LINCOLN — A new $84 million headquarters for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Business Administration will be considered Friday by the NU Board of Regents.
The 240,000-square-foot building, to be completed by 2016, would more than double the size of the college’s current home. The building would be financed by private donors who are not identified in the meeting agenda or by University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken.
“This project has attracted significant donor interest and will be another exciting opportunity made possible only because of generous private support,” Milliken told The World-Herald.
A foundation spokeswoman said that donors had indicated they would contribute to the project but that the gifts had not yet been given. An announcement will be made later in the process, she said.
The Board of Regents’ business affairs committee recommended approval.
Milliken lauded the proposal as part of a plan to boost UNL’s enrollment growth. Chancellor Harvey Perlman wants UNL to reach 30,000 students by 2017; that would require an increase of more than 5,000 students.
Milliken said the business college’s “aggressive plans for growth” would be key to supplying the state’s next generation of business leaders. He likened the proposed building to Mammel Hall, the $34 million, state-of-the-art business college that opened at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2010.
Such facilities are increasingly important in the competition to recruit top faculty and staff, he added.
The College of Business Administration has been one of the fastest growing at UNL. Though UNL enrollment as a whole dropped by 1.6 percent this year, this year’s freshman business class grew by 25.4 percent, and total enrollment at the business college grew by 4.5 percent.
In materials submitted to the regents, UNL officials said their goal is to increase business college enrollment from 3,500 students to 5,000.
Donde Plowman, UNL’s College of Business Administration dean, could not be reached Friday.
“The current CBA building is severely undersized to meet the needs of a growing faculty and student population,” the materials said.
The college’s current building is one of the oldest on campus, though it was renovated in 1993. There are no plans to demolish it. Its next use would be evaluated as part of campus master planning already under way.
The new building would be located near 14th and Vine Streets, next to the Kauffman Academic Residential Center, the 2001 facility that houses the Raikes School for Computer Science and Management.
Regents interviewed Friday were generally supportive.
“I do know the number of students enrolled in business administration down in Lincoln certainly warrants a real good look at whatever proposal they’re bringing us,” said Regent Bob Whitehouse of Papillion. “In terms of facilities, curriculum and numbers of students, it’s probably past time.”
Regent Randy Ferlic of Omaha had some misgivings but said he would support the building if funded privately.
“They want a building just like Omaha has — well, who doesn’t?” Ferlic said. “But she (Plowman) has got to find a donor.”
He expressed doubts that UNL or UNO would be able to reach its enrollment goals and said that at some point the university system might have problems with excess capacity.
Clare, a business college alumnus, said he is a “huge proponent” of the new building.
“The College of Business Administration ... is a major player in enrollment growth,” he said. “If we’re going to continue the expertise in management, insurance and actuarial areas ... we need to continue to recruit and retain top-quality faculty and students — and facilities are a part of it.”
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