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Business majors not the only hard workers

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, April 15, 2005

This letter is in response to Kate Gales’ April 11 column. Though she clearly states, “I’m not trying to bring down the engineers or the archys or the pre-meds,” her article does just that.

Let’s look at the implications that Gales makes in her article. She states, “the vast majority of engineers, architects and doctors are going to end up working for a business major.” If that’s not putting down the aforementioned groups, I’m not sure what is. And not only is Gales making ad-hominem arguments, she is making false claims. CEOs of hospitals, for example, tend to be physicians but may even have undergraduate degrees in many other areas.

For example, Gary A. Mecklenburg, CEO of Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, was an Anthropology major who later earned an M.B.A. I’ll go out on a limb and say that most of the big research hospitals have presidents and CEOs with a scientific background.

Furthermore, the Fortune 500 has many CEOs who have engineering degrees; according to U.S. News and World Reports, 20% of the Fortune 500 CEOs have engineering degrees. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Jack Welch all have engineering backgrounds. Jack Welch, a chemical engineer, who knew?

The fact of the matter is technical backgrounds are often a necessity for running a company in an engineering or scientific field. So no, the vast majority of engineers will not necessarily be working for business majors.

Gales goes on to discuss how business majors learn skills that are immediately applicable in the real world, such as designing web pages, reading stock quotes and developing detailed budgets.

There is an implication that other majors do not learn these skills, though I feel Gales is again mistaken. As an undergraduate here at Notre Dame, my senior design class required us to maintain a web page to provide information to the engineers at Sears Corporation who were overseeing our projects.

Additionally, we had to prepare detailed budgets, as our designs were candidates for real world products. Perhaps there exists some confusion on both sides as to what the “other majors” do and learn in their four years at this University.

And Gales, perhaps you should step back and get a good look at reality, because you never know who your boss might be some day.

Lastly, I took particular offense to the statement: “Without business majors, this school would crumble.” Is it true that the University of Notre Dame has grown in large part due to the College of Business? Yes.

Is the foundation of this University financing, marketing, and business administration? No.

This University is rooted in Catholic tradition upon which our liberal arts, science and business educations are built.

Dan Tyszka



April 13