$10 million donation for new Carlson School building celebrated

Elena Rozwadowski

Because of a $10 million donation, the Carlson School of Management will open a building that is expected to increase admissions 50 percent by fall 2008, pending the Board of Regents’ approval.

Although Carlson School officials announced details of the expansion Thursday, they still must secure funding from the Legislature.

The 124,000-square-foot building will give the school an undergraduate student support office, a business career center, a new library and a home for the economics department. But above all, the facility is to include nine large classrooms that will house some of the core business classes, allowing the business school to admit more undergraduates.

“We’re turning away a lot of really good students,” Carlson School co-interim Dean Michael Houston said. According to its Web site, the Carlson School turns away 80 percent of its applicants each year.

“We don’t need this to get the admissions up, we need this to respond to the increase in admissions,” Houston said.

The building will be named Herbert M. Hanson Jr. Hall, after Carlson School alumnus Herbert Hanson and his wife, Barbara. The couple gave the University $10 million in March 2004 to support the expansion.

“My education was the key to my success,” Hanson said when he gave the gift to the University. “Now I want to do what I can to help more of today’s students get a good start in their careers.”

But Hanson’s gift will cover only about one-fourth of the building’s cost. The project is expected to cost $39.9 million, two-thirds of which the University requested from the state. The remaining $13.3 million will be covered by the University and by private donations, including Hanson’s.

But of the $26.6 million the University requested, only $13 million appeared on the Senate’s 2006 bonding bill.

“We have been making our case as often as we can with all of the legislators at the state Capitol,” Houston said.

Without full state support, he said, the Carlson School would also lose Hanson’s gift.

“That situation would result in a financial problem,” he said.

But funding is not the only obstacle. Plans for Hanson Hall still must be approved by the Board of Regents which is set to vote on the issue in May. The Carlson School hopes to break ground this fall between Riverside Avenue and 19th and 20th avenues south.

One of the main concerns during the design process was to keep the identity of the existing Carlson School building so “we would not be viewed as two operations,” Houston said.

Senior project manager at RSP Architects Marc Partridge said everything has gone smoothly with the design so far.

“There are just a lot of interested parties, which can be a challenge,” Partridge said.

He also said he thinks the design will connect the Carlson School to the Riverside neighborhood and campus.

“We’re confident that (the building) will be a good neighbor,” he said.

Carlson School senior Aaron DeBerg said it seems like the expansion is necessary to keep “a lot of the more promising high school students in the state.” He said classes definitely are crowded and the new building will help.

“When I saw my class schedule, it didn’t make sense that I had a Carlson class in Blegen (Hall),” he said.

Joe Swanson, a Carlson School senior, agreed with DeBerg.

“The rooms (in Blegen) are way too crowded and not conducive to discussion, which is really important in our classes,” Swanson said.

“I think the point (the University) is trying to make is that if the state doesn’t give them enough money, they’re going to lose job placement,” DeBerg said. “That seems to be the most important issue here.”

While some Carlson School students said they are excited about the proposed expansion, not all University students agree.

“Hell no,” said Naureen Javeed, a psychology senior. “Carlson already has enough.”

Javeed said there are many other buildings – such as Smith and Vincent halls – that need renovation but apparently the University’s pride in its business school holds higher importance.