Luke Schrum | Staff Writer
As technology and business continue to evolve and advance, the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business has been striving to match and exceed the pace of change. Through continued renovations on Rockwell Hall, home to the School of Business, it looks to maintain and further its competitiveness against other business schools and in the outcomes of its graduates.
Renovations on Rockwell Hall have been ongoing since 2013, when projects began to modernize the class space in the building, floor by floor. Floors 3, 4 and 5 have already been renovated, but the project set to begin later this spring on the sixth floor is larger in scale, according to Jennifer Grab Milcarek, program director of the Investment Center in the School of Business.
“The last major renovation for the Investment Center was more than 15 years ago, but enrollments have kicked up over the last 10 years,” Milcarek said.
The need for more functional classroom and lab space in Rockwell is the result of years of program growth. The age of the program also presented a need for modernization.
“Our Investment Center was established in 1998, one of the first five in the nation, and the age of the equipment and space usage isn’t conducive to efficient learning,” Milcarek said.
Donations and grants totaling more than $7.5 million will help to entirely transform the sixth floor — primarily the Centers of Excellence in business ethics, investment management and sustainable business innovation will see change. Much of the funding for the renovations has come from outside sources which will allow for the implementation of new programming.
“A lot of the new spaces have been named or sponsored and there are many new programs that will be able to happen with the new facilities and funding,” Milcarek said. “Our Student Managed Investment Funds and Duquesne Asset Management Group have been working with and cultivating funds in different focus areas for decades,” she added.
The renovations will primarily affect business students, but much of the new equipment is cross-curricular for students interested in what the centers have to offer.
“One of our hallmarks is that we’re not just for finance students, we have management marketing, ethics, graduate, undergraduate … any student can come in and we’ll show you how to use the software. The experience is open to any business major, but many students in other majors have an interest in investing and the business side of their future profession,” Milcarek said.
“I think the renovation will brighten up a space that’s uninviting and create a new area that will promote more student networking,” freshman business major Stephanie Rosendale said.
The sixth floor is also the location of the Rockwell Hall Skywalk, which connects the building with the Bluff. As the skywalk is a major point of entry for Rockwell, the renovation project plans to rebuild the skywalk and create an atrium space to welcome students and visitors to the building and center of the School of Business.
Though renovations to the sixth floor will be comprehensive, project completion is scheduled for late summer to mitigate the effect of construction on students.
“The timeline for finishing is late August or September, but our operations will be moved to the fourth floor and we have contingency plans if the renovation gets behind schedule,” Milcarek said.
Reflecting on the projects at Rockwell Hall that have been and will be completed in the near future, Milcarek believes the space will better represent the School of Business and its graduates.
“We’re at the starting gate and being held back by the space we’re in. We have lots of opportunities for things we can do after the renovation. The space isn’t as important as what you’re doing well, but the space should reflect what is being done well,” Milcarek said.