Construction has begun on the next home for the School of Business, an environmentally sustainable structure that will provide a launching pad for expanding the school’s offerings and developing new partnerships with the business community.
Ellen Durnin, dean emeritus of the School of Business, said the project represents much more than merely a new physical location for the school. Durnin, who retired in January after 10 years at the helm, was responsible for much of the planning for the new net-zero facility and has also led the school to the verge of AACSB accreditation, with a mock visit scheduled for fall 2021.
“With spaces available for meetings, and centers for Data Analytics, Financial Markets, and Behavioral Research, we hope that our business partners will find our new facility attractive and a place they feel welcome,” said Durnin, who will be succeeded as Dean by Jennifer Robin in July. “We want the School of Business to be a home for members of the region’s business community, and for them to see us as the ‘go-to’ school that is ready to address their challenges and needs.”
The future four-story, 60,000-square-foot facility will be located at the corner of Wintergreen and Farnham avenues, and is expected to be completed by early 2023, said Eric Lessne, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations. A ground breaking ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 17. Oak Park Architects of West Hartford is the project’s architect, while Sasaki of Watertown, Mass., is the designer.
The new building will provide more than double the space currently allotted for the School of Business, which is situated in part of the former Student Center Building. And it is being designed as an environmentally sustainable structure that will provide a friendly confine for SCSU partnerships with the business community.
Plans call for the facility to be the first building constructed by the state of Connecticut that will be a net-zero in terms of its carbon footprint. Solar panels added to the Lot 9 area on lower Farnham Avenue will help generate 90 percent of the building’s needs, supplemented by a below ground geothermal field at the rear of the construction site.
“During the course of a year, the amount of renewable energy created on site will be equal to the total amount of energy used by the building,” Lessne said. “As a result, the cost to operate the building will be minimal.”
He pointed to a variety of amenities designed to make the school’s new home an attractive location for students, faculty and staff, as well as the business community. They include:
*A 1,500-square-foot community room that could seat 100 people
*A 1,200-square-foot classroom and administrative suit designated for the MBA program
*A 60-student classroom with tiered (stadium-style) seating
*A 1,200-square-foot space designed for financial market and data analytics
*A 100-seat, multi-purpose auditorium with tiered seating
*Eight classrooms seating 30-40 students
*Behavioral lab area with observation room
*A stock market ticker that would be observable outside of the first floor near the corner of Wintergreen and Farnham avenues
*Office space for the dean, faculty and staff
Durnin pointed out that the new Business Success Center will have locations for employers to meet with and interview Southern students, and programs to assist students with their job searches and career planning.
“With 85 percent of our School of Business graduates staying in Connecticut to work, raise families and contribute to the community, our students are Connecticut’s future leaders and innovators,” Durnin said. “Their success lifts our region.”
The business school received a timely boost in February, with a $500,000 gift made through the Amour Propre Fund to establish the School of Business Endowment for Leadership Development at Southern. It is the largest contribution ever made in support of business students at the university.
Lindy Gold, who is president of Amour Propre and serves on both the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors and the school’s Business Advisory Council, made the gift to enhance and expand programs offered through the school’s Leadership Center These include the Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Program and IMPACT Greater New Haven, which places Southern business majors as interns at nonprofit organizations, with the university covering the cost of students’ stipends. Looking forward, the fund will support other leadership initiatives, such as a Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program; a Student Leadership Council, uniting business majors with community and business leaders; and global experience programming.
In recognition of this visionary donation, Southern will establish the Lindy Lee Gold Business Leadership Suite, within the new home for the business school. Southern hopes to inspire others to contribute to the fund, ultimately raising an endowment of up to $2.5 million to support future leadership programs.