Tour showcases student achievement, gold standards in technology, design and comfort
Just as brightly as the sunlight filters through the wall of two-story windows into its large gathering space, a great sense of UND pride shines through the new Nistler College of Commerce and Public Administration.
The $70 million building – funded largely by private donations, including the $20 million lead gift from Werner and Colleen Nistler, as well as a $20 million North Dakota State game — welcomed its first students to class last month. Five weeks later, visitors are still amazed.
It’s the kind of place a student on opening day was overheard saying, “Wow, I can’t believe I can go to school here.” And a stranger in a peer review said: ‘This building screams how much you love your students.’
Yes, the 111,000 square foot community at the heart of campus is truly impressive.
UND Today had the opportunity last week to take its own guided tour with the college’s dean, Amy Henleyand its Director of External Relations, Laura Arneson.
“You step back and think…thousands, tens of thousands of students will be impacted by this timeless learning environment that so many have come together to create for them. You can’t help but feel proud,” Henley said. “It’s very humbling to look around and see… wow, so many people believed in us and believed in the vision that took decades to shape.
“If the college hadn’t had this long history of success and connection, I don’t know if all of these donors would have made the same generous investments.”
For their leadership and gifts, she says, the University is incredibly grateful.
A round of thanks all around
And that gratitude, in part, manifests in the 62 separate spaces that are named after individuals, families, and businesses throughout the four-story building. Everywhere you turn you see the name of a person who made the dream possible. Classrooms and conference rooms. A flexible and smaller multi-purpose roomlanding” study spaces. A café soon to open and even a small banquette nestled in the first landing of the open atrium staircase. All proudly carry a name.
In total, more than 250 donors have contributed to the building project, and each will eventually have their place on an artistic wall display on the second floor – one of the few things that remained in progress for the past week.
On a long walkway adjacent to and open to the community hall below, visitors also get a glimpse into the personal stories of alumni and others who have made substantial donations to the college.
“We love this gallery. It’s probably one of my favorite screens,” Henley said. “It’s such an honor to be able to show students and parents why all of these people have chosen to donate to education and why they believe in the UND experience.”
Comfortable hubs that feel like home
Henley explained that the entire building was designed with the idea of three highly connected, adaptable, and seamless engagement hubs focused on students, faculty, and the community.
“We hear that students feel very comfortable here,” Henley said. “They come to class and are in no rush to leave. That’s what we wanted. They hang around. They interact in all kinds of activities.
Interrupted by the tour group, Sabina Haase, manager of marketing and German studies, of Fort Worth, Texas, said she could attest to that.
“It’s really nice to have all the new technology and so many new spaces to study and work on projects together,” she said. “One of my favorite things is all the glass and the really modern vibe. It’s just really bright and open with all the windows to let the sunlight in. It will be especially nice in the winter.
See for yourself during the open house
If you don’t watch it sooner, you can see for yourself the brand new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration at its grand opening at the UND Homecoming. An official ribbon cutting is scheduled for 11 a.m. on September 30. And the bonus: you can meet the Nistlers, who plan to be there for the celebration.
In the meantime, here are some of the features that caught our attention…
- Soft atmosphere and modern look. Unlike Gamble Hall, the former home of the UND business school, Nistler College has an open and more welcoming atmosphere. Its soothing earth tones – with just the right amount of branding and UND green – say to come in and sit down.
- Speaking of seats. It is worth mentioning that there is not a bad one in the house. You will find a wide variety of seating options and mobile arrangements to suit all your needs. Saying you want a super comfy, padded rocking chair? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
- All amenities under one roof: Kitchenettes and open spaces in departments provide faculty, students, and guests with a place to collaborate or simply gather to share a conversation over coffee and a caramel bun.
- The heights of technology. With the simple touch of a button, the transparent glass becomes opaque for more privacy in large conference rooms. And although supply chain issues have caused delays, all 20 classrooms will be equipped with high-tech cameras and audio systems to enable popular ‘full flex’ learning. So, on any given day, a student can choose to attend a class in person or at home. The timing of the key design phase and the outbreak of the pandemic created a unique COVID lens, Arneson said.
- A walk-in closet like you’ve never seen before. Do you have an interview next week but nothing to wear? Carefree. Students can choose one accessory and two work clothes each semester. Donated by alumni and local businesses such as Scheels, fashionable business clothes are often slightly worn or new.
- Storytelling from the start. Immediately after entering the main doors on University Avenue, visitors are greeted by a panel of large screens sharing student success stories. They see and learn from students like them who have already found ways to lead through their experiences at UND. Want to know more? It’s easy. Just scan the giant QR code to view the whole story on your phone.
- An outdoor oasis and indoor walkways. Let’s face it, we have beautiful weather… more time. On days like today, you can enjoy the scenery on the inviting outdoor patio. But when it’s boots and parkas season, you can quickly make your way to the nearby Chester Fritz Library or Merrifield Hall through the skyways without your toes or your latte getting cold.