University of Delaware
A rendering of the Purnell Hall renovation and expansion.

B-school renovations

Building expansions, new space will transform Lerner College student experience


1:21 p.m., Aug. 26, 2014--From a nearly 8,000-square-foot expansion of Purnell Hall and a brand new location for graduate programs, to information technology improvements and a state-of-the-art classroom addition, the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics is undergoing renovations and construction to provide much needed instructional, office and collaboration spaces for faculty and students.

Construction to the front of Purnell Hall, one of the college’s main buildings, began earlier this summer and will be completed by summer 2015. The extension will more than double the space available for the JPMorgan Chase Innovation Center, the site that is home to a collaboration with UD’s Lerner College, the College of Engineering and JPMorgan Chase. 

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The expanded first floor will feature a 3,131-square-foot space that will house the center, which provides on-campus job opportunities for students and enables UD faculty, UD students and JPMorgan Chase employees to work side-by-side on joint applied research projects.

Other improvements with the Purnell Hall extension include additional room on the second through fourth floors for 20 faculty offices and workspace for 16 graduate students; offices to house the Institute for Financial Services Analytics and graduate students of the doctoral program in Financial Services Analytics; and large and small conference rooms.

Classroom and academic facility updates

The college’s Graduate and Executive Programs (GEP) will be moving to a new location at One South Main Street to better accommodate its growing student body and to provide a variety of resources and support in a more functional space.

“One South Main Street will put students at the center of a vibrant graduate business school and not just a small part of a college that also teaches undergraduates,” said Bruce Weber, dean of the Lerner College. “The building will house our graduate program offices and provide much-needed space for educational collaboration, socializing and afford us flexibility in classroom layout and delivery.“

On the first floor, six collaboration and mentoring rooms will provide space for graduate students to meet with one another as well as recruiters; two state-of-the-art classrooms will provide additional instruction space; and a lounge and Provisions on Demand (POD) market will provide coffee, snacks and a gathering place for students.

The second floor will feature two additional classrooms as well as GEP administrative offices. 

Construction of the new building is nearing the final phases and is expected to be completed in October 2014, with the GEP office moving in late fall and classes offered in the new rooms by spring semester.

In January, the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) also announced a $559,000 commitment from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation to fund the construction of a state-of-the-art classroom addition to the Marriott Courtyard Newark at the University of Delaware, an on-campus hotel facility that also currently serves as a classroom for five HRIM Lodging Module courses.

While the classroom will enable the department to dramatically increase the number of students who can take courses at the hotel, it will also allow more undergraduate classes and graduate and executive education courses to incorporate experiential learning opportunities in the hospitality industry.

A full refurbishment of Vita Nova, the student-managed restaurant run through HRIM, was also made possible through a major gift to the college, the details of which will be announced at the beginning of the fall semester.

Technology improvements

An organizational restructuring and implementation of a new information technology (IT) strategic plan has enabled the college to achieve significant infrastructure upgrades as well.

Earlier this year, the college’s computer labs, technology classrooms and the Lerner College Trading Center received updates, while the college help desk underwent a rebranding as the new “TechDeck.”

“As a leading business school, the Lerner College seeks to provide an environment that best prepares students for careers by emulating business best practices in computing while maintaining academic integrity,” said Barbara Cullis, manager of information technology and research in the Lerner College. “We gathered feedback from faculty and students who use the Lerner labs and used those findings as a driver for many of the recent and upcoming changes.”

In the first two of three phases, those changes included: a complete migration of the lab to UD’s Win Domain; replacement of computers in the Lerner College Trading Center; and a 50-user prototype of a virtual lab environment – made possible through an IT Transformation Grant – designed to enable students to access classroom software at any time from any location for summer coursework.

The third and final phase is currently underway with the addition of Wi-Fi and working spaces in the Purnell patio area, and the evaluation of visual collaboration software for use in conference rooms throughout the college.

In addition to these efforts, the IT group rebranded the college help desk.

“We held a naming contest to encourage student involvement in the technology improvements. Over 150 students submitted more than 300 ideas and ‘TechDeck’ emerged as an easy favorite,” said Michael Evans, computing support specialist and manager of the new TechDeck. “The addition of bright colors, new signage and reconstruction to the room have transformed Purnell 026 to provide an engaging and enjoyable area for Lerner College faculty, staff and students to get support.”

Evans said the TechDeck also values its student workers, who provide front-line support to faculty, staff and students in the college.

Future TechDeck initiatives include developing engaging and collaborative student spaces; implementing new technologies to match the changing paradigm of teaching and learning; and providing superior support to training educators and students as they navigate emerging technologies.

Article by Kathryn Meier

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