Lehigh’s College of Business is moving forward with plans for expansion as part of phase two in Lehigh’s Path to Prominence initiative.
The new building was previously scheduled to open in fall 2021, but has now been shifted to fall 2022 due to COVID-19 related delays.
The main goal of the new building is to facilitate discovery based learning. The plans for the physical space reflect this goal.
“We are moving beyond the traditional classroom arrangement where the professor stands and talks and the students sit there passively taking notes,” said Georgette Chapman Phillips, dean of the College of Business. “We need to move into a more immersive learning environment and in fact it’s part of our strategic plan that we are going to ask students to take a bigger role in the classroom as partners in their educational experience.”
Phillips said the mantra for the new building has been “flexibility,” both in terms of structure and regarding the delayed construction process.
The new building will include a center for business communications, a behavioral lab, a full production studio, an expanded financial services lab, a room for Bloomberg terminals, two data-analytics rooms and a new business incubator in collaboration with the Baker Institute and an executive education suite.
Patricia Johnson, vice president for Finance and Administration, said she looks forward to the project’s completion.
“I’m excited about the type of classroom space it will give us,” Johnson said.
Brent Stringfellow, university architect and associate vice president of Facilities, said the new building will be between Webster and Taylor Streets in what is currently a parking lot and home to two administrative buildings.
The site is to be fenced off starting April 1 with demolition and construction beginning soon after with the goal of completion for fall 2022.
“The projects that were in construction (phase one) were more straightforward,” Stringfellow said. “With this project we were dealing with a real unknown in terms of that we weren’t sure what the duration of the pandemic was going to be.”
Stringfellow said he also believes the new building will help to relieve pressure on Rauch Business Center and help integrate Lehigh’s campus with the greater South Bethlehem community.
“I think this is really going to help to knit the College of Business, Rauch Business Center and even (Zoellner Arts Center), kind of pulling those into this more coherent experience of being on campus,” Stringfellow said.
The primary funding for the new $38.2 million building comes from donors, most of whom are Lehigh alumni. Its total cost is less than the new College of Health or the new residence halls from phase one.
“To the donors I just have to say a huge thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Phillips said.