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MBA building is too small; fundraising not met for a new one

Mills’ plans to build a larger Graduate School of Business may fall through if Mills cannot meet the fundraising goal required by the Board of Trustees for construction.

Mills, unlike public educational institutions like UC Berkeley, gets no money from the state of California for capital projects. Mills must fundraise from alumnae, parents of students, foundations and other donors for funding capital projects, like buildings.

“Mills College does not use tuition to fund capital projects,” said Ramon Torrecilha, executive vice president. “We raise money for scholarships, too.”

The college’s fiscal policy requires that before a capital project like the building for the Graduate School of Business, can be approved, 80 percent of the budget must be fundraised. Mills is presently $1.8 million away from its $24 million fundraising goal, largely financed by Lorry Lokey, one of Mills’ largest donors.

Mills planned a new MBA building because of the anticipated growth of the Masters of Business Administration program in the School of Business.

The MBA program started in Fall 2001 with 12 students and now has 73, according to Nancy Thornborrow, dean of the school of business.

She expects around 80 students for next year.

“The program hopes to grow to 100 [students] by 2010,” says Thornborrow.

She said that the current location can’t accommodate the size of the program.

The Busines School is stationed in the A wing and common room of Reinhardt Hall. Thornborrow said that the living room in Reinhardt can only hold a maximum of 30 people, but not with the space they need for their curriculum.

She said that the program is based on group work and presentations, not individual work and exams. “We do need classrooms that will accommodate 20 to 25 students comfortably . and for students to work together outside of class on projects.”

The plans for the building place it on Orchard Meadow Field, across Kapiolani Road from the library.

It is being designed in partnership with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architectural firm, a world-renowned firm, according to Torrecilha.

Karen Maggio, vice president of business affairs, said the building will have an “L”-shape design that will frame Orchard Meadow and Warren Olney residence halls.

“The current preliminary design retains a lovely meadow,” said Maggio.

The building will also be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified “green” building. Green buildings are designed with environmentally friendly materials and reduce energy consumption.

Another unique design feature includes a “living roof” – a rooftop garden that will provide insulation for the building – and indoor and outdoor patios. These are elements Maggio hopes will make it through the approval process.

“When I first heard it was going to be on the meadow, I just pictured a big box dropped on it,” said sophomore Jessica Miller, a PLEA-Economics major. “But I think the shape of the building and the roof will be really cool.”

Maggio said that no less than three or four other sites were considered for the building, from the Oval to the CPM parking lot.

“Every site considered had some problem associated with it . [Orchard Meadow Field] is a nice flat space in the center of campus,” said Maggio.

“[The college] is rapidly running out of room” for such large construction projects, said Kennedy Golden, acting dean of students.

As for the remaining $1.8 million to be raised before the May 10 board meeting, Torrecilha expressed no doubt over raising the money.

“Absolutely. Yes, of course we will,” he said.