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Ryan Johnson, Published January 17 2013

VIDEO: Concordia unveils new business school

MOORHEAD – Concordia College’s newest school is open for business after a complete overhaul and the addition of a new floor to a former dining services building.

College officials held a news conference and tour Thursday in the renovated Grant Center on the southeast corner of campus, the new home of the Offutt School of Business that President William Craft said rises from Concordia’s “deeply rooted identity” as a global liberal arts college of the church.

“The curriculum here is one international in scope, designed to foster in our students critical thinking, creative synthesis and compelling communication skills, devoted to the conviction that the work of business is inseparable from responsible citizenship and the common good,” he said.

Craft said the school’s namesake – Ron Offutt, a 1964 Concordia graduate and founder and chairman of Fargo-based RDO Equipment Co. – was unable to attend because of injuries he suffered in a fall on Tuesday. Offutt is “recovering nicely,” Craft said, but

couldn’t be at the event.

Craft said Offutt would have said the school resulted from a vision generated at a meeting of college board members in June 2007. They wanted to transform Concordia’s business program into its own undergraduate business school that would develop the kind of global leaders needed today.

“Mr. Offutt would tell us that this transformed Grant Center will be an extraordinary environment for the transformation of our students who will become the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders,” Craft said.

Dean Greg Cant said repurposing the Grant Center, including the addition of a new top floor, resulted in a 55,000-square-foot facility that boasts 14 classrooms with movable furniture and modern features. The building also has an energy-efficient design that puts it on track to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Construction on Barry Auditorium in the Grant Center is expected to be completed in April, wrapping up the $16.2 million renovation project that began in June 2011. Students first began using the facility Jan. 9 at the start of the spring semester.

Cant said the large building was designed to remain well-lit with plenty of windows and skylights, even in the centralized Marcil Atrium – named for the support of Forum Communications Co. Board Chairman William Marcil and the Marcil family – that overlooks a large student commons area.

Once final touches are complete, the building will feature a student-run coffee shop and plenty of office and board room space designed to help connect students with jobs, contacts and possible future careers with business leaders from the region.

“While the grandeur of this environment is so vivid – this truly is a beautiful place – it’s also important to note that the heart of the program that the Offutt School provides is actually about our curriculum and is about the faculty and staff who offer that program,” Cant said. “It is an opportunity for students to work with the best we can develop for undergraduate education.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587