January 18, 2012
The three-story building will serve as an anchor for a new North Campus Gateway with an entrance to the campus from Marsha Sharp Freeway.
Jerry S. Rawls doesn’t even try to contain his pride in the new structure that bears his name.
“All of the years of planning, and all of the years of dreaming and finally it’s a reality. And now we’re about to move in and start classes,” Rawls said in December at the ribbon cutting of the new Texas Tech University Rawls College of Business building. “This building sets the standard that Texas Tech will use forever as the baseline of what academic buildings should look like.”
Students, both undergraduate and graduate, begin classes in the massive state-of-the-art structure this week.
The main purpose of the new building is to improve student learning, said Debbie Laverie, professor and Rawls College of Business senior associate dean.
“Business education has moved to experiential learning – students doing things, thinking about what they are learning and applying that. This occurs through case method, service learning, personal response systems and role playing, among others,” Laverie said.
Laverie explained the college’s previous building did not provide a space for deep learning like this to occur, with fixed seats and tables. The college’s new home offers tables and chairs that move and white boards on the walls for student teams to report with.
Texas Tech President Guy Bailey lauded the dedication of everyone involved in the project and those whose lives would be touched by the building in the future.
“This new building is a testament to the commitment and direction of the leadership of the Rawls College and representative of the university’s commitment to our students,” Bailey said. “Let this serve as a monument in honor of past graduates, those who made today possible and all future students who walk through the doors of the Rawls College of Business.”
“Technology is available in all classrooms and common space,” Laverie said. “Mediasite, which is the leading webcasting platform that captures class instruction, is in every classroom as well, and students enrolled in the class can review the lecture until they understand the course material. That tool has been very powerful in our experiments with the technology and student learning in accounting.”
The 250-seat auditorium is equipped with a 10-by-16 foot screen made up of 108 LED rear-projection tiles and 10.2 million pixels.
However, business students in all majors throughout the college will benefit from the educational value of the building’s amenities. Programs such as the global supply chain management concentration, the energy commerce program, and graduate programs like the Master of Science in Accounting and the executive-style MBA will find new dynamics using the new tools.
Every room is equipped with personal response system recorders. Students answer questions using clickers or smartphones and their answers are captured and stored electronically, great to assess learning and engage students, Laverie said. Additionally, document cameras are in all rooms for faculty to display timely examples.
Dawn Wolff, a junior management information systems major from Bullhead City, Ariz., is eager to get classes underway so that she can spend time in the building.
“The natural lighting throughout the entire building, including the basement, is a much more welcoming and engaging environment,” Wolff said. “You actually enjoy being there, which makes studying a much less tedious experience. The technology in the classrooms is phenomenal, and this gives students access to many valuable tools.
“Overall, I feel a great amount of pride by being in this building. It’s a place where we can come and study what we love, interact with the faculty who are shaping us, and work closely with our peers. I have always felt that the Rawls College is proud of its students, and now that’s been taken to a whole new level by giving us an environment to excel.”
Recycled materials were used in the terrazzo marble floor in the building's atrium.
The new facilities also will allow for more conferences, symposiums, presentations and banquets that will strengthen ties between the school and business leaders. Recruiters also will have convenient access to prospective students in a Career Center that mutually benefits employers and candidates. Stronger relationships between academia and business will create a synergy of fresh ideas that will enrich faculty, students and professionals.
“The building is going to be key in recruiting in the broadest sense,” Rawls said. “I don’t care whether you are recruiting somebody for the business school, the engineering school or if you want a football player to come here, the answer is they’re going to bring them over here and walk them through this building and say this is the kind of school that Texas Tech is. And it’s going to be important also in recruiting faculty members. My hope has always been that one of the real impacts of this building is going to be in our ability to attract the very best and brightest faculty members.”
Laverie said the college has 3,600 students. Based on the faculty they currently have, that is a good number from an accreditation standpoint where student-to-faculty ratio is important.
“We have 700 graduate students and are looking to grow our master’s and doctoral programs,” Laverie said.
“The business school has made huge strides over the past decade,” Rawls said. “I think Dean Allen McInnes has been a terrific addition to the school. The quality of the faculty and the quality of the students have improved. Every metric we can use to measure performance in our business school is better today than it was a decade ago. But when we come back 10 years from now, we’re going to say the same thing.”
The Rawls College of Business accounts for about 25 percent of Texas Tech graduates.
The college has a full-time teaching staff of roughly 100 in seven academic areas: accounting; energy, economics and law; finance; health organization management; information systems and quantitative sciences; management; and marketing.
The college offers an accredited weekend MBA for Working Professionals program.
Dedicated to connecting students, alumni and employers, the Career Management Center assists Rawls College students with their transition to the world-of-work, and supplies prospective employers with top-notch candidates, ready to make an immediate contribution.