The Need for a New Space

When Gerry Patnode, PhD, and his colleagues in the Department of Business Administration gathered last summer to develop a strategic plan for their department, they identified three goals:

  • reinvigorate the academic program;
  • focus on the department’s strengths, which they identified as experience-based learning for students and a strong relationship with the local community; and
  • address the department’s facility weaknesses, which were perceived to be hampering growth and development.

“Our academic program is built around applied, hands-on education,” Patnode said. “However, the facilities to do that were lacking. The mindset of the department was to build a business program that is first choice for prospective students. We knew we wouldn’t become that without being first class as well.”

The College had identified the need to address the shortcomings of the current Business Administration Center as well as other academic buildings in its 2002-2007 Long Range Plan. The Business Administration Center was built in 1989, and as the newest of the academic buildings on campus, was scheduled last for renovation, according to President George Waldner, PhD.

“Through strategic planning that goes back a number of years, we wanted to give each academic department a home base, a ‘living room,’ if you will, where the faculty and students could be comfortable, which they could identify as their own space. We will have done that for nine departments by Summer 2011, and Business Administration will finish out the cycle the following year.”

The College brought RLPS, a Lancaster, Pa.-based architectural firm that has worked on more than 25 projects on campus, on board this summer to develop plans for a new or renovated building. After some discussions of other possible locations, the architects and campus leaders agreed on plans that call for a five-story addition to the rear of the current Business Administration Center. The new facility will be about 46,000 square feet in size, triple the size of the current building.

“We chose this site because it is a position of prominence on campus,” said Craig Walton of RLPS. “This new facility will provide a gateway between the North Campus – and Northside Commons – and the center of campus through pedestrian walkways. The building configuation and placement will make a welcoming gesture for those entering campus from the north.”

As with other academic construction projects developed by RLPS and the College, the focus of the new business facility is on creating spaces where students do things, according to Dominic DelliCarpini, PhD, dean of academic affairs. “The Nursing Education Center has simulated hospital room settings where students ‘practice’ on patient simulators; Wolf Hall has a television studio where students can actually go on set and create a show; and in the lab spaces available in the sciences programs, students are actively involved in getting an education. A quality academic building isn’t just about the physical space, it’s also about the movement and the motive. Imagine what our business students will be able to accomplish in a new finance or operations management lab that is designed and built specifically to provide them an active, hands-on learning environment.”

Meeting the Needs of a Growing Academic Program

In addition to their strategic plan, Patnode and his colleagues also created a facilities position statement that spelled out what they believed was needed in a new building. The facility had to meet the needs of the department, its students, and the local business community. 

The Business Administration department is the largest aca-demic program at York College, with 900 or so students taking classes taught by 28 full-time and 38 adjunct faculty members. Business majors make up 23 percent of the total student population, yet there is only one classroom in the current facility that is dedicated solely to the program.

Nine new smart classrooms with seating for 40, as well as labs for students enrolled in finance and operations management courses, will be available when the new building is completed. “The new facility will provide flexible teaching space with a very corpor-ate look,” DelliCarpini said. “Wherever students travel in this facility – from the classroom to conference rooms and labs – they will be exposed to a professional atmosphere.” In addition, a 150-seat lecture hall with step seating and “excellent acoustics and sight lines” will provide space for “lots of team teaching and combining classes for speakers,” according to Patnode. “This auditorium will also serve a great purpose for formal and informal student events, both for business students and other majors,” said DelliCarpini. “Providing more student space gives them a real sense of ownership of the building.”

As the Business Administration department strives to fulfill its strategic planning goal of enhancing its academic program, it has revamped some programs and expanded its offerings, particularly in the areas of lean studies, quality improvement, supply chain management (the newest major), and marketing.

“In addition to reinvigorating its academic program,” DelliCarpini said, “the department has a solid footing for its expanding role on campus through a number of exciting initiatives like the Mentor Network, which features experiential collaborations between local industry and York College students, and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) program, which features programs like York College in the City and mission trips to El Salvador.”

As a result of growth in both the classroom and in other academic opportunities, several new faculty members were brought on board last year.  That poses a problem with the current facility, which does not provide adequate classroom space, faculty offices or meeting/conference areas.

“Our faculty are spread all over campus,” Patnode said. “We have no ‘home base’ that would allow for spontaneous collaboration. We experienced the advantage of that – being together in one place – this summer when the group was gathered to discuss the needs for the new building.”

The new facility will add offices, as well as break-out rooms and collaborative research areas for faculty. “Despite our current location, the faculty have cranked out an incredible amount of published work,” Patnode said. “They’re an impressive group. Some in the operations management area – like professors Marco Lam, Dave Greisler, Nate Palmer, Ben Neve and Andy Sumutka – are nationally recognized. This new facility will allow us to maintain our strong competitive edge when it comes to faculty recruitment and retention.”

Welcoming the Local Business Community

Virtually all of the faculty in the Business Administration department have both academic credentials and industry experience, according to Patnode. For example, he and Jefrey Woodall, both assistant professors of marketing, bring to the classroom nearly 50 years of marketing experience. “With connections like these, we bring local business and industry on campus all the time,” he said. “It’s important to our culture that our students become exposed to business activity and to business professionals.”

That’s an ongoing challenge, according to DelliCarpini. “The Business Administration department’s strategic plan calls for a continued strong connection with the business community,” he said. “There’s very little room to do so with the current facility. As more community and faculty become involved with the department’s Mentoring Program and other valuable initiatives, like SIFE, students will have access to and be surrounded by professionals. This will provide a larger sense of community and identity for the program.”

The new facility will provide a number of opportunities to better host the local business community. In addition to the new auditorium, the building is “capped by a multipurpose space that can be set up banquet style with round tables and includes a food service area,” said Craig Walton. “Great views of the city to the north and east will be available in the glass-enclosed room as well as from protected outside terraces.”

Having an appropriate space to host events for up to 300 people, with the opportunity for food and break-out rooms, is crucial not only to the success of the Business Administration department but also to the local economy, according to Patnode. “Schools of business are traditionally important cogs in the economic development of a region,” he said. “We need to be that cog here in York County.  We have a role in attracting business, keeping business here, and growing new business.”?

From Plans to Construction

Check out the Department of Business Administration for more information on the construction of the new site.