Focus on construction should expand to other schools
Two weeks ago, Washington University officially opened Knight and Bauer Halls, the two newest business school buildings. While construction has not been completely finished, students and faculty have started using both buildings’ grand lecture halls, high-tech study rooms and spacious offices. We can already see the benefits of adding Knight and Bauer Halls.
With only a limited number of classrooms in Simon Hall, the Olin Business School’s main building, the new halls will provide more space for undergraduate classes and allow the University to develop its graduate program. Wash. U.’s prestige will continue to rise, and prospective students will be more impressed by the amenities the school has to offer. While these buildings have many benefits, any casual observer can see that the buildings’ elaborate features—from the three-story glass atrium to the breathtaking amphitheater—took a significant amount of money to build.
It’s no surprise that the Olin Business School has the most luxurious buildings of the four schools on the Danforth Campus. For one, the business school has one of the largest external funds because of its interaction with various companies, organizations and investment firms. With generous donations from alumni like the Knights and Bauers, attaining the 90 million dollars required for construction was more plausible than it would have been for other schools. Though there are plans to hold events and programs for non-business school students in the buildings, the impact that other schools will receive from the new buildings will be limited and the odds of constructing another building similar in expense and grandiosity seem fairly low.
It also isn’t fair that undergraduate students in other schools are stuck with outdated or crowded buildings. Rebstock Hall, primarily used by biology students, was built in 1927, and very few renovations have been made to upgrade the equipment and laboratories. Professors in the English department are forced to share office space with multiple colleagues. And with the Sam Fox School continuing to grow, there has been a need for more studio space as well, an issue that the University still has not addressed.
While more donations and external funding will be needed in order for anything major to be started, it’s worth noting that these projects don’t have to be at the same scale as Knight and Bauer Halls. Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that both the Bauers and the Knights earned degrees related to engineering and the sciences at Wash. U., not from the business school. Though Bauer and Knight set a good precedent for other donors that money doesn’t always have to end up being given to one’s own school, the University ought to shift its focus away from constructing elaborate new projects to fixing current issues across all the undergraduate schools.