Getting Down To The Business Of Education

When the new Jerry S. Rawls College of Business Administration opened its doors to students for the spring 2012 semester, students were expecting a new building, but not everything else that came with it.

Administrators are calling the new building Rawls 2.0 because of the increased technology and upgrades from the old building.

All the college ambassadors were on hand at the grand opening Friday, Feb. 3 to give tours of the new BA.

The BA was designed to give undergraduate and graduate students different experiences while in school.

For example, the lower level is for undergraduate students and has wireless Internet in all classrooms. The second floor houses five tiered classrooms, used for graduate classes, and each seat is wired for power and Internet.

Jade Shank, a junior marketing and management major and college ambassador, said the building is student friendly.

“The Wi-Fi is probably the best on campus,” Shank said.

Wi-Fi is also available in the outdoor courtyard and can hold up to 200 students on its server. Another technology perk featured in the new BA is a Dot camera that shows students what a teacher is doing through video.

“It’s an up-to-date type of learning,” Shank said. “It has been beneficial because you can go back and look at the lecture when you get home.”

Dave Dawson, director of computing, said the Dot cameras are great for students and teachers.

“With 15 minutes left of class, the lecture is available online,” Dawson said. “We found that students’ notes were more organized and concise.”

At the grand opening, Dawson gave a brief presentation to tour groups on the technology throughout the building. Classroom doors have computer screens to display class schedules and if needed, emergency notifications.

“If something were to happen on campus, like a shooting or emergency,” Dawson said, “I have the power to take over every computer screen in the building to notify students and faculty.”

The biggest screen in the building is in room 105, a 250-seat auditorium with movie theater style seating. The screen is 10-by-16 feet with resolution higher than high-definition.

Dawson said he likes the room.

“The architects did a good job with this room,” Dawson said. “This stuff is dynamite.”

The plans for the new building had a budget of $70 million.

Debra Laverie, senior associate dean, said most of the money was comprised of private donations.

“We finished $6.5 million under budget,” Laverie said. “The remainder of the money went to the students.”

Laverie said students paid a small portion of the budget, $11 per credit hour. With all the money going into the new building, Laverie said, she hopes the college will grow. The college currently has 3,600 undergraduate and 700 graduate students enrolled.

“We could go up to 4,000 undergraduates,” Laverie said.

Space for all the students was a problem before.

“In the old building there was no seating in the hallway or no common areas,” Laverie said.

There are now two eating establishments and several common areas that provide an incentive for students to stay in the building while on campus, Laverie said, which is also like a normal business.

Something else that many students and faculty on campus may not know about is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification the building currently possesses.

LEED is based on a point system and those points are added to make certain levels, such as platinum, gold and silver. The BA received a silver-level certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Laverie said the university is trying for a gold certification level.

“We are comfortable with silver,” Laverie said, “but we have a good shot at gold.”

The environmentally friendly initiative started with Thompson and Gaston Hall being torn down in 2008 and 96 percent of those buildings being reused. The waste was separated into metals and woods. The bricks were then crushed and formed the foundation to the new BA.

“It was costly,” Laverie said, “but it was the right thing to do.”

There are many qualifications to becoming LEED-certified. Some of the environmentally friendly features in the BA are the floors and countertops that were made from recycled glass.

“The windows are made to let in more light, but keep outside temperatures from coming in,” Laverie said.

Also, all the lights in the classrooms go on when they are in use and off when the room is unoccupied. The plumbing uses less water and when it rains, the water is recaptured from the building and piped back into the water system.

“Seven years ago the Board of Regents wanted a new building and the Dean raised the money,” Laverie said. “There is just no comparison to this building.”

by Jessica Temple
Contributed to The Hub by Jour 4350 and TexasTechToday.com 

About Jessica Temple
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