Texas MBA Alums,
I trust your 2014 is going well. Here in Austin, the class of 2014 is getting set to launch and if the experience of the class of 2013 is any indication, come May they will be well-equipped on their journey to change the world. Last fall, I had the privilege to teach financial accounting to the class of 2015 in a flipped classroom. For me, giving students lectures to review on their own and using classroom time for dynamic, guided group activity was invigorating. We continue to identify pioneering ways to take advantage of rapidly changing technologies and how they can impact our educational objectives. From the success of students in their internship interviewing, our pedagogical innovations have hit the mark in preparing students for a more demanding business environment.
It is an exciting time for the Texas MBA program these days. You can read more about that here. At the top of my list is the design our new MBA building: Robert B. Rowling Hall. For the past year, we've been working with architects, engineers, construction firms, faculty, staff, students, recruiters, and alumni on this transformational initiative. Our plan is to gain approval from the Board of Regents in May to go forward with the project. Construction will launch later in 2014 and we'll move into a new graduate business facility for MBAs in March 2017.

At the beginning of the project, stakeholders came together to establish the vision for the building. We wanted it to reflect our values, support our culture, and help us achieve our aspirations. After a series of visioning sessions, five important themes emerged that now govern our design decisions:

Overlapping communities

Over the next weeks, I'll share a more-detailed definition of each. You'll see how they've guided our process in developing the new building and our thinking about the future of business education. The first is one of my favorites: overlapping communities.

The McCombs School of Business is a network of overlapping communities that includes students from all programs, faculty, staff, and visitors such as alumni, recruiters, interdisciplinary collaborators, and business leaders. Focusing on purposeful interaction, while allowing for spontaneous collaborations, these communities will come together in the new Rowling Hall to network, share ideas, and collaborate. One area of overlap between McCombs communities that is of primary importance is faculty-student interaction. 

The quality of these interactions is a benchmark by which McCombs consistently excels and is highly valued by current and prospective students. Teaching and learning at McCombs is defined by a plurality of pedagogies, refined by individual professors to achieve their ultimate goal of educating business leaders who bring value to society. The new Rowling Hall must support this diverse set of pedagogies, as well as the culture of respect, openness, and innovation that it represents. 

We know that challenges facing business, and the world more generally, will be solved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear on matters of consequence. So, the Texas MBA program brings together students from around the world with a wide variety of backgrounds and a diverse set of professional aspirations. We connect them with each other in cohorts and study teams. We connect students with the class ahead of them and the one that follows. We connect students with alumni. We connect them with faculty. We connect them with recruiters. We connect them with thought leaders from across the campus and the business community. We connect them with influential business leaders abroad through the Global Connections courses.

Rowling Hall is being designed with those overlapping communities in mind. Innovative classrooms are designed to encourage interaction and teamwork. Study rooms, gathering spaces, and lounges are found throughout the building to provide opportunities to exchange ideas and learn. Purposeful interaction, spontaneous collaboration, and thoughtful reflection are supported by the architecture. And, a spectacular special events room and an auditorium designed to hold an entire MBA class afford us the opportunity to host events and for students to interact with the business community, the academic community, and the world community at large.

Sometimes I joke that I don’t want students to leave the building. Don't get me wrong—we want Texas MBAs to get out and share their ideas, expand their horizons and their networks. But when they are in Rowling Hall, we ensure they are in a place where vibrant learning and discovery are commonplace. It will be a place students thrive. It will be a place where Texas MBAs begin their journey to change the world. It’s going to be a heck of a place.

I'll touch base in a week or so with how Rowling Hall will showcase the intellectual contributions that Texas MBAs and the McCombs School of Business are making to society. Until then, all the best and Hook 'em Horns!

Eric Hirst
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs

P.S. - Don't forget to keep your information up to date in the Texas MBA alumni database. You can update it yourself here or you can just hit reply with your contact information and I'll see that it is updated for you.

McCombs School of Business
2110 Speedway, Mail Stop B6006
Austin, Texas 78712-1270

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