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Regents Approve New Graduate Business Education Center

Last week the University of Texas System Board of Regents approved a proposal for a new, $155 million, 458,000-square-foot Graduate Business Education Center. If all goes according to plan, the new building will open in February 2017, on Whitis Avenue between MLK and 20th Streets across from the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.

The new building is the cornerstone of a facilities plan that also includes renovations to the existing College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business buildings, both of which will be devoted to undergraduate education once the new building opens.

“In our current space, we can’t educate either graduate or undergraduate students the way we want to,” said Eric Hirst, McCombs associate dean. “Most importantly, we don’t have the ability to share fully the intellectual capital of the school. We’re constrained by lack of space from offering all sorts of specialized electives. We also need the space to be configured much differently than it is now. The new building will solve those problems.

“It’s a multi-step process. Once the graduate programs and students have moved into the new building, we can work on the existing buildings.”

MBA student needs are different from undergraduate student needs, said Hirst. The new building will be configured much like the kind of office environments where MBAs have worked, with space for teamwork and large-group meetings, as well as rooms for negotiations and client presentations.

“We’ll have great opportunities and lots of flexibility,” explained Hirst. “A classroom could start out large in the morning, then soundproof partitions can be brought in to make smaller rooms for new electives the afternoon.” The new building will also include state-of-the-art telecommunications capabilities to facilitate long-distance collaboration, perhaps even with Texas MBA students in the DFW, Houston, and Mexico City programs.

“We’ll be able to do the kind of things we need to do to run a modern, top-quality MBA program and remain competitive with other top programs for the best students,” said Hirst.

The building itself has not yet been designed—the image here shows a concept design for development purposes only that has not yet been approved by Board of Regents for construction.


#1 Yes, that is one of its

Yes, that is one of its intentions. The MBA students want everything to be separate from the undergrads, because they are so special. They think they're too mature to be in the same building with undergrads, and everything MBA has to be BETTER. It's like they don't even remember being undergrads! (I am not being sarcastic.) They don't want to relate to you. Ever seen their swanky MBA-only student lounge?

#2 Thanks for your contact

Thanks for your contact information. I will try to find out more about electives, but Houston and DFW courses don't have any electives. Because this is a lockstep, all courses are pre-arranged. Since I cannot move to Austin (like many others who are working), I was not able to apply for full-time to enjoy the privilege of selecting from electives that you are offering to full time MBAs at Austin. My concerns are more related to MBA programs outside Austin, the courses and MBA centers outside Austin area. It will be great to see elective being offered to MBAs outside Austin. Thanks again.

#3 Thanks once again for your

Thanks once again for your wide-ranging thoughts. Rather than try to respond to each one, let me say that the McCombs School does indeed offer many of the electives you are proposing. Lest there be any confusion, we offer the Texas MBA program in DFW, Houston, and Mexico City via face to face classes with the very same faculty that teach in our programs in Austin. We are always exploring new ways to bring more of our courses to all of our programs. On-line and distance learning options are one (but not the only) way we can do that. I'd be glad to discuss any and all things MBA-related with you at your convenience. You can reach me at 512.471.5565 or e-mail me directly at

#4 Does anyone know the name of

Does anyone know the name of the designer that created the rendering in this article?

#5 Yes, Investing in people is

Yes, Investing in people is more important than others! Great point!

#6 Once again it's "I hope

Once again it's "I hope someone will read my comments". Thanks for the reading my comments and providing information, glad to know that you are having plans to add more electives in future and working on bringing Venture labs to other cities as well. Here are few gleaming questions though: why are there no investments in DFW, Houston, or Mexico city MBA centers? Do you have any plans of offering full time MBA programs in these cities, because distant learning is not the same? It's not that McComb should copy from Wharton and create nearly 200 electives. But at present or in future, is there any way for a MBA student in these cities to take electives or specialize in a particular field of growing prominence in business? I am your MBA student and don't know where you are teaching - "international business, health care management, not-for-profit, and more". I hope you are working "parallel-ly" to give equal importance to create the "unparalleled educational experience" in McComb, on a strategy to create a new, refreshing, realistic and innovative set of courses & hiring faculties (in your new multi million $$ building), because that is what is going to ultimately differentiate McCombs from others and make it (not just a great but) an outstanding school in the whole nation that we all can be even more proud to be part of. To be more specific, here are few examples of electives that are oh! so useful in today's world, would like to see McComb offering them next year :) Competitive Strategy Consumer Behavior Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation Fixed Income Securities Health Care Field Application Project Information: Industry Structure and Competitive Strategy Innovation, Change, & Entrepreneurship International Development Strategy Negotiation and Dispute Resolution The Political Economy of the Public Sector Political Environment of the Multinational Firm Private Equity in Emerging Markets Privatization: International Perspective Probability Modeling in Marketing and so on....

