As the McIntire School of Commerce enters its second semester of operation in its new $61 million facility on the Lawn, the adjustment seems to have gone swimmingly for students and faculty of the undergraduate business program.
The commerce school has bounced around campus since its founding in the 1920s. It was most recently housed in Monroe Hall, where it moved from the Lawn when Darden left for new digs at North Grounds. The school’s move back to the Lawn means more space—156,000 square feet in the newly renovated and expanded Rouss and Robertson halls. Last year, about 840 students, mostly undergrads, were enrolled in the McIntire School.
Gerry Starsia, associate dean for administration at McIntire, in the new courtyard designed to imitate the student/professor congeniality fostered by the Lawn.
“Monroe was too small for us, and we needed more space to compete more effectively against other Top 10 business schools,” says Gerry Starsia, associate dean for administration. Monroe will now be used by various Arts & Sciences departments.
The new facility’s design pays careful attention to preserving Rouss Hall’s original structure, which was combined with the newly constructed Robertson Hall. Peggy Ehrenberg, assistant director for employer relations, points out the original wooden beams on the floor of Rouss Hall, a detail to enforce the University’s “historical tradition.”
Paying homage to the layout of the Lawn, where students and professors reside as neighbors, faculty offices line the perimeter of the third-floor courtyard, with entrances to the interior hallway and outside terrace. This space “imitates the sense of community and open dialogue between professors and students that the Lawn fosters,” says Brittany Pollak, a senior commerce student.
“If a facility can accommodate communication and encourage exchange between faculty and students, then one could consider this a successful project,” Starsia says.
Each classroom is equipped with the exact same technology, such as computers, large LCD screens, electronic touch-pad room reservation systems and monitors on the back wall to aid classroom presentations. With 15 fully equipped group study rooms and four IT labs, students feel “privileged to have access to this new technology,” says Heather Stanley, a recent McIntire graduate with a master’s degree in accounting. Along with innovative technology, McIntire is doing its part to recycle, use “green” cleaning and automatically power down idle computers, Starsia adds.
McIntire has one obvious goal: Become the highest-ranked business school. It has been ranked the No. 2 undergraduate business school in the nation by Business Week magazine the past three years, after Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. Besides becoming No. 1, the school looks to create “more interdisciplinary programs [to]…co-venture with other schools at the University,” Starsia said. “We’re really hoping that the commerce school becomes a hub of activity among all the schools at UVA.”
Entering the building today, says Starsia, it’s clear that “you’re in a place that’s happening.”
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