With the snip of a ribbon, dignitaries from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln welcomed in a new era at the College of Business with the grand opening of the new Howard L. Hawks Hall building. More than 900 people attended the historic ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, August 18, 2017, which speakers proclaimed as a game-changing moment for future students of both the University and College.
“This day belongs to our students, the future leaders of Nebraska, who are the real inspiration behind Howard L. Hawks Hall,” said Dr. Hank Bounds, president of the University of Nebraska system. “When we succeed in preparing the next generation of business owners, entrepreneurs, accountants, economists and actuaries, the entire state succeeds. When you have a facility like Hawks Hall, where the learning spaces are second to none, anything is possible. That’s a win for students, the workforce and our economy.”
Dr. Donde Plowman, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at Nebraska, served as dean at the College of Business from 2010-16 and provided the primary vision to make Hawks Hall a reality. Arriving on campus during the summer of 2010 to begin her new job, Plowman sensed the presence of greatness and opportunity in those she met. She also perceived the new competitive environment created from Nebraska’s entry into the Big Ten conference.
“Seven years ago the faculty and staff of this college asked themselves the question, ‘Now that we are going into the Big Ten, home to some of the most prestigious business schools in the country, what does that mean for us?’ The answer was, we need to take our game to the next level in everything we do. That conversation took courage and I am so proud of the faculty and staff of this college whose honesty about where we were at the time, and whose absolute boldness at what we could be, has led to this day,” said Plowman.
The 240,000-square-foot building at 14th and Vines streets is roughly double the size of the old business building. The new classrooms provide much greater opportunities for experiential learning utilizing high-tech classrooms to realize greater potential in students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Howard Hawks, Omaha businessman, philanthropist and longtime regent at the University of Nebraska, talked about why he backed the building project and the special nature of his involvement.
“You don’t have to listen to Donde very many times before you get on board the train,” said Hawks. “This building puts Nebraska Business in the big leagues. Just think about the incredible teaching and learning that will take place here, and the opportunities for faculty and student collaboration that will result. This building isn’t going to lose value over time. It’s going to appreciate.”
Dr. Ronnie Green, chancellor of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, stressed the vital need for the new building at this pivotal point in the history of the college.
“To put it in perspective 40 percent more students study in the College of Business than were studying in 2010. We have 30 percent more high-quality faculty that have been brought here to teach those students. Donde Plowman began this building project with her Start Something mentality which resulted in getting us here today, and now you’re sitting in the best business facility in the United States,” said Green.
Interim Dean Dr. Kathy Farrell, welcomed guests to the Open for Business: Ribbon Cutting and Back to School Bash celebration. She thanked those in attendance for their support.
“This building was made possible due to the generosity and dedication of our alumni, partners and friends. Today is a historic moment as we officially open the doors to the new home for the College of Business in Howard L. Hawks Hall. Future students will enter through the same doors we open today and go on to Start Something,” said Farrell.
The ribbon cutting ceremony highlighted the event which also included the annual Back to School Bash, sponsored by Sandhills Publishing. Parents, students and guests toured the new building and enjoyed the festive atmosphere of live music, food and drinks, prizes and a chance to socialize with the Nebraska Business community.