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An Investment in Bethel’s Future

The new home of Bethel’s undergraduate Department of Business and Economics offers ample space for students and the department to grow.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

July 25, 2018 | 2:30 p.m.

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A New Space for the Department of Business and Economics

The new home of Bethel’s undergraduate Department of Business and Economics offers ample space for students and the department to grow.

Department Chair and Associate Professor of Business Joyce LeMay uses the word “home” often when describing the new 7,000-square-foot Department of Business and Economics area in the highly-visible Robertson Center’s (RC) third floor.

“This feels like an incredible home for us,” LeMay says. “When I walk in, I feel that we’re sending an incredible message about who we are and how we can serve our students. We are here to serve, and we want out students to know that every day. I get excited about that.”

In mid-June, the department’s 15 full-time faculty and two staff members—who are typically joined by eight to 12 adjunct professors—began moving into the new state-of-the-art space, where they can serve students in a welcoming atmosphere that includes opportunities for hands-on, interactive learning and collaboration. Faculty even unanimously agreed to move to smaller offices to allocate more room for students.

To LeMay and her staff, it represents a major upgrade for the university’s largest department—in terms of enrollment—which offers 10 majors and three minors and includes more than 450 students. “Current students should see this as a place for them to come in and work with each other and work with faculty on an ongoing basis,” LeMay says. “…They’ll know that if they’re in this department, this is their home; it’s a safe place to be; it’s an encouraging place to be. They can ask tough questions and they’ll continue to learn and grow. We want them to be using this department on an ongoing basis with classmates, faculty, staff, alumni, and employers.”

Students will enter into an open central area that’s higher-energy with high-top tables, couches, and various work areas. An area in back offers students a quieter atmosphere, more like a lounge or coffee shop with booths and tables. Students and faculty can also meet in three huddle rooms.

One centerpiece is the hands-on Thrivent Asset Management Financial Markets Lab, where students can access live financial data. There’s a ticker tracker for real-time financial market updates, a Smart Board, three monitors, and computers. Another component of the space is a dedicated classroom featuring a Smart Board, whiteboards on all four walls, and computer screens on three walls—all to spark interactive learning for up to 32 students.

“We are trying to reach different learning styles and teach with an interactive, engaging classroom. The classroom is designed to meet those needs and students are excited to learn using many different teaching tools.”

— Joyce LeMay, Department Chair and Associate Professor of Business

LeMay says these features enable faculty to embrace innovative, interactive teaching styles. Classes can engage in group activities at the various whiteboards and screens, where students can run simulations and discuss lessons and reading assignments. “We are trying to reach different learning styles and teach with an interactive, engaging classroom,” LeMay says. “The classroom is designed to meet those needs and students are excited to learn using many different teaching tools.”

The university is trending toward more interactive, hands-on learning environments, but Director of Facilities Technical Operations Glenn Hofer says the business and economics department takes it to a new level. “This one here is kind of all in, all out,” he says.

“The other thing that space will do is sell itself,” Hofer adds. “It is a great feature for the organization as well.”

To Vice President for Facilities and Technology Mark Posner, the department’s new home represents the university’s dedication to its largest department. “It’s an amazing space,” he says. “It’s some of the most amazingly transformed space that I’ve been a part of, and it’s really the result of faculty in the business and economics department not only being a very responsible group but also a very innovative group.”

The $4 million project—which included new offices for marketing, financial aid, admissions, human resources, and business and economics—came in below budget, allowing for additional work to reinvigorate the RC hallway on the third floor with new carpet, paint, lights, and ceiling work. Monitors will be added and some landscaping work will be done outside. “It’ll feel like the entire third floor of RC is completely transformed, wall to wall, top to bottom,” Posner says, adding: “Now when you walk in, it’s going to feel almost like a new building.”

Though many are excited about the new space, one element is missing: students. Posner notes it’s not complete because it’s yet to be seen how the space will function once students return for the fall semester. “You need to see the interactions and you need to hear the stories—that takes about a year,” he says.

LeMay agrees, noting she’s excited for students to arrive and help the department grow in ways staff and faculty couldn’t have even imagined. The department formed a Visionary Guide to help go above and beyond the department’s vision and mission to enhance the culture through the move. “It’s going to take time to continue to build the culture, which is really building it around the students and faculty engagement,” LeMay says, adding that includes engagement with people outside the department.

LeMay says her team wants prospective students to see the space and be wowed. “We think that prospective students will see this as a great opportunity for them,” LeMay says. The department’s new home comes with additional offices to allow for growth, which will in turn help Bethel grow. “Our growth helps everybody,” LeMay says. “So we want to make sure that we understand that we are just part of a great university, and we want to grow. So we’re ready to grow.”

See the New Home of Undergraduate Business and Economics Programs

The department will host several open houses for various groups to see the space starting in August. They will include:

  • Open house for all employees from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on August 14,
  • Open houses for current students from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. on August 28,
  • Open house for all employees from 11 a.m. to noon on August 30, and
  • Open for alumni from 10 to 11:15 a.m. on October 6 during Homecoming. Also, the department will host a tent during the football game at Royal Stadium from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Business and Economics at Bethel

The Department of Business and Economics is Bethel's largest undergraduate department, offering ten majors and four minors. In summer 2018, $4 million in renovations made way for its brand new, cutting-edge space on Robertson Center 3rd Floor. The new space includes faculty offices, collaborative learning spaces, and the Thrivent Asset Management Financial Markets Lab, home to Bethel's Student Managed Investment Fund

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