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UNM’s Anderson School ready for new digs

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Demolition begins on the Robert O. Anderson School of Management on the campus of the University of New Mexico. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The beginning of demolition this week on the University of New Mexico’s nearly 50-year-old Anderson School of Management evoked nostalgia and excitement among long-time professors at the business school.

“It’s somewhat bittersweet to see it disappear,” said Sul Kassicieh, who studied at Anderson in the 1970s and is now a distinguished professor there. “But I’m excited because the old building has lost its functionality. The new one will be much more accommodating of the modern ways we teach today in academia.”

The old, 23,000-square-foot Anderson West building, which opened in 1968 alongside the equally-sized Anderson East facility, is being torn down, allowing for groundbreaking in late January on a modern, 61,000-square-foot facility. The new $25 million building is scheduled to open in mid-2018, with a lot more space for collaborative group learning, community interaction, and career planning and placement services.

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An architectural rendering shows the \”living room\” at the new McKinnon Center for Management, the Anderson School of Management\’s new home at the University of New Mexico. (Courtesy UNM Anderson School of Management)

It will include labs for marketing and behavioral research, business innovation projects and industry recruitment of graduates. The new classrooms will include 21st Century technology, such as digitized lecture boards and movable tables and chairs for working in teams. Modern heating, cooling and lighting systems will cut energy use in half, with plenty of natural light to melt away memories of today’s dreary, cinder-block classrooms.

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“Today’s classes are truly pit rooms surrounded by cinder blocks that create a spartan-looking environment,” said Dean Craig White. “The new building will offer a much more inviting, business-type environment for engaging students.”

That’s critical to prepare them for today’s business world.

(Greg Sober/Albuquerque Journal) Matthew Pickard, assistant professor in accounting at the Anderson School of Management, packs up his office earlier this month. School staff and professors are moving out of Anderson's West building, which is being torn down to make way for a new classroom building.

(Greg Sober/Albuquerque Journal)
Matthew Pickard, assistant professor in accounting at the Anderson School of Management, packs up his office earlier this month. School staff and professors are moving out of Anderson’s West building, which is being torn down to make way for a new classroom building.

“We need to be competitive with other schools,” White said. “We’re behind the curve, and this will move us much higher in the league of business schools to provide all the instruction, career planning and advisement students deserve.”

Although technology for things like video and PowerPoint presentations have been added at Anderson over the years, professors still work on old-fashioned chalk boards in rectangular classrooms with stationary tables and chairs and few Internet connections.

“It’s set up today for the old-fashioned, linear approach to teaching with the professor lecturing in front of a big room,” said marketing professor John Benavidez. “Group projects must be done outside the classroom, but that’s not how students learn and professors teach anymore.”

Today, it’s all about collaborative education, where students and professors get together around tables to work on projects, Benavidez said.

And everyone needs to be digitally connected.

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“Now we’ll have space that’s really upgraded in connectivity,” Kassicieh said. “That means new, improved ways of presenting and working with educational materials.”

Promethean whiteboards will immediately capture and digitize professors’ notes for students, tying class participants together online, White said. Group study rooms will also include walls to write on with the same digital amenities.

The building itself will be ‘L’ shaped, with four stories in the front wing facing Las Lomas Avenue. That will house administrative offices, career services, research labs and group and community activities. The two-story back wing will be filled with classrooms.

The front end will become the main entrance to Anderson, with a spacious, two-story “living room” to welcome people.

“That will serve as a gathering place for events and talks and for students to hang out,” White said.

Eventually, UNM will also replace the Anderson East building, but that will take more funding, said Steven Yourstone, chair of  marketing information and decision sciences who is coordinating the construction project.

The McKinnon family donated $5 million for the forthcoming building, to be named the McKinnon Center for Management. Another $2 million came from interest earnings and other donations, and $18 million from general obligation bonds, paid for with student fees and university revenue.

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