Carlson school builds on facilities to lift rankings

by Coralie Carlson

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new business school this afternoon will bring together the University and business community to celebrate the transformation within the school and the change in buildings.
Carlson School of Management officials said they hope for a rise in rankings due to the construction of the new building and enhancement of programs.
Under Dean David Kidwell, the business school has become one of the most competitive in the country. The Management Information Systems area ranked first in the country in 1996, the evening MBA program ranked ninth and the undergraduate program was 13th, according to U.S. News and World Report.
The $45 million building is further heightening expectations.
Kidwell said he anticipates the building will increase student satisfaction and secure ties in the business community, making a noticeable increase in the school’s rank in the next five years.
The facilities were “one of the main things that were holding us back from gaining national prominence,” said Mike Townley, a second year graduate student. Townley’s father, the late Preston Townley, was Dean of the Carlson school from 1984-88.
Although the new location may be the most visible change, it is just one among many. In the last seven years, the school took several steps to make it more competitive, from strengthening ties in the corporate world to implementing more hands-on learning methods and revising the curricula to provide a more practical education. The Carlson school also:
ù reorganized its administration by condensing eight departments into three “clusters”
ù added a master’s program in health care administration
ù began admitting freshmen into the undergraduate program in addition to the standard junior admission policy
ù established an international network of programs, offering degrees in Warsaw, Poland.
Soon, they will also expand to Vienna and China.
“It’s amazing, the list goes on and on,” said Tim Nantell, a finance professor. There are “so many changes in such a short period of time, it’s overwhelming.”
Before construction was completed, the Carlson school was split between five different buildings scattered throughout the West Bank. But now the school is housed in one location.
Kidwell identified two strategic objectives for the new building — to create a school identity and a sense of community.
The four-story building features an atrium, student lounge and food service to foster a community feeling within the school.
“There’s definitely an energy to the new building,” Townley said. “There’s much greater interaction between students and faculty.”
Accommodating the business community as well as students was the central focus behind the architectural design. “We have two customers at the Carlson school,” Kidwell said.
One of Kidwell’s goals is expanding the executive training programs and other non-credit courses. Attracting members of the business community to become students themselves is a key to the school’s success, Kidwell said.
The ribbon cutting and public dedication takes place today from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Building tours are also offered this week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.