Even an untrained eye can marvel at the beauty of the newly renovated and expanded David D. Glass Hall at Missouri State University. Stunning natural light, upscale finishes and high-tech equipment seemingly around every corner sets a new tone for the home of the university’s famed College of Business. But for the college’s former Dean Stephanie Bryant, the five-year, $33.8 million project was about more than cosmetic upgrades. “When you design a building like this, you don’t just throw darts at the wall,” she says. She wanted a space that aligned with the college’s strategic goals and that elevated the educational experience for the more than 5,500 students in COB. “In our strategic plan, we say experiential learning is huge to us… so the space has to reflect that,” Bryant says. “We say that we want to have closer ties to the business community and build those relationships. Well, okay, if you want to do that, then the facility should carry that out.”
When Bryant joined MSU’s faculty in 2011, she quickly established that a renovation of the then 24-year-old building should be a priority. “It’s true that I was the person who said let’s make this happen; however, a dream is just a dream unless you have other people also see that dream,” Bryant says. So she started pitching the project to MSU President Clif Smart and the Board of Governors, and in 2013, an official committee was formed to begin working on the project. Student feedback was incorporated throughout the concept and design phase, and Bryant, Interim Dean David Meinert and Associate Dean Elizabeth Rozell collectively toured 15 to 20 business schools and asked other business school deans for input.
With a plan in place and funding from the college, state government and private donors secured, construction began in 2015. Naturally, there were some delays—including a national shortage of glass—but one of the biggest challenges was that the building remained in use throughout the regular academic years. “In the business world, we try to teach people to be agile, to be change-oriented and to be able to be flexible,” Bryant says. “In teaching those things, we also have to live those things ourselves, and I think we did a great job with that as well.” All the dust and waiting was worth it. What remains is a hardly recognizable building that launches Missouri State’s business school into a higher-caliber learning environment. “For the students, I think it’s transformational,” Bryant says. “That’s a buzzword, and I sort of hate to use a buzzword, but I can’t think of a better word—it’s transformational. It will make a difference in their education. We will also be able to recruit students. When they come here, our business school can compete.”