College of Business beam signing.

Forefront, from right, Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business, President Joseph J. Helble '82 and Provost Nathan Urban were among those who attended an on-site beam signing for the new College of Business expansion.

More Than 1,500 Sign Beam for New College of Business Building

The beam will be raised into place Nov. 8 and filmed as part of the College of Business video series.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Christa Neu

Using black Sharpie markers, members of the Lehigh community left their signatures on a pristine white beam that will soon join the 468 tons of structural steel comprising the expanded College of Business.

The beam signing marked a milestone in the expansion, which is part of Lehigh’s Path to Prominence initiative to add more scholars and spark innovation. More than 30 people signed the beam in person at the site on Thursday, while another 1,500 submitted virtual signatures that will be added before the beam is hoisted into place Nov. 8.

“We will be educating our students in a building with cutting-edge technology and exciting, beautiful, new learning spaces,” said Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business.

The building that’s catty corner to the Rauch Business Center will accommodate 16 additional teaching spaces for both undergraduate and graduate programs, all equipped for remote and hybrid learning. There will also be an expanded Financial Services Lab, a Data Analytics Lab and a Rauch Media and Communications Lab to support oral, written and digital communications classes.

Students sign beam at College of Business.

Students Gabrielle Effendi '22, Maytal Balaish '22 and Nicole ElChaar '22 sign the beam at the new College of Business expansion.

A Behavioral Lab will allow for observation and subject interviews, and there will be a business innovation/incubator space for entrepreneurial exploration. The building also will be the new home of the Vistex Institute for Executive Learning and Research.

“I think the expansion will provide a really great set of spaces for the College of Business to be even more interdisciplinary and form even more connections across campus,” said Provost Nathan Urban. “It will be a great opportunity for us to bring people together, to look to expand–especially our graduate programs–given the new space, and the kind of space.”

The building will have areas that make it easier for students to collaborate, Urban explained. It will also put the focus on technology in business.

“Certainly, every business in the country right now is being transformed through technology, and that’s something we want to make sure students are well-prepared for,” Urban said. “I think that’s going to be critical for us going forward in terms of recruiting students who recognize that and want to be part of it.”

Beam signing.

Nikoleta Kalahanis, assistant director of finance and administration, signs the beam for the new College of Business expansion.

Construction on the 74,000-square-foot expansion began in the spring. Plans for the building have been underway for six years. They received final approval from the Board of Trustees in February 2020, but the pandemic pushed construction back one year.

The three-story, four-floor building is anticipated to open in the fall. It was made possible as a result of donors who have expressed confidence in the future of the college and whose gifts are largely funding the project.

“It’s a great symbol of forward progress and gives us a real sense that the end of construction is not far down the road,” said President Joseph J. Helble ’82 during Thursday’s beam signing. “Within a year we will be in a position to occupy the building and give students access to state-of-the-art classrooms and learning spaces.”

The additional space means even more Lehigh students, including those from outside the College of Business, will be able to take advantage of the college’s programming, he said.

The expansion will add to the Rauch Business Center, which opened in 1991. Since Rauch opened, the College has seen a 43% increase in enrollment and 38% increase in faculty. New programs and courses of study have been added, including a FinTech minor, interdisciplinary initiatives majors and executive education.

“We’ve been bursting at the seams in Rauch for many years,” said McKay Price, who holds the Collins-Goodman Chair in Real Estate Finance and is the director of the Goodman Center for Real Estate. He was one of the faculty members who in 2015 joined the initial committee looking at ways to expand the College of Business..

The new building will have features that include  classrooms with expansive whiteboard spaces and overhead projectors, and a round classroom where students can sit facing each other. 

“Imagine taking a negotiations course where instead of sitting in a typical classroom, you are sitting in a circle facing each other and fostering conversation,” Price said. “It will be a nice addition to have.”

Progress on the new business building can be viewed here.

College of Business beam signing.

Members of the campus community participated in an on-site beam signing for the new College of Business expansion.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Christa Neu

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