Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Paying Forward

Huntsman Hall
I have traveled about the United States in recent months in hopes of seeing into the future.

I’ve been visiting business schools that have recently completed new buildings to find out what they learned from the process, what is working, and what they would change if they had that opportunity. I’ve gone to the University of Washington, William and Mary, Georgetown University, the University of Utah, and the University of Minnesota. I also traveled with our architects to the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School last week where their building, Huntsman Hall, is already 10 years old. We did so because we have a special connection to that top-rated school because of our namesake Jon M. Huntsman and because we thought it would be interesting to get their insight 10 years after their building was constructed.

In each case I was welcomed and given the VIP tour. My hosts were always very open and willing to share with me what they learned from their building experiences.

Another reason I traveled was because I was looking for examples of things that I want to see in our own building. If I tell the architect that I want our building to have an “open feel” and that helps “build a sense of community within the school,” what does that mean? Visiting other schools helps me see exactly what we need and allows the opportunity to point to an example of what we could create. I also hoped to discover new ideas and gain insight I would never be able to get browsing through pictures on the internet.

Here is an example of a tiered - or "case-study" classroom
at the Wharton School. It is the best-designed case-study
classroom I have seen. The chairs even swivel 360 degrees.
I took pages of notes and made a list of more than 60 ideas we might put into the mix for our school. I thought I’d share just a few with you to see what you think.

1) One school has three rooms set aside for visiting executives and another had interview rooms just for recruiters. One facility even had a lounge for the more than 160 recruiters that visit the school each year.

2) One school had two interview rooms that were equipped so that Skype interviews could be conducted.

3) One building featured floors that looked like they were made of marble. They were really just stained concrete, a nice artistic touch that made the building look distinctive.

4) In many cases, the student-related program offices were all located in prime areas on the main floor of the building or “beachfront property” as they called it.

5) Every school I visited said they wished they had designed more meeting spaces for students. I consider that important information to know.

6) One school set aside space for future growth that could eventually be converted into offices, staff areas or a program office.

7) I saw lots of examples that show how a design can make great use of natural light, giving classrooms windows and all offices windows to the outside or a very open building interior.

8) One building discovered a problem after the construction was done. The doors had no windows. This means people are often opening the doors just to find out if a class is in session. Another made sure the doors entering the classrooms were at the back of the room so that latecomers wouldn’t disturb the entire class.

9) Some meeting rooms are adjacent to classrooms, making it easier for professors to send students into breakout sessions.

I was warned that once we have our building completed that we’d need to budget time to give visitors from other schools tours of our own building. If we build it, they will come, I was told. The help we have received has been invaluable. I’m looking forward to paying it forward.

- Ken Snyder


  1. I love the idea of interview rooms for recruiters!

  2. Great research Ken. I really like the idea of having student program offices on beachfront property. A lot of great programs and clubs go under utilized because they're out of sight, out of mind.