Two Michigan Tech Schools Are Now Colleges

The Michigan Tech campus viewed from the water
The Michigan Tech campus viewed from the water
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Michigan Technological University's School of Business and Economics became the College of Business and the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science became the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

The School of Business and Economics and School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science are now Colleges.

Michigan Technological University’s School of Business and Economics and School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science have transitioned into the College of Business (COB) and the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES). The naming of the Colleges is effective today.

Steadily Growing

The history of a business program at Michigan Tech dates back to 1949, initially operating as a department offering only a bachelor’s degree in engineering administration. The department later expanded to feature more degree options, including both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. In 1970, the department was reconstructed as the School of Business and Engineering Administration. Dean Johnson, dean of the COB, says degrees in economics were added in the 1980s, and in the 1995-96 academic year, a curriculum restructuring led to the name School of Business and Economics.

Johnson said the expansion continues to this day: “We currently offer a broad range of degrees, including four graduate degrees.” Current undergraduate majors include accounting, economics, engineering management, finance, management, marketing, management information systems (MIS) and construction management, which is offered jointly with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“It is appropriate to be labeled a college given this breadth of degree offerings,” Johnson said, adding that a school is appropriate for an area that is new and smaller. “Our program has been accredited for nearly two decades. College imparts the prestige indicative of our history, value and offerings — from our top faculty and technology-infused business core, to our esteemed alumni network. We are reaching our fullest potential and it’s time our name reflects that.”

Johnson said the name College of Business is a catalyst for the business program, enrollment growth and organization structure.

Positioned for the Future

In a similar vein, CFRES Dean Andrew Storer said the name change from school to college “reflects our value to the University and provides a framework for continued growth as a college. This is planned to include new academic programs, as well as increasing the size and diversity of our student body. We will be strongly positioned to broaden the unit to best meet the future needs of society and the environment.”

The history of the forestry program at Michigan Tech dates back to 1936 with the formation of a Forestry Department. The School of Forestry and Wood Products was formed in 1967, following the merger of the Forestry Department with the Institute of Wood Research and the Ford Forestry Center. Since that time, the undergraduate and graduate degree offerings have expanded, along with the areas of research, and the name of was changed to the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science in 2002 to reflect these broadening areas of emphasis. Like Johnson, Storer feels the transition is important for the message it sends.

“This is a clear signal to alumni, donors, employers and funding agencies that the unit shares the same support and relevancy of the other units on campus,” he said. “The name will enhance the visibility of the University in the areas of environmental stewardship, conservation and sustainability of natural resources.”

Storer added this is crucial as society looks to understand and manage the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on natural systems and the environment: “Our emphasis on sustainability, ethical stewardship of natural resources and development of future leaders in natural resource management dovetails strongly with other efforts on campus in a rapidly changing world.”

Likewise, Johnson feels the COB transition reflects the unit’s response to changes globally. "Technology and computing are creating significant linkages between the faculty and degrees of MIS, accounting and finance, as witnessed by the data analytics concentration in the accounting degree and the proposed fintech (financial technology) minor,” Johnson said, explaining that the COB’s offering of management, marketing and economics focus on the human element and human decision making while embracing the influence of technology.

An Aid to Recruitment

Both deans feel the transition to colleges will enhance the recruitment of quality students. “Outside of the University, becoming recognized as a college helps with our visibility in the educational and research landscapes of forestry, wildlife conservation, ecology, genetics and geospatial science, among others,” Storer said. “Society needs trained professionals, exceptional research and thought leaders in these areas as we address the impacts of climate change and other human impacts on the environment.” 

Johnson said the change to a college from a school helps create a product and brand that stands apart: “Business is the number one major in the world. We are competing across the nation and globe for high-quality business students. While no one factor will make all the difference for every student deciding whether to attend Michigan Tech, the prestige provided by our new name will be yet another important influence in helping a prospective family realize the immense amount of opportunity inside our doors.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.