Business schools straddle the realms of theory and practice. Any sound business education provides students with an understanding of the basic principles – of everything from accounting to macroeconomics – and an appreciation of how issues play out in the world. An excellent business education affords students the opportunity to deal with both theory and practice at the highest level.

In our fields, we frequently construct models that describe how things are supposed to work, or how we think they should work. But we constantly test them by examining data, by working with and talking to practitioners, and by incorporating observations and experience into our thinking.

At NYU Stern, the boundaries between the campus and the business world are porous. And we have the great geographic fortune to be located in New York, which is home to an unrivaled concentration of businesses. As a result, our faculty and students have the opportunities to validate their theories and models with industry counterparts who are at the tops of their respective fields.
For example, NYU Stern’s proximity to Wall Street – and the prospect for collaboration it affords – was one of the factors that attracted Robert Engle to Stern in 2000. Professor Engle, was named a Nobel Prize winner in economics last fall for his work in developing and applying models to analyze and forecast volatility. Every day, on trading floors a few miles to the south of our campus, investors and analysts put his models to work.

New York is home to a stunning array of non-profit organizations – symphonies and opera companies, giant foundations and hospitals, and small neighborhood economic development groups. All these organizations can benefit from the adaptation of management best practices, and our students can benefit from learning more about how these organizations work – and about the work they do. That’s why we developed the Stern Consulting Corps (SCC) program.

Under this innovative consulting internship program, which involves about 50 students each semester, NYU Stern MBA students put into practice the skills and knowledge they gain in the classroom to help revitalize small and minority-owned businesses in New York City. SCC serves as the umbrella for a unique partnership among NYU Stern, non-profit organizations such as the Harlem Small Business Initiative, the Robin Hood Foundation and SEEDCO; and management consulting firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton and A.T. Kearney. Working in partnership, the non-profit organizations provide Stern MBA students with their assignments, and volunteers from the consulting firms serve as mentors on the projects. In turn, businesses and non-profits benefit from the Stern MBA students’ expertise in everything from strategic and financial analysis to marketing and operations.

We take seriously our responsibility to be active and productive members of a larger community. And we believe that these initiatives – and our ongoing efforts to attract the highest quality faculty and students – are among the many factors that make NYU Stern a model for other business schools.

This issue of STERNbusiness features a great deal of innovative thinking on the part of NYU Stern faculty members, and on the part of the many business and government leaders who participated in events at Stern last fall. I invite you to explore it.

Thomas F. Cooley