Here’s another dispatch from the business school building boom: Portland State University’s School of Business Administration is planning to break ground on a $60 million project that will triple its available space.
That comes after Yale School of Management unveiled its new $243 million home earlier this month. Other recent campus projects include Harvard Business School’s new $100 million building for its executive education programs and groundbreaking on a new $220 million home for Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
The Economist noted a handful of reasons for all these pricey expansions in an article last week. Many business school campuses were built in the 1960s and 1970s and are due for upgrades. Many top MBA programs, meanwhile, have turned into fundraising juggernauts. Columbia Business School has raised $100 million each from billionaire investors Henry Kravis and Ronald Perelman for its new campus.
The building boom is also arms race. It’s important to keep up with the Joneses as business schools compete for students: Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business hired renowned architect Robert A.M. Sterne for a campus update completed in 2002. And it’s no accident that Portland State hired the same architectural firm that designed the University of Oregon’s Lillis Business Complex.
That’s fine as long as students want MBAs. With research on employers’ demand for new MBAs mixed, and interest in online education rising, it seems possible that some business schools’ investments in expensive new campuses could be more costly than they anticipate.