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November 13, 2023 Focus: Business Schools

Quinnipiac's new $70M business school aims to accommodate enrollment, program expansion

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Holly Raider, dean of Quinnipiac University’s School of Business, and Sal Filardi, vice president for facilities and capital planning, pose at the construction site for the new $70 million business school building.

A hulking steel frame of the future 79,000-square-foot School of Business has arisen on the campus at Quinnipiac University.

Officials say construction is on track to be finished in 2025. Quinnipiac students pursuing business careers can expect more space, new technology, specially-designed learning areas and expanded course offerings.

The new $70 million School of Business building is part of a large-scale, $244 million “South Quad” campus expansion at the southern end of the university’s Mount Carmel Campus in Hamden. The overall project also includes a new academic building and residence hall.

Sal Filardi, vice president for facilities and capital planning, said the structural steel frame for the new School of Business building is finished, and workers are pouring floor slabs.

The roof was being installed as of late October, and workers next plan to begin putting the “skin” on the building. Rain has slowed construction a bit, but workers anticipate making up for some lost time in the months ahead, Filardi said.

When the project was first announced, school officials indicated it would open sometime in 2024.

“We’re on track to be completed for May of 2025,” Filardi said.

Holly Raider, dean of the School of Business, said Quinnipiac is making the investment in a new building because it needs more room.

“As the School of Business has grown over the years, we have needs and ambitions to do things that our current spaces either allow us to do on a limited basis, or we haven’t yet been able to do,” Raider said.

Quinnipiac’s current School of Business is on the north side of campus, and Raider said it outgrew that space long ago.

Raider said business education is a core academic offering at Quinnipiac, which was founded in 1929 as the Connecticut College of Commerce.

What to expect

Plans are for the new building to have a “Business Innovation Hub,” an incubator for building and testing new ideas.

It will also have a financial technology center that will provide a trading floor environment with Bloomberg terminals and collaborative learning spaces.

Rendering of the new School of Business building at Quinnipiac’s South Quad.

Students will be able to use trading platforms, investment tools and data systems, and get firsthand experience on how securities and commodities are analyzed, valued and exchanged.

Students will access real-time data and resources one would expect at leading investment banks, fund managers and brokerage firms, Raider said.

In Quinnipiac’s applied portfolio management course, finance students actively manage a $3.5 million equity portfolio for the university endowment, she said.

The new School of Business will also have what Raider calls a “digital sandbox.”

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big data and analytics are currently changing the way businesses operate, and students need all of these skills. These subjects are best learned in a laboratory customized for viewing and analyzing data and programming, Raider said.

“Our digital sandbox creates a learning environment conducive to working firsthand with the dynamic technologies that are redefining how businesses operate through ergonomic workstations that support multiscreen views while also enabling student collaboration,” Raider said.

The new building will feature a larger sales training center than offered currently. There will be a focus group room offering opportunities to see how groups make decisions, such as for marketing research or studying negotiations.

The new facility will have flexible event spaces for small and large gatherings, up to 150 people. This will allow Quinnipiac to host career fairs and conferences under one roof.

In the past, the business school has had to use other facilities, such as the student center, to host some events.

Group work

The new facility will also reflect changes in student learning preferences.

While traditionally, a professor might lecture to students for the duration of a class, the new building is designed to foster more group interaction, Raider said.

“Students have much more of an interest in group-based work and group projects, so the new space has a significant increase in study group rooms,” Raider said.

According to Filardi, existing classrooms aren’t big enough to accommodate having students break into groups and then also have larger class participation.

Miles Ellsworth, an accounting major who wants to be a certified public accountant, was among the students who gave school officials feedback during the planning phase on what they would like to see in the new School of Business.

Ellsworth and other students pushed for classrooms to have features such as easily movable furniture, so instructors can quickly change configurations to match lessons and teaching styles.

“The new School of Business will be really great, with a lot more classrooms and study space,” Ellsworth said.

Higher demand

Quinnipiac’s business school has seen growth both long term and recently.

As of September 2023, the School of Business had 1,900 students enrolled, including 1,423 undergraduate and 477 graduate students.

That is up overall from the fall of 2022, when it had 1,853 students enrolled, including 1,342 undergraduate and 511 graduate students.

Raider said she anticipates continued growth and demand for business courses.

“Business education is relevant, of course, to business majors, but we also have students from majors all across the university who double major or minor in business,” Raider said.

Students in other fields, from higher education to health care and government, often take business-related courses at Quinnipiac to boost their managerial skills and financial acumen, Raider noted.

“Someone in our physician assistant or physical therapy program — if they are going to open a practice, they need to know how to run a business,” Raider said. “Business education is relevant across the university.”

The School of Business also has executive education programs targeting full-time working professionals who want to learn about evolving business-related topics such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and blockchain.

That’s another growth area, Raider said.

A new fintech major is slated to launch in 2024. The accounting curriculum is being updated to reflect the evolving CPA exam.

When employers’ preferences for computing and information systems change, Quinnipiac’s coursework evolves, Raider said.

Now, students have a chance to learn Python programming language, for example, she said.

Another evolving curriculum area has been in industry certifications, such as in entrepreneurship, project management, Google Analytics, supply chain, Six Sigma and search engine optimization.

The goal is for the School of Business building to have LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification as a green building. It is designed to optimize energy use, including using energy-efficient LED lighting for interior and exterior lights.

It will have wood panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Quinnipiac’s broader $244 million campus makeover is being funded through the university’s endowment, philanthropic efforts and debt financing, the school said.

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