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$25 Million Gift to Fund New Innovation-Minded Graduate Business Building

UT President William Powers and McCombs Dean Tom Gilligan today announced a $25 million pledge from Dallas businessman Robert Rowling, BBA ’76, his wife Terry Hennersdorf Rowling, BBA ’76, (right) and their family to fund the construction of a 458,000-square-foot graduate business building.

Robert B. Rowling Hall will house McCombs School graduate programs, expand the teaching and meeting facilities of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, and add 525 new parking spaces.

[Below, left to right: UT President William Powers, Red McCombs, Terry and Robert Rowling, and Dean Tom Gilligan.]

Rowling Hall will have 220,000 square feet of academic space.

“This building itself will embody many traits that are key to business successflexibility, common areas for interaction, and the ability to take advantage of evolving technology," said Powers. "And we are proud to have Bob Rowling’s name on it.”

Business and education have seen multiple revolutions since the 1950s, when the current McCombs building began construction. The new building will allow graduate business students to work in modern study environments, with flexible spaces for team preparation, student-professor meetings, recruiter visits, private study areas, and teleconferencing.

“Robert B. Rowling Hall will be truly transformative, enhancing the quality and reputation of our already highly esteemed graduate programs,” said Gilligan after the announcement. The gift also begins a three-phase project to replace and renovate facilities used by the McCombs School of Business.

Rowling Hall will have 220,000 square feet of academic space.The Rowling gift marks the launch of an effort to raise $58.25 million in donations, which along with other institutional funds, are needed to complete the new graduate building. 

Rowling Hall will stand on the northeast corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Guadalupe Street, immediately west of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2017. Ennead Architects, an award-winning firm with experience in large-scale, academic construction projects, will design the building. 

Rowling is the owner and chairman of TRT Holdings, Inc., which owns the luxury Omni Hotels & Resorts chain, Gold’s Gym International, Tana Exploration Company, and various other investment assets. He previously served on the University of Texas System Board of Regents and was also chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company. In 2005 he was inducted into the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame. 

Robert and Terry Rowling, as well as their son Blake, earned undergraduate degrees from the school of business.

“My family and I are passionate about the State of Texas, The University of Texas, and creating educational opportunities in our state," said Robert Rowling. "Texas is the best place in the country to do business, and we hope this gift will encourage the best and the brightest to come to Austin to get their MBA and be part of the phenomenon that is Texas."


The Rowling Hall Blueprint

Among the core priorities for the new facility, architects will be asked to design for:

  • Long Hours: Graduate students typically spend more than 60 hours per week at the school, and often use it for consulting initiatives and job interviews.
  • Collaborative Learning: Team preparation space is a constant need, and the new building will increase the number of team rooms four fold.
  • Student Engagement: Rowling Hall will double the amount of available community space, including gathering spaces, food service, and meeting areas.
  • Distance Learning: Improved classroom and conference technologies will bring far-flung classmates close together.
  • Faculty-Student Interaction: Improving access to faculty offices will make it easier for students to work one-on-one with professors.

Image credit: Steve Moakley

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