WRITTEN BY JONATHAN POTTS
On a crisp late April afternoon, students, faculty, and staff in the School of Business gathered for a picnic in the Rudolph Family Gardens to mark the end of the academic year – and to celebrate an even more significant milestone.
RMU was weeks away from breaking ground on an 18,000-square-foot building that will form a quadrangle at the gardens and provide a home – including classroom, library and study space – for the university’s flagship business school. The building is set to open in the fall of 2011.
“Being here as long as I have, seeing all the changes I’ve seen, this will be the greatest addition to Robert Morris University,” says Dean Manna, Ph.D., who has taught at RMU for 36 years. Freshman and sophomore students speak enthusiastically about what the building will mean for their education. Graduating seniors, admittedly a bit envious, appreciate its significance. “I’m happy because this will add value to my degree,” says Rachel Cooney, a senior majoring in both marketing and hospitality and tourism.
When the board of trustees gave the go-ahead for RMU to move forward with construction, it represented a victory for President Gregory Dell’Omo’slong-term vision over the lingering effects of the nation’s 2008 financial meltdown. Like every other organization, RMU made sacrifices in response to the recession. A hiring freeze and salary freeze were imposed last year.
Departmental budgets were cut. Money saved was poured into financial aid and enhancing the quality of RMU’s academic programs.
And guess what? This past fall saw a record freshman class enroll at RMU, and the university is on pace for another. Residence halls are full, and students who moved off campus are clamoring to come back.
“When somebody asks, ‘What do you think? You’ve been here five years. How are you feeling?’ I’m more excited today than I was the day I started. We’re seeing results that are coming back from all of our hard work.” says Dell’Omo.
The new building also represents the faith that the Pittsburgh business community has placed in RMU. The PNC Foundation donated $520,000 to create the PNC Trading Center. The United States Steel Foundation gave $500,000 for the U. S. Steel Videoconferencing and Technology Resource Center. Allegheny Technologies Inc. gave $250,000 for the Allegheny Technologies Global Library.
“The building will at long last give Robert Morris University and its graduates the reputation they deserve, the reputation they have earned through their hard work, professional success and dedicated service to the community,” says Derya Jacobs, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business. “It will be a transformative facility that will move our business school and university to another level.”
Timber at RMU - The pines come down, so construction can begin on a new school of business at Robert Morris University. Projected opening: Fall 2011.