#7 The new facility seems

The new facility seems necessary for expansion, but is its main intention to further segregate the graduate from undergraduate students? As undergraduate student in my late twenties, I welcome the interaction between MBA students, as I feel I can relate more easily.

#8 Dear "I hope someone will

Dear "I hope someone will read my comments," First, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Second, I think you'll find that the new building will address them in many ways. The driving force behind the need for a new building is that we are not able to fully share the considerable knowledge we have and that we generate at McCombs. Today, we find ourselves unable to deliver all the electives we want to deliver because we lack the classroom space to do so. The new building will offer us additional and more-flexible classroom and learning/collaboration space. We'll be able to offer new courses as well as more offerings of the courses we already teach in international business, health care management, not-for-profit, and more. To me, this is by far the most exciting opportunity the new building will provide. We've got terrific students in DFW, Houston, and Mexico City. I teach many of them and I know firsthand how they are interested in connecting more with the 'home office' in Austin. The new building will have the tools we need to bring more of what we do in Austin to our other locations. With high quality distance learning and collaboration tools, we can develop elective classes that we offer simultaneously to students in all locations. I can envision courses taught face to face in rotating locations ensuring that regardless of a student's location they have access to the knowledge we deliver at McCombs. With the generous gift from the Brumley family, we are currently in the process of bringing Texas Venture Labs to programs outside of Austin. Stay tuned for more on that, but know that we are already on the case! The quality and reputation of a university and a business school is, indeed, a reflection of its people. I'm confident that the new building (and the subsequent renovation of the existing facilities) will help us attract extremely talented students, faculty, and staff because we are able to offer an educational experience that is unparalleled. Thanks again for your thoughts and feel free to reach out and share more.

#9 I hope someone will read my

I hope someone will read my comments. Building new MBA center is a great news for McCombs. But frankly, it's a distraction from addressing 2 major issues that is more important for McComb's students: 1) It's all in Austin! Will there be any expansion in Houston or Dallas? There are so many candidates in these cities. McCombs students outside Austin don't feel that they are part of the McComb school. And I am disappointed to learn that Venture Labs does not exist outside Austin. 2) McComb should invest more and more on faculties and offer huge number of electives to students, just like Tucks or Wharton. If McComb wants to attract the brightest and compete with these top schools to increase their ranking, a gorgeous building won't do it for sure. It's just an external modification or expansion. The only positive element that is holding McComb's ranking today is the quality of the faculty. MBA courses in McComb are limited and they don't offer a wide variety of choices, in areas such as social entrepreneurship, or healthcare, non-profit or international business. These subjects are more important in the real world. Whoever is deciding McComb's future has to align real world challenges that leaders face today with what is being taught in class, the courses/curriculum. Just offering the basic courses is not enough - need more faculty, need more electives - so please invest in PEOPLE (students, faculty and their choices, courses, programs) more, isn't that what MBA is all about - investing in people?

#10 The MBA programs (and their

The MBA programs (and their sky-high tuition rates) bring more money per student to the university than any other educational program. If McCombs wants to keep attracting talented students (and their tuition dollars), then a new building is a step in the right direction. Modern business education requires space for group meetings, presentations, etc. The new building is providing much more than "more space". There's an arms race for talent among MBA programs, and if UT wants to keep its place among the elite business schools, the facilities will have to keep up. As far as opportunity cost, I'm not familiar with the plight of lost teaching positions in other parts of the university. If that is happening, it is certainly unfortunate. The MBA programs, on the other hand, are growing and bringing in more and more revenue to the university, which is why the regents approved the plan in the first place.

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