In fall of 2018, the business and economics department will have a new home across from the gymnasium.
By Conrad Engstrom
Starting in the fall of 2018, Bethel University’s business department and its 475 students will move from it’s dark corner on the 2nd floor of the Academic Center to the Robertson Center 3rd floor across from the gymnasium.
“Nobody knows that we are here and we are the largest department student-wise on campus,” business department chair Joyce LeMay said.
Construction will start in the spring of this year with the goal to be finished by the start of classes next year. Human resources and financial aid will be moving out of their current homes in the RC third floor to the Anderson Center across Highway 51. The overall cost of the move will be $4 million.
Soon to be right next to the gymnasium, the business department hopes to work with athletics as well to give the business department better exposure and reach more people.
“So many of our students play athletics and it’s exciting to see what our hallways will look like since the athletic department is updating their hallway as well,” LeMay said.
Bethel provost Deb Harless and senior vice president for strategic planning and operational effectiveness, Joe LaLuzerne organized a space planning task force and asked them to launch a campus master plan process to look across the whole institution and focus on where there were space needs for Bethel. When the task force looked at the campus master plan, the two biggest needs for space were the sciences and business and economics.
“When looking at the strategic planning for our institution, we also have to look at how to pay attention to our space,” Harless said. “We wanted to provide more space for the business department, make the space more visible and accessible, and design it in a way that reflected the values of the department.”
The goal was to move the business department as quickly as possible and the space across from the gymnasium seemed to be the most ideal. Because human resources and financial aid do not have much hands-on contact with College Arts and Science students, moving them to the Anderson Center would not be such a burden.
Moving departments costs money, and the $4 million project to move the business department is not coming out of the CAS students tuition money, rather, gifts from university donors and alumni.
Mark Miles, the vice president of advancement at Bethel, helps raise and manage the money that donors give, along with meeting with donors to make sure they keep giving. The $4 million goal to move the business department is just a small piece of the $150 million goal Miles hopes to receive from donors by May 2021.
Miles has received $3.5 million of the $4 million needed to make the business department move a reality. The donations received are close enough to the goal that President Barnes can give the okay to go ahead with the move, confident that the next $500,000 will be in by Dec. 31.
At the end of the day, the business department move will benefit the students at Bethel more than anyone, LeMay says. The space will have smaller offices for faculty, coming from 130 square feet to 91 square feet. Smaller offices leave more room for the students to connect and collaborate with each other. Adding huddle rooms gives classes more places to meet and more business labs give students more places to study. The new space even gives more room for adjuncts which is something that the business department has been lacking.
“We are here for the students,” LeMay said. “And we are excited about that.”