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UC Davis Breaks Ground on 'Green' MBA Building, Regional Conference Center

December 7, 2007

GSM Building

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Wielding golden shovels, prominent business leaders joined MBA students, faculty and alumni today to break ground on a $34.5 million Graduate School of Management building and conference center complex at UC Davis. The energy-efficient, environmentally responsible project will help boost the profile of the nationally ranked management school and serve as an important new venue for business and academic conferences when it opens in fall 2009. It will also help anchor the campus' emerging "front door" near Interstate 80.

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management building will be called Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, in honor of the Las Vegas airline executive who in October pledged $10 million to support the project and establish an endowment for the school. The adjoining conference center will include a restaurant and meeting facilities. The complex will also include a hotel, to be constructed separately.

The structures will be located across from the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, adjacent to the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, near the School of Law to the north and the soon-to-be-completed Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science to the west, and alongside a planned UC Davis Museum of Art.

"The Graduate School of Management is already recognized as one of the best business schools in the country. With the completion of this world-class facility, we will become even more attractive to top students and faculty," said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, the school's dean. "At the same time, the complex and its neighbors will serve as an important hub for the region's business and public policy interests, opening up tremendously exciting new opportunities to connect our MBA candidates to the entrepreneurs and community leaders who help drive the nation's sixth largest economy."

The new management school building, conference center and hotel will all be visible from I-80. With its easy-in, easy-out access from the freeway, the complex "will be a great regional asset and provide an attractive venue for the business community to get together on the university campus," said Barbara Hayes, executive director of the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization. "The new facility will also solidify the presence and reputation of the already renowned UC Davis Graduate School of Management."

The nationally ranked UC Davis Graduate School of Management provides management education to more than 100 full-time MBA students on the Davis campus, as well as 184 students enrolled in the Sacramento Working Professional MBA Program in downtown Sacramento and 165 in the San Francisco Bay Area Working Professional MBA Program in San Ramon.

"The Graduate School of Management already is ranked among the best MBA programs in the country," Gallagher said in announcing his gift in October. "But to move into the elite tier, you have to have a world-class facility. I think the location, benefits and design of this new building, combined with the leadership of the faculty, will enable the school to jump up to that higher level over the next 10 to 15 years."

Gallagher Hall, at 40,000 square feet and three stories tall, will more than double the management school's current space on the UC Davis campus. The school today occupies about 15,500 square feet in a two-story building on the campus's northeastern edge.

The school's new stone, glass and stucco building will feature technologically advanced classrooms designed for interactive learning; expanded space for extracurricular activities; an upgraded and centralized student affairs and career services center for students to develop skills to advance their careers; and an outdoor garden and courtyard for informal gatherings and special events.

The adjoining 42,000-square-foot, two-story conference building will include a 7,500-square-foot restaurant, 14,000-square-foot conference center and ballroom. The second floor will offer 20,000 square feet of space for various university administrative units.

The Sacramento office of Sundt Cos. Inc. will serve as general contractor. Sasaki Associates Inc. of San Francisco is the architect.

Campus planners expect that both Gallagher Hall and the conference center will meet the Gold standard of Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, or LEED, certification, which would make them among the "greenest" buildings in the University of California system.

Today, only four buildings in the ten-campus UC system have earned Gold-level or higher LEED certification, reflecting energy and water efficiency, sustainable siting and use of recycled, local and environmentally sustainable construction materials. (Those four include UC Davis' Tahoe Environmental Research Center at Incline Village, Nev., which has earned the highest-possible Platinum rating.)

The third element of the Davis campus's new Graduate School of Management complex, a 75-room hotel, will be built separately in partnership with University Hospitality Group, a private Davis-based hotelier.

Joining the Gallaghers, Biggart and Hayes at today's groundