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Offutt School announces new auditorium

Photo by Olivia Gear. Fresh snow covers the construction site for the Offutt School of Business. The school recently announced the addition of a new auditorium, which will open with the school of business this fall.

On Thursday, Jan. 12, Concordia College announced the inclusion of the Barry Auditorium to the Offutt School of Business set to open in the fall of 2012. The addition, named after B. John Barry, was possible due to a large gift by The Barry Foundation. This gift will impact not only business majors, but the college and community as a whole.

First, the auditorium itself is designed to be a flexible space, housing events for business students, non-business students, and the community alike.

William Craft, president of Concordia, said that the Barry Auditorium will be a space where business leaders can host lectures or hold forums with business students and faculty, a space with state of the art technology resources, and a space ideal for social events connected with the business school.

Its level floor, moveable seating for up to 200 people, and food preparation area are major parts of what makes this new auditorium so flexible.

“It has a range of opportunities that a fixed auditorium could not do,” Craft said.

However, Craft emphasized that students don’t need to be business majors in order to take part in the offerings of the new business school. He believes that students of all majors may be interested in gaining fundamental confidence in business principles or learning about non-profit opportunities through the events put on in the new auditorium.

“Many of our students will go on to become leaders in a church or to lead social and cultural change. These students will have a great deal to learn from the space as well as our business majors. It will be a resource for the college as a whole,” Craft said.

Greg Cant, dean of the school of business, added that there is “nothing in Moorhead to rival it.”

He expects that along with the students of Concordia, the entire Fargo-Moorhead community will be able to engage in activities at Barry Auditorium.

Even among the lecture spaces at Concordia, the new auditorium will be one of a kind. Cant explained that most lecture spaces seat around 100, aside from the Centrum, which is very large.

“We have nothing right now at the 200 size, and it’s in the interest of the college to have a range,” Cant said.

In addition to Barry Auditorium, students will also benefit directly from the Barry Scholars Program. This program, also part of the gift from the Barry Foundation, selects two sophomore students to act as ambassadors for the business program.

Sophomore students looking to apply must be business majors from the Offutt School. However, sophomores who are undecided but likely to major in business are also encouraged to apply.

Selected students will receive a $20,000 scholarship during their junior and senior year—the second highest valued scholarship that the college awards, according to Cant. This award would replace all existing awarded scholarships, except the Regents Scholarship. And unlike most scholarships which decrease in value as the years go by due to inflation, every two years the Barry Scholarship amount will increase.

“This will continue to increase forever,” Cant said. “However, the real benefit is the other opportunities that come with this program.”

Cant explained that the scholars will have the chance to meet special guests and be taken as representatives on special trips. An example he provided was that Barry scholars would be the first selected to interact with the Global Leadership Council, which, according to their website, is “an international network of experts in leadership and organizational transformation.”

“This scholarship will have a profound impact on their career,” Cant said.

Barry scholarship recipients will also be expected to provide above and beyond leadership on campus.

To select students, a committee including Dean Cant, several faculty of the school of business, a faculty member of the liberal arts, and a member of the business community will choose two sophomores who, through a written application and short essay, exhibit the qualities of ethics, leadership, global understanding and entrepreneurship.

Four finalists will be chosen to present verbally to the committee, and the two recipients will be chosen from those four. Since only sophomores can apply, once the program is up and running, there will be four students in the program at all times.

Craft explained that John Barry’s relationship with Concordia is long-standing, and he believes that Barry chose to donate to Concordia because “he has a very strong admiration for the faith and learning mission of the college.”

Barry was a student at Concordia in the ‘60s, and has been “from the start, part of a group of business leaders that helped the college envision the Offutt School.” The ideas for the designations came from Barry, but Craft said that he was always open to the college’s ideas on how the gift would best serve the students.

In the end, Cant stressed that the Barry Auditorium will be a college resource.

“If it’s not the coolest place to have something, I’ll be amazed,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”

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