By B.C. Manion
An $11 million building going up at Saint Leo University signals the first new classroom building on the campus in decades.
It’s like going from the 1960s to the 21st century in one fell swoop.
School leaders are excited by how they’ll be able to use the latest in technology to better prepare their students to play a meaningful role in their future work places, whether they’re working for an employer or running a business of their own.
“On a very basic level, it will give us the physical resources we need,” said Michael Nastanski, dean of the Donald R. Tapia School of Business at Saint Leo University.
Burgeoning growth during the past decade has forced the business school to use every bit of classroom and office space available on the Saint Leo campus, Nastanski said.
“We’re the largest Catholic business school in the United States,” he said. Besides its Saint Leo campus, the university has 17 regional education centers and the Center for Online Learning.
The new business building will allow the university to bring all of its business students and faculty members on the Saint Leo campus under one roof.
Beyond pulling people together, the building itself is designed to foster collaboration and creativity, Nastanski said.
It has many gathering places, where faculty members can discuss ideas and where faculty members and students can continue discussions that began in the classroom.
The building’s technology will enable students to work together on projects and then share their results with the class, Nastanski said.
The technology used in today’s workplace is one of the huge drivers of change, said Lorrie McGovern, who joined the university in October as head of graduate programs in the school of business.
The building’s technology enables students to hear and see lectures being delivered by experts at one of the university’s satellite locations.
The building also is designed to accommodate gatherings with corporate leaders and economic development groups, such as the Pasco Economic Development Council.
Such exchanges can be very beneficial to students, as well as to companies seeking future employees to join their team, McGovern said.
It also is enabling the university to add a computer science program, Nastanski said.
The new structure adds 50,000 square feet to the university’s main campus. It includes nine classrooms, a large lecture hall which doubles as a boardroom, computer labs and a broadcast technology suite.
Nastanski said he can’t wait for the building to open. He believes it will help the university prepare graduates to be innovative thinkers who are capable of helping their future employees or their own businesses to use technology to reduce costs, increase revenue and improve customer service.
The university’s school of business bears the name of Donald R. Tapia, an alumnus who donated $4 million for the building, the largest single gift in the university’s history.
Tapia received a bachelor’s degree in business administration through the Center for Online Learning at the university and returned for an online MBA.
Before McGovern joined Saint Leo, she said she was looking at the university’s website and read about Tapia’s donation. Tapia grew up in a rough neighborhood in Detroit and now owns a multi-million dollar wholesale business outside of Phoenix. McGovern said she was impressed that an adult, online graduate had made such a large contribution. Those kinds of donations are rare, she said.
“I thought, ‘Wow, something exciting is going on,’ ” McGovern said.
The plans for the building are impressive, she said. “That’s what you see,” she said.
But it was the camaraderie and culture that could lead to such a gift that drew McGovern to Saint Leo.
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