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With a new facility, Barton School of Business will play key role on WSU Innovation Campus

Conceptual rendering of the new facility housing the W. Frank Barton School of Business and Innovation Center
Conceptual rendering of the new facility housing the W. Frank Barton School of Business and Innovation Center.

As activity ramps up to establish an Innovation Campus at Wichita State University, momentum also is building for a key component of the initiative — a modern, new facility to house the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

“More and more people who we talk to seem to understand and embrace the vision we have for a new building,” said James Jordan-Wagner, interim dean of the W. Frank Barton School of Business. “And excitement really builds when we point out that space in the new building will be among the most valuable space on the Innovation Campus. The Barton School of Business will have a leading role within the Innovation Campus.”

James Jordan-Wagner, interim dean for the W. Frank Barton School of Business
“A new business building is critical to our goal to move the Barton School of Business to the top level of business schools across the country.”

- James Jordan-Wagner, interim dean for the W. Frank Barton School of Business

Working in concert with university leaders, the WSU Foundation is developing a fundraising strategy for the new building and has made initial contact with several prospective donors, said Elizabeth King, the WSU Foundation’s president and CEO. The projected cost of the building is $70 million, of which about half will be raised privately, she said.

“A modern facility for our Barton School of Business is a top priority in the comprehensive campaign,” King said. “A new building will provide teaching and learning spaces that are more collaborative, more efficient and more technologically up to date than the 44-year-old Clinton Hall now provides.”

Clinton Hall, said Jordan-Wagner, was built with the educational philosophy of that era in mind. That included an intentional separation of faculty from students outside of the classroom and lecture hall.

“Today, it would be our goal to provide a space that is in tune with the business education model that encourages interaction, collaboration and an environment where ideas are shared and then acted upon,” he said.

That includes giving faculty members opportunities to serve as mentors in addition to lecturers.

“Today’s business schools are places where students can learn more effectively and graduate with the skills they need to compete well in the job market,” said Jordan-Wagner. “We want students not just to be able to land jobs, but to take leadership roles where they land.”

Included among the features now planned for the new building are:

  • A 143,000-square-foot, four-story building with an attached two-story Innovation Center.
  • A 20,000-square-foot Innovation Center that gives students hands-on access to technology and visualization labs around the clock.
  • An open layout and natural lighting to reinforce a collaborative environment.
  • A 300-seat tiered auditorium on the first floor and three 100-seat tiered classrooms.
  • Formal and informal collaboration spaces, including breakout rooms, casual seating, patios and lounges.
  • Faculty offices and flexible classrooms to accommodate emerging technologies and enrollment growth.
  • A space for the Koch Global Trading Center that is visible from all building entrances, with expanded work stations.