Offutt advances

Photo by Regan Whitney. The Offutt School of Business during construction.

Although it appears the Offutt School of Business has a long way to go, it will be open for classes at the beginning of the 2013 spring semester and will provide several new opportunities for students.

The ongoing construction this fall has been a “less than optimal situation,” said George Kueppers, a resident’s assistant in Hallett and sophomore business major.

“With the construction given, [the desk] is just one more drawback of that. [It] doesn’t really serve the purpose of a desk,” he said. “We can’t really rent anything out.”

But Kueppers remains optimistic about the situation.

“With that said, I know the payback is going to be definitely worth it,” Kueppers said. “I’m a business major, so the fact that I’m going through this right now is okay.”

The Offutt School of Business will benefit more than just business students at Concordia, said Dr. Greg Cant, dean of the Offutt School of Business. He hopes the school will provide a new space for students of all majors to come and work.

In addition, Cant said it will encourage students to understand how important business is in their lives and come to appreciate it more.

“[Business is] how the world works,” he said.

The whole building is set up for the real world application. Walking into the building, either from the skyway or ground level, one is directly immersed into the students and faculties’ activities.

“It will be a hub of activity,” Cant said.

All of the offices, classrooms, and conference rooms are centered around the atrium, or lounge area, which is located on the basement level. The atrium’s ceilings stretch nearly 50 feet high and with the walkways on every floor circling around it, it is possible to see the atrium from any level.

Photo by Jamie Telander. Looking down toward the atrium in the new school of business during construction.

The atrium will house long tables where students can study or work on projects 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At one end of the space is a resource room for student use, and at the other end are group study rooms, which were designed for groups to practice presentations with the projectors.

Faculty offices line the west side of the building, clustered in pods, with a whiteboard, table, and chairs outside their office designed for students to be able to come and ask questions.

The study spaces are located between the pods and outside glass wall. Matt Gantz, business-finance major and Barry Scholar, said this is one of the parts he is looking forward to—being able to study late at night in these spaces and look out at Eighth Street.

The classrooms, mostly located on the east wall, have been specifically designed to create a different type of learning environment.

“There are three classroom sizes…with 14 total teaching spaces,” Cant said. They hope this number will have other departments saying, “Let’s come and do class over here,” he said.

There are two larger classrooms, which have staggered levels with fixed seats and desks. These lecture style rooms can hold up to 50 people, allowing for more than the average number of students in a Concordia class.

The second type is a seminar style room for 12 to 15 students with movable furniture.

The third size makes up the majority of the classrooms in the school, with its maximum capacity at 32 people. These classrooms place students in a circle in groups of five, with data ports in the center of the circle. The students’ laptops will be able to plug directly into these data ports and at the teacher’s click of a button, the chosen student’s screen will be projected onto either end of the classroom.

A circular formation of desks means no front of the room for the professor to teach from. This places the professor in the center of the room with the groups surrounding them.

The upgraded technology of these classrooms will allow faculty to teach directly from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, Gantz said. He highlights this as a direct impact to the education the business school will provide for him.

“It’s as real world as you can get in a classroom,” Gantz said.

Gantz also said that the group environment of these classrooms will help increase or promote communication among students and help students work in a group setting—skills they will need for the rest of their lives. This will also help the students build relationships with one another, and possibly ones they can maintain into their professional careers, he said.

The rest of the space around the building is home to boardrooms and conference rooms—including one dedicated to late President Pamela Jolicoeur—the Anderson Office of Career Success, the Small Business Development Center, and a student-run coffee shop.

One boardroom looks down over the atrium and is a space for not only students to come and host meetings, but non-profits and other local businesses to host their board meetings.

The Anderson Office of Career Success is also visible from the atrium, and is a place students can go to learn about internship and future career opportunities. It will also be featuring stories of alumni that are now in the business field.

The Small Business Development Center provides an opportunity for businesses to come and get assistance with expanding their business. This resource is accessible to about one-quarter of the state and gives students a chance to work as consultants. While this has been in existence at Concordia for about a year and a half, Cant hopes the new space in the school will allow for nearly all business students to get involved with it.

The student-run coffee shop will not only be a place for students to get caffeinated and hang out on the east side of Eighth street, but it will also be a practical business model and somewhat of an experiment for business students. The shop will be completely student-run and will provide a safe, yet real world, managing, marketing and sales experience for students before leaving Concordia.

Glass windows and maximum natural light throughout the building create an open atmosphere in every space of the school, and make it more sustainable. In fact, the new building will earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Certification for both the way the school was built and designed.

Cant said in order for this to happen, certain criterion has to be met in the way construction waste is disposed of and how new products are obtained. Some of the other ways the school met LEED standards was the repurposing of an old building, as well as a white roof that will reflect sunlight to be more energy efficient.

Right inside the majority of the glass windows of the school, students and faculty will notice that the ceiling is slanted. This is to bring more natural light into the building and to reduce the need for overhead lights.

Another feature of the building that counts towards the certification is the shower and bathroom that was installed for faculty. This encourages them to walk or bike to work, or be active throughout the day.

All of the new features of the Offutt School are things that will benefit the entire Concordia community, Cant said, not just business students.

As a liberal arts college, “all departments feed the college,” he said. But even if students do not choose to take business classes, Cant said the school is a great addition to Concordia’s campus.

“It’s fancy, fun, and looks beautiful,” he said.

 

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Jordan Elton

Jordan Elton '14 is majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is from Apple Valley, Minn. In addition to writing for the Concordian, Jordan is involved in Student Government Association, Habitat for Humanity and Campus Ministry Commission.

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