the fee and that students not on financial aid would be able to apply for fee waivers.
Millar said based on last year’s applicant data, if the fee was implemented and the school could accept more students, the median GPA of admits would only drop by approximately 0.2 points.
The business school is currently losing money. The growth the fee would allow would not prevent the school from losing money, but faculty believe the long-term benefits outweigh the financial losses. They hope UNC business graduates would work in North Carolina after graduation and eventually help fuel the state’s economy.
The fee still has to be considered by several committees, the Board of Governors and Chancellor Carol Folt before it would go into effect.
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