To kick off homecoming weekend, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business celebrated the expansion of the Business School with the new $135 million Jeff T. Blau Hall, featuring two atriums, a courtyard and classrooms connected to the original building through a skywalk.
At a celebration event Saturday, University President Mark Schlissel said the opening would have a profound impact on the future of the Business School and its establishment nationwide. Schissel described the building as a “cathedral of learning,” having the ability to “propel education through the 21st century” with its advanced technology and aesthetics.
“Now we have the benefit of the wonderful new Blau Building, really rounding out (the Business School) as the preeminent business school campus, I think in the United States,” Schlissel said.
Blau, who completed undergraduate studies at the University in 1990, is now the CEO and a partner at Related Companies. He formally opened the hall alongside Stephen Ross, the largest donor in University history, who has given more than $313 million to the Business School and Michigan athletics to date.
While the building opened in August, Saturday's event focused on how Blau Hall has and continues to shape the legacy of the Business School.
Blau said Stephen Ross was instrumental in shaping his and many other alumni’s lives, saying creation of new opportunities was his main motivation for facilitating the new hall’s construction.
“I believe that we all have an obligation to give back or pay it forward, and I couldn’t think of another institution that has had such a profound impact on my life and my career and that had such an ability to change the lives of generations of kids going forward,” Blau said. “Because of all of that, I'm proud to have my name on this building, and I hope that my contribution will allow others to have the same opportunities that I had.”
The formal event was attended by about 75 people, including multiple University regents, three former Business School deans, faculty, alumni and current students. Guests explored the new space and discussed how it will facilitate a broader learning experience.
“There are a lot of nice classrooms and administrative spaces,” Business graduate student Glenn Kozawa said. “It is usually quieter over there, so we enjoy the smaller study spaces.”
In addition to Blau Hall, the event commemorated the 25th anniversary of the University's Multidisciplinary Action Projects course. Businesses sponsor MAP programs that allow teams of first-year MBA students to embark on seven-week, real-world projects. Over the 25 years since MAP’s 1992 launch, more than 10,000 students have worked on more 2,000 projects at major companies, such as Facebook and Amazon.
During their remarks, both Schissel and Business School dean Scott DeRue said they were interested in further propelling Ross to become a prominent business school around the world. DeRue said he hoped hope that the Business School would become a business school “campus,” not just a business school building.
He also stressed that business student wellbeing is ultimately what is most important in determining construction and other projects for the school.
“It’s critical that we create an environment for students where they can study, where they can thrive,” he said.