Wednesday, August 17, 2011
A center for centers?
A group of us recently visited the University of Minnesota to tour the Carlson School of Management (http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu). We make visits like these to learn things that might help us with the design of our new building.
One of the questions we’ve been wrestling with when it comes to deciding how to design and layout our building is how can we best integrate programs and centers into the physical structure of a building. We plan several programs and centers that serve all students no matter which department or major the student is in. For example, we plan a Stephen R. Covey Center for Ethical Leadership, a Center for Entrepreneurship and a Center for Global Engagement.
We saw a really great solution to the space for centers and programs at the Carlson School. They locate all of their centers in a specific location so that it can share resources. They’ve created sort of a center for centers. The set-up makes it more likely that school leaders will communicate with each other about ongoing and shared initiatives. The programs share a receptionist, the same conference room and the facility features a suite of offices that can be assigned out according to need. If the staffing and faculty support needs for one center are greater than for another area, for example, space can be allocated based on those needs. They placed this center of centers in a high-traffic area of the building in what they identify as “beachfront real estate” where it is easily accessible by students.
I am grateful that the Carlson School opened its doors and shared with us the things it has learned. Carolyn Chase, the assistant dean of operations, was very gracious as she showed us around and let us see the results of all their planning and work.
These are the kind of ideas we will be challenging and considering in the next few months as we create our new space.