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BSU business college meets funding goal

Boise State University

Boise State University has thrown a lot of effort behind making its College of Business and Economics into a nationally ranked program.

With 3,300 students, the college is among just 20 percent of U.S. business programs which hold the AACSB “gold standard” of accreditation. Next year it will be included in the Princeton Review’s list of top business schools.

And soon it will have a building befitting those accomplishments.

University officials told the Idaho Business Review on Jan. 6 that the school had met its Dec. 31, 2009 deadline to meet a $5 million match from the Micron Foundation for construction of the new COBE building, to be located on the corner of Capitol Boulevard and University Drive.

That $10 million, combined with a $7.5 million gift from the foundation last year, puts the new building on track for a spring 2010 groundbreaking. Construction on the $35 million project is expected to take two years.

“It’s been under a lot of thought and development for a long time, but it’s been real serious for the past two years,” said COBE Dean Patrick Shannon. “It’s been a great team effort here, and we do appreciate the support of everybody that’s stepped up and invested in the building.”

Over 750 donors pitched in with gifts ranging from $100 to $500,000 – even including individuals and companies with no direct connection to Boise State.

“It’s just been amazing,” Shannon added.

The four story, 110,000-square-foot building will feature state-of-the-art technology, a 250-seat lecture hall, a student commons area that includes food service, 32 team rooms, a boardroom, and a financial technology classroom and financial trading room.

The new building will also house the COBE Business Research and Economic Development Center, the Idaho Small Business Development Center, TechHelp, the Centre for Creativity and Innovation and the Center for Entrepreneurship.

A building contractor hasn’t been announced yet, but officials are preparing to put the project out for bids. Shannon said construction is expected to cost around $28 million and be paid for with a combination of student-backed bonds and private funding – a key factor in getting the project off the ground amid tight state budgets.

“If this project had been financed with state tax money then we probably wouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “We have a partnership between the private sector and the students – it takes the taxpayer out of the direct equation.”

Ongoing maintenance costs will be lessened as well, owing to Boise-based Hummel Architects, which designed the building to use 40 percent less energy than a comparable structure by incorporating features such as geothermal energy for heating, and ample natural light.

“I just can’t say how pleased I am with how this is coming around,” Shannon said, referring to Hummel’s designs. “I was really pleased with how it looks. It’s just going to be a statement-building for that corner.”

The location – at the western entrance of the university – will make the college more accessible to Boise area businesses, and bringing all of Boise State’s business research and support programs under one roof will help ratchet up community engagement efforts, Shannon said.

“It’s going to give us greater flexibility and the ability to do things the way we’ve always wanted,” he said.

When the current building was constructed 40 years ago COBE had around 1,000 students and technology was not a part of the curriculum. Today the college has more than tripled in size and students are just as likely to work collaboratively over the Internet as sit in a lecture hall.

“The new facilities themselves will allow us to teach in different ways and students to learn in different ways,” added Shannon. “To have a facility that’s on par with the programs, students, faculty and staff that we have here is really important.”

About Zach Hagadone

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