Although a construction start date for the building has yet to be set, about 200 University administrators, trustees and students gathered at the future site of the new School of Business and Public Management Thursday afternoon for a ceremonial groundbreaking.
GW is awaiting a city building permit to begin construction on the 167,000-square-foot facility, which the University will obtain within the next few months, officials said. The ceremony was held last week to coincide with the Board of Trustees meeting Friday.
Instead of breaking ground, administrators set up a pile of dirt on top of the Funger Hall parking lot to symbolize where construction will begin. Diggers, including GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and SBPM Dean Susan Phillips, participated in the first dig before honored students and Board of Trustees members joined in for a second ceremonial dig.
Trachtenberg said he received a call of concern from city officials about the groundbreaking ceremony, but when he explained he would only be “pushing around dirt with shovels,” the event was approved.
“This groundbreaking ceremony is in a class of its own … it shows the unprecedented support of all the members of the school,” Trachtenberg said. “Today’s event is a milestone in our achievement.”
Speakers at the 40-minute ceremony included Trachtenberg, Phillips, two business school students and GW alumni Ric and Dawn Duques, who donated $5 million toward the new school.
The building, named Ric and Dawn Duques Hall, should be completed by 2005, Phillips said.
Phillips and other faculty members said they are happy that the business school will finally have a home, and they expect its reputation to rise after the building is completed.
“This is a great opportunity for GW students … the building will strengthen our reputation for management education not only locally, but also nationally and globally,” Phillips said.
“We’re proud of the change in GW in general, with the Elliott School, the School of Media and Public Affairs, and are glad we’re finally part of the gang,” said Robert Dyer, director of the Executive Masters’ in Business Administration program, noting the two schools that have received new buildings in the past two years.
SBPM courses are currently held in Funger Hall, the Hall of Government and other buildings across campus, including the Elliott School of International Affairs and the MPA building.
The building, to be located on the site of the parking lot on 22nd Street between Funger and Madison halls, will contain about 17 classrooms, an auditorium with a 115-person capacity and a “Capital Markets Room” for market research and stock exercises, according to an Oct. 3 Hatchet article. It will also house three computer labs, five study lounges, meeting areas with Internet access and a cafe and kitchen.
University Senior Counsel Charles Barber said the University should not have a problem obtaining a building permit.
The SBPM building will be named after the Duques, who met and married while students at GW. Building a new business school is a chance to give back to the GW community, Dawn Duques said.
“If we build a technologically advanced building, it will attract world class faculty… which will attract world class students to study in a world class building,” Ric Duques said.
Ric Duques was also a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity while at GW, and several current Delta Tau Delta members attended the event.
Business school students said they attended the event to show their support for the new school.
“We are a team. We are a community. We are these things not because of but, rather, in spite of our current facilities,” said graduate student speaker Joshua Coover, whose remarks were met with laughter from the crowd.