groundbreaking for College of Business building

The groundbreaking for the new College of Business building was held Thursday, May 20, 2021. The ceremony ushered in new era of teaching and learning at Lehigh.

Lehigh Breaks Ground on New College of Business Building

Formal ceremony marks college expansion and ushers in new era of teaching and learning.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Christa Neu

Lehigh formally broke ground Thursday on a new 74,000-square-foot College of Business building that will be infused with technology and provide students and faculty with flexible, collaborative spaces for learning, teaching and research. The building also will be the new home of the Vistex Institute for Executive Learning and Research.

“The beauty of the building is not in the limestone and mortar, although it is gorgeous,” Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, told members of the Lehigh community at the outdoor ceremony. “It is in its interactivity, in its capacity for motion and momentum, and in what it means for our students as they are embarking on their business education and discovering their careers.”

Rising on Packer Avenue between Taylor and Webster streets, the new three-story, four-floor structure is expected to open in Fall 2022. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in 2020 but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The building will accommodate classes in the College's undergraduate and graduate programs and provide 16 additional teaching spaces. It also will provide space for an expanded Bosland Financial Services Lab, Data Analytics Lab, Rauch Media and Communications Lab, Behavioral Lab and a business innovation/incubator space for entrepreneurial exploration. 

Among the features will be classrooms with moveable walls that will allow for simulations, case study presentations and hackathon events. Also, labs will be equipped with multiple large screens for instructor use, and specialized group tables will have individual student monitors. Newly configured smart spaces will support faculty research and teaching. 

“Our new building reflects Lehigh Business and Lehigh University—not just who we are, but our commitment to what we want to become. We want to become a college that is breaking boundaries at the intersection of business and technology. We want to be driving high-impact, interactive learning experiences. We want to embrace the change that we want to see together with our students, our faculty and our community,” Phillips said.

College of Business rendering

A rendering of the new College of Business building

The new building will sit catty-corner to the Rauch Business Center, which will be expanded and renovated at a future date. The site previously held a parking lot and three buildings. 

Phillips, whose area of scholarly research is real estate, noted that buildings give physicality to a community’s goals and aspirations. As beautiful as the new structure will be, she said however, “the joy of our new building goes beyond structure. For me, it symbolizes how we are embracing new ways to engage business students, business leaders and business faculty.”

Phillips pointed to transformations she has seen in the business world. At one time, businesses were hierarchical, with information moving up and down the chain of command. But, she said, employees often felt disconnected from goals and outcomes. Later, businesses “flattened out,” allowing employees to have a say in all matters, but she said that didn’t work either. 

“Today, we’re discovering that the most innovative and successful companies are inclusive, adaptive and disruptive,” Phillips said. “That’s what we are teaching our students to be, and we are doing it in immersive and experiential settings.”

Lehigh Provost Nathan Urban opened the groundbreaking ceremony, which was live streamed. In-person attendance was limited in accordance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

“It’s great to be together to celebrate the progress on the new business building with this groundbreaking and look ahead to the promise and impact this building will have for Lehigh, our community, and our world,” Urban said. 

The expansion project was made possible as a result of donors who have expressed confidence in the future of the College of Business and whose gifts are funding the project. 

This new building will enable Lehigh to achieve new heights with state-of-the-art technology, dynamic physical learning spaces, new interactive remote capabilities and much, much more.  

Lehigh Trustee Jeffrey Bosland ’88 ’22P

Phillips thanked the donors for their generosity in helping to make the building a reality, and President John D. Simon ‘19P and Board of Trustees Chair Kevin L. Clayton ’84 ’13P for their partnership and support of “this vision.”  She held up a piece of limestone, indicating that the limestone that will be used in the building comes to Lehigh through a Lehigh MBA alumnus in Indiana. Among the donors in attendance were Sanjay Shah ’89MBA, whose early contributions established the Vistex Institute, and Ted Walsh ’88, who will have a classroom-in-the-round in the building named in recognition of his generosity. 

In his remarks, Lehigh Trustee Jeffrey Bosland ’88 ’22P, senior managing director of the Financial Institutions Group at Cerberus, told attendees that his Lehigh education “meant so much in my life” and provided him with the foundational tools in finance, accounting, marketing and management that he needed to succeed in the business world. Bosland earned a finance degree at Lehigh; his son Andrew is a current student. 

A champion of the College of Business and a first-generation student, Bosland was instrumental in establishing Lehigh’s first Financial Services Lab in the Rauch Business Center. In recognition of his and his wife Debra’s support, the expanded lab in the new building will be named the Bosland Financial Services Lab.

Over the course of his career, Bosland told attendees, the world of finance has continuously become more globally connected, with new and enhanced skill sets needed all the time. He said the College of Business has advanced too, providing students with the data and technology skills and the global perspective needed to keep pace with an increasingly complex business world.

“This new building,” he said, “will enable Lehigh to achieve new heights with state-of-the-art technology, dynamic physical learning spaces, new interactive remote capabilities and much, much more.”  

Bosland, along with President Simon and speaker Christopher Scott ’94, managing director at Morgan Stanley, commended Phillips for her vision and leadership. “She is a bold, unflappable leader, and her passion for this project shows,” said Scott, a champion of the College. A classroom in the new building will be named in recognition of Scott's generosity.

COB Dean Georgette Chapman Phillips address attendees

Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, said the beauty of the new building "is in its interactivity, in its capacity for motion and momentum, and in what it means for our students as they are embarking on their business education and discovering their careers.”

McKay Price, who holds the Collins-Goodman Chair in real estate finance at Lehigh and who is the director of the Goodman Center for Real Estate, said Phillips had approached him in 2015 about forming and leading a task force charged with examining the College’s space needs and brainstorming what would be needed in the new building. 

Since the Rauch Business Center opened in 1991, the College of Business has seen significant growth. Enrollment has increased 43 percent, faculty has increased 38 percent and new programs, including a FinTech minor and executive education, have been added. 

“We knew we needed space,” he said, “but not just any space; we sought to create the best space for teaching, research and service for the foreseeable, and to the extent possible, the unforeseeable future.”

He said the process included surveys and focus groups with students, faculty and staff, as well as discussion with alumni, industry professionals and parents.

Watch a livestream of the construction site at stream.lehigh.edu

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Christa Neu

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