A high-tech business education environment: Robert Morris University A high-tech business education environment | Robert Morris University


Derya Jacobs, Ph.D., professor of operations research, was named interim dean of the RMU School of Business in 2002, and was appointed to the position full-time in 2004. Under her leadership, in 2009 the school earned accreditation by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Only 5 percent of business schools worldwide have achieved this prestigious designation. The following interview was compiled and condensed by Jonathan Potts M’11, senior director of public relations at Robert Morris.

When did the university start talking about this building?
When I was appointed dean, we were evaluating the current status of the business school for AACSB purposes. We had to know where we stood so we could determine our weaknesses and therefore how to improve. One of the things I noticed was that we needed a learning facility, a laboratory, analogous to engineering and science facilities. Business students must also have something that provides hands-on learning. I put together a proposal to purchase the hardware needed to create a simulated trading center, and that was approved by the previous administration. Then President Dell’Omo came on board, and Perry Roofner [vice president for facilities] started. The university had a master plan to bring each school together [in its own building] to give them their own identity. We discussed plans to build a new business school building.

What is the vision for the new School of Business building?
From the beginning, we wanted this building to be a high-tech business education environment for our students. For that reason we did not include any faculty offices, since Massey Hall could continue to house offices for business faculty. That way you are bringing students closer to the faculty and increasing student and faculty interaction, but the building itself is truly designed to be a learning laboratory for business students. The PNC Trading Center will include the latest technology. We are going to have a Bloomberg laboratory with 10 machines in it. The Allegheny Technologies Incorporated Global Business Library will have project rooms. There will be an interactive digital wall in that library that will provide marketing and finance information. The vision of this building in the long term is to prepare students in the best way for the corporate world. From the time they enter, students should feel that it is simulating the corporate world. So even the interior design, from colors to furniture, is going to simulate the corporate world.

What was the idea behind the U.S. Steel Videoconferencing and Technology Resource Center?
As companies become increasingly global, we thought that when students graduate and start working, it is reasonable to think they will be communicating via videoconferencing – they will not be traveling all the time. Also, if we choose to offer our business degrees off-site, we can use this facility for that.

It sounds like there is going to be no aspect of corporate life that won’t be replicated somewhere in the building.