President Wu talks spring plans, new entrepreneurship department

Emanuela Gallo, Editor-in-Chief

Additional Reporting by Farah Javed and Maya Demchak-Gottlieb

S. David Wu will mark his third year as Baruch College’s president this summer. He shared Baruch’s plans and goals for the future in a sit-down interview with The Ticker.

Baruch will establish an independent department for entrepreneurship titled the “Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” The major is currently under the Management Department.

Wu said the new department will serve students with ideas that go beyond business, like a social entrepreneurship endeavor or a nonprofit organization.

“You can use those entrepreneurship skills to get sponsorship,” Wu said. “For any kind of new entrepreneurial ideas, you need a basic skillset to get things going.”

With the aim of “community building,” Wu plans to host a large-scale event this semester similar to last year’s spring and fall festivals.

Wu discussed the topic of diversity in light of his interview with ABC News regarding affirmative action. He reiterated that pipeline programs play an essential role in creating Baruch’s diversity, without race being a factor in admissions.

One such pipeline is the Baruch Business Academy, which allows students to smoothly transition from partnered community colleges to Baruch.

Baruch has currently signed with BMCC and Queensborough Community College. It is about to sign with LaGuardia Community College, according to Wu.

Baruch will expand the community college outreach program into non-business majors. Wu said Weissman School of Arts and Sciences Dean Jessica Lang is interested in the model.

The next step is to have faculty agree on the coursework eligible to transfer to Baruch. This process took over two years for the BMCC partnership, according to Wu.

Wu said one of the program’s goals is psychological, aiming to build students’ confidence in their abilities to succeed in Baruch. Another goal is to pre-certify classes at the community colleges so that students’ credits can all transfer over.

“If you look at the population of students from these community colleges, they are even more diverse than we are, so in other words, we are able to further diversify our student population,” Wu said. “At the same time, through early intervention, [we] make sure they can be successful when they come here.”

Baruch has a presence in approximately 30 target high and middle schools. Wu said CUNY is establishing a more formal partnership with the NYC Department of Education with the hope of simplifying the application process.

The university proactively reaches out to eligible, academically-prepared students to encourage them to apply. It also waived the application fee for all NYC public high school seniors until April 15.

Wu also spoke to the popularity of Baruch’s SEEK program, which overshot its target enrollment by approximately 40%.

He said it is not enough to foster a diverse community; institutions must also give the support to succeed.

“You have to do it intentionally, you have to do it systematically,” he said. “You can’t do it without follow-through, without the right preparation and intervention because after they come here, and they’re not successful, it’s kind of pointless, right?”

Wu praised the new online CUNY-wide discrimination portal as a more accessible form to report acts of discrimination and retaliation. After a report, Wu said there is a fact-finding investigation that tries to verify an allegation.

“We will have to follow through and make sure we have all the facts,” he said. “We’ll be able to make decisions based on that.”

Wu said Baruch students have a great reputation in New York City, based on recent data and rankings . Baruch surveyed 5,000 participants from eight stakeholder groups, including prospective students, current students, alumni, employers and parents.

This reputation relies on Baruch’s academic excellence, accessibility and student career success after graduation.

“That outcome is the proof in the pudding,” Wu said. “It’s not just feel-good, but it’s actually produced tangible outcomes.”

Possessing all three qualities makes Baruch unique, according to Wu.

“If you just think about other different schools, many of them have one or two, but very, very few have all three together,” he said.

However, the data suggested that Baruch’s reputation does not go as far outside New York City. Wu believes Baruch’s reputation needs and deserves to improve nationally.

Baruch is starting to gain national recognition. Wu cited Baruch being named a top producer for Fulbright U.S. students and scholars this academic year. Baruch shares this title with 18 institutions, including Harvard University.

“It’s not just for our own boasting right,” he said. “I think it’s really about impact. Because this is what public education is supposed to do … it should be commonplace that higher education provides that excellent education to anyone who wants to get it.”

Wu also said it was a milestone for Baruch to win the competitive grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Black and Latino Studies Department.