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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published January 09 2011

Concordia business school project a major overhaul

It’s hard to find a word to describe the major construction project that’s in the works at Concordia College.

Officials say they are “repurposing” the Grant Center for the new Offutt School of Business.

But that hardly does it justice.

When the roughly $13 million project is done, the footprint of the building originally used for food service will remain, but nearly everything else will be different.

“The layout bears absolutely no resemblance,” said Greg Cant, dean of the Offutt School of Business.

The roof will be removed and 1 1/2 stories will be added to the two-story building. New windows are being installed, including a front façade of glass.

Cant said the heart of the building will be an atrium. The concept features open space and a lot of natural light.

Construction on the project begins this spring. The facility will be ready for students in fall 2012.

Of the 14 new classrooms in the facility, two will be premier teaching spaces. One will be a board room that will be used for teaching, and the other is a trading lab that will feature cutting-edge technology.

The facility also will have a student-run coffee shop to give students real-world experience, Cant said.

A new building is not the only change in store for the business school.

In September, Concordia officials announced a $50 million fundraising campaign for the business program. They also announced it would be called the Offutt School of Business, named after entrepreneur Ron Offutt, who contributed the lead gift.

Nearly $40 million has been raised toward that goal, Cant said.

That funding will pay for the construction of the building, provide about

$5 million for startup costs to launch a new curriculum, including hiring new faculty.

About $32 million will be used to establish an endowment to support the program.

The curriculum focuses on four key areas: ethics, global business, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Another feature is an entrepreneurship fund that will have students pitch business ideas to an external panel.

Concordia Provost Mark Krejci said the college’s program will be different from other programs because of its emphases on global business and ethics.

“Here, we’re infusing those perspectives throughout all of our courses,” Krejci said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590