Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

New Farmer School Building slated to open summer '09

Laura Bryant

With walls forming on the future east wing and wall pours for the new 500-person auditorium being set, Miami University students can see the continued construction of future home of the Farmer School of Business.

Beginning fall 2009, business students at Miami will no longer be shuffled between two buildings for classes and meetings.

Construction on the new Farmer School Building broke ground Nov. 2, 2006 and is expected to be completed during summer 2009. The new building will be located on the northeast corner of Patterson Avenue and High Street, replacing the former residence hall, Reid Hall.

"The key feature of the new building is that it will provide space that is more appropriate for the way that we teach," explained Alan Oak, assistant dean of external relations for the Farmer School.

Farmer School Dean Roger Jenkins believes that this new space is needed for contemporary learning.

"In today's world there is a lot more team activity, case activity and a lot more active learning where corporate clients are brought into the classroom," he said. "The need for teaching and learning space is high."

Jenkins said that opportunities are currently restrained due to the department being spread out across two buildings.

"The opportunity for cross discipline research and participation is very limited," he said. "It impedes faculty interaction for research and scholarship and that's a big issue."

In addition to more space being needed, Jenkins said that Miami's business school appeal for gaining faculty is low due to the state of the building. He said Miami does not positively compare to what other universities have to offer.

"Competing for faculty is an important issue," he said. "We don't compete very favorably."

Jenkins said the new building is architected to compete against other schools, allowing Miami to draw in and retain more faculty, at the same time blending in with Miami's characteristic red brick campus.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

"I think that it is important to note that when we can see this building and when we designed and we are building it, we weren't competing with buildings on campus," Jenkins said. "We benched marked against buildings that have been built in the last 10 years across the nation."

According to Oaks, improved technology will be a feature in the new building, hoping to improve the "learning experience." Oak said rooms will feature amenities such as computers, instead of just the traditional overhead projector-a staple in many current business classrooms.

The majority of the funds for the Farmer School Building have been privately raised. The new building was named after the largest donor to the business program, Richard T. Farmer, who gave $25 million to the project. But with the total cost at $65 million, funds are still being raised.

"We will expect to raise $50 million in private funds, which is very unusual across campus," Jenkins said. "We are really proud of the fact we have raised that much money from private funds."

According to Jenkins, the rest of the costs will come both from the university budget and the state.

"We anticipate that a number of other private donors will make contributions to cover the cost of the building," Oak said.

Oak said there will be numerous naming opportunities for rooms inside the new building for those who make donations. For example, the dean administrative area will be named after Jim and Amy Miller Chapman, who donated $2 million to the construction.

Maureen Connolly, a recent graduate of Miami who majored in business, said she believes the new construction is important for the business school.

"We are lucky to have it in just two buildings, but I am sure it will be nice to have it all in one building," Connolly said. "You won't have to run between two buildings for classes, but it could have been worse. It will be nice to just have it in one building."

According to Connolly, the limited technology in the current business buildings did make it difficult in class.

"There was one section of technology in the business school, but unless you were in those rooms, you wouldn't even know about it or have access to it," Connolly said. "You had to bring technology from outside."

Connolly said professors and students often had to bring in their own computers to create PowerPoint presentations instead of using a chalkboard or overhead projector.

In addition to the lack of technology, Connolly said space in the lecture halls is limited, "In Laws 100 you're so close to the next person and the desks don't even fit a whole paper," she said.

The new building will contain a lecture hall that will accommodate much larger masses of people.

"There is a 500-seat auditorium in the building," Oak said. "That 500-seat auditorium can be divided into two if you do not need that much space. We clearly have a shortage on campus to hold events of that size."

According to Oak, another feature will include a simulated trading room for students to experience that layout of an actual financial trading floor.

As for the current business buildings, Laws and Upham halls, their uses are being revamped.

According to Claire Wagner, assistant director of university communications, the Brill Science Library and the department of religion and classics, along with other programs, will move to Laws Hall. In addition, mathematics and statistics will move into Upham Hall. Other changes on a smaller scale may possibly occur, she said.