The Auburn University Raymond J. Harbert College of Business celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
In 1967, Auburn University’s board of trustees decreed to start a school of business. The school expanded the number of programs it offered and was named a college in 1985. Since then, the college has been renamed, found a new home and found innovative new ways of delivering education to students.
Bill Hardgrave became the dean of the college in 2010. According to him, the Harbert College of Business’s success is attributed to a history of being innovative and to the donors who have “made investments” in the college.
“We’ve been an innovator…and a first mover, and we get in there, and do things that others couldn’t do and wouldn’t do,” Hardgrave said.
Hardgrave said the college’s innovation is highlighted by its history of offering distance learning options and by its infrastructural advances on campus.
“We’ve been very progressive and aggressive on non-traditional forms of delivering education,” Hardgrave added. This began with delivering lectures by mailing VHS tapes to students. Later, in 2004, that method was improved upon by replacing the tapes with DVDs. Now, those forms of delivering education have manifested into a thriving set of online programs. Four of them are currently ranked top-ten programs.
Innovation on campus included the construction of Lowder Hall, which opened this month, 25 years ago. Now, a new building has been designed and is set to open its doors by 2019. The new building will contribute to “…changing who we are as a college,” Hardgrave said.
The new 100,000-square-foot building will offer class rooms and learning areas that facilitate a non-lecture teaching style. There will be capabilities for breakout sessions, flexible learning spaces and technological infrastructure to further efforts in distance learning.
“It is a phenomenal and much-needed addition to the business campus,” Hardgrave said. The new building will also include a rooftop terrace for students. It will be constructed next to Lowder Hall on Glenn Avenue.
The aggressive advances made over the college’s history indicates a spirit that is not afraid, under which the college continues to operate. “I think that’s a spirit that we’ve instilled now that is embraced. We will continue to innovate, and that will continue to push us forward,” Hardgrave said.
The dean underlined the history of advancement with the fact that it would not have been possible without the investments made by donors over the years. He stated that in his time at the college, the most exciting event was when Raymond and Kathryn Harbert donated $40 million to the college that allowed for a major increase in the quality of faculty and programs offered.
The appreciation of the University was proven by naming the college after Raymond J. Harbert. The Harberts recently made another donation of $15 million to help fund construction of the new facilities.
Dean Hardgrave expects more advances to come soon to the college, continuing the evolution of education.
“I’m very bullish on the future,” Hardgrave said.