Tuesday, October 25, 2016

12:07 AM

By Jim Ver Steeg

Left to right: Assistant Dean Amy Bruinooge,
Dean Andrew Ainslie, and Director of
Operations AJ Warner outside the
Office of Student Engagement
Open work spaces and a more modern look are transforming the Simon experience and helping prepare students for success in today’s collaborative work environments.

By Jim Ver Steeg 

This past May, Simon Business School embarked on several important upgrades that are designed to enhance the student experience, create more space for collaborative learning, and reflect a modern business environment. The first to be updated in the summer of 2016 was the technology and audio/visual equipment in Gleason Hall, Rooms 118/119. This summer, the Eisenberg Rotunda and the newly formed Office of Student Engagement (OSE) have seen some of the most significant upgrades the School has made in decades.

“Understanding that classrooms probably have the most impact in improving student engagement, it only made sense to start with those,” says assistant dean of academic and financial operations Amy Bruinooge. “We’re continuing those updates and have a full remodel planned for room 207 in Schlegel Hall.”

But it is where students gather to meet and interact outside of class that has seen some of the most dramatic improvements. “One of the greatest opportunities for the School is improving the quality of the Simon experience,” says Bruinooge. “That’s why we wanted to create a space for the OSE that will be the center of student interaction. Having it across from the spiral staircase and the Rotunda seems sort of natural. It all helps create a bright, inviting space that we think will really energize the environment.” Bruinooge notes that the Rotunda’s facelift included fresh paint, new window treatments, and movable furniture so students can modify the space to fit their needs.
The transformed space in Schlegel Hall includes a bright
new lobby, a remodeled Eisenberg Rotunda, and a modern
history of Simon wall that highlights the School's milestones

Recent graduate Mohammad (Moe) Shaikh ’16S (MBA), now a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, thinks the new space reflects an important element of the Simon experience. “One of the most valuable characteristics of Simon is the tight-knit community,” he says. “The Office of Student Engagement is the cornerstone of community. It was exciting to get a sneak peek at the beautiful new space and to see how what I experienced at Simon will be passed on to the next generation of students.”
According to Dean Andrew Ainslie, the transformations of the classrooms, the Rotunda, and the OSE comprise the first phase of the improvements identified in the School’s strategic plan. “In the next two years, we will also transform two other areas critical to student success: the Admissions Office and the Career Management Center,” Ainslie says. “We’ve also just completed a new collaborative workspace on the fourth floor of Schlegel Hall. It replicates the interactive spaces found in corporate workplaces such as Google and Amazon. Students are really enjoying the open space with movable furniture. They can use and make the space what they want to make it.”

A Simon student takes advantage
of the new OSE workspace
Simon’s director of operations, AJ Warner, has been directly involved with transforming the student spaces. She explains how the new OSE space has invigorated Schlegel Hall. “Room 215 used to be a classroom and was eventually turned into a storage room,” she says. “They tore down the walls between that room and Schlegel 201 to double the space of what used to be the Student Services office. The new space has a bright, collaborative meeting area in the center with glass walls that bring in all the light from the Rotunda. It’s a lot more open and modern.” Warner notes that the Rotunda will have automatic blinds that rise and lower to replace the old drapes and curtains.

Together, the space transformations seek to inspire more collaboration and offer space that studentswill appreciate. However, the new space and exciting building updates don’t mean the loss of Simon’s traditions. “We know our core identity is based on economics and analytics,” Bruinooge says. “That’s not going to change. What is going to change is an even more collaborative spirit with spaces custom made to foster experiential learning.”

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