L-R: Robert Dolan, Mary Sue Coleman, Stephen Ross
Stephen Ross, BBA '62, Celebrates New Era in Business Education with Dean Dolan, President Coleman
Ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorates opening of new Ross School of Business building.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Real estate developer Stephen M. Ross, BBA '62, marked a new era in business education March 13, as he joined Dean Robert Dolan and University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the building that now bears his name.
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business officially opened for classes in January 2009. At 270,000 square feet and a cost of $145 million, the facility was designed by New York-based architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to support the school's signature model of action-based learning.
"It is still hard for me to imagine, thinking back to my days as a student in the early '60s, that one day the school would bear my name," said Ross, founder, chairman, and CEO of The Related Companies.
It's also hard to imagine that less than five years have passed since Ross made his pivotal $100 million gift to help the school realize its mission. At that time, he directed $75 million toward costs associated with construction, which began in 2006. The remaining balance came from additional fund raising, business school funds, and other private sources.
"We have created a fitting home for one of the best business schools in the United States, a home that facilitates the sustained connections among students, among faculty, and between students and faculty. I could not be more pleased," Ross told an audience of alumni, faculty, students, and staff gathered for the ribbon-cutting.
Dean Dolan pointed out that much of the former business school complex, which was razed to make way for the new one, did not meet the needs of Michigan's action-based learning curriculum. The new building's six-story atrium, complete with natural light and open spaces for informal meetings, facilitates the collaborative approach demanded by much of the coursework. There are 12 tiered classrooms, four flat classrooms, and 24 group study rooms, each equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Healthy food in the campus café and a 7,000-square-foot fitness facility also are included to support students' demanding lifestyles.
"That was the kind of functionality we didn't have before, and we really needed it to support what's distinctive about the school," Dolan said.
Coleman noted that amid all the turmoil that comes with construction and moving, the Ross School continued its excellent track record in the national rankings. The BBA Program actually jumped from No. 6 to No. 4 in the most recent BusinessWeek survey (February 2009).
"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Steve Ross and to the many donors who stepped forward after his leadership gift these past several years to make a difference in the teaching, research, and service at the Ross School," she said. "And in the tradition of well-run businesses, we owe thanks to everyone who kept this project on time and on budget."
While pleased that the school is now housed in a complex that will help continue to attract top students and faculty, Ross called for continued engagement by all members of the community. The global economic collapse has created a heightened need for business schools to prepare innovative graduates.
"The world is changing at a pace faster than any of us ever thought," Ross said. "Obviously, this is a troubled time in the world. Business organizations and society are desperately looking for leadership: leadership with the ability to not only acknowledge the reality of the day, but also to energize good people to good purpose, by offering hope and a realistic path to better days.
"So we must once again rise to the occasion and follow the leadership of Dean Dolan to the next level to create the global business school of the future," Ross continued. "He has developed the footprint, and it must be our next goal. While today is a historic event that any school in this country would be proud of, we must continue to build it on to make sure that we are creating the future leaders of the world."
Ross has developed some of the highest-profile buildings in existence, including the Time Warner Center in New York. But there is something unique about the building he helped make possible for his alma mater, he said.
"No investment I have ever made has given me satisfaction like this investment to this school and this institution," he said. "There is no feeling like the one you get from giving back."
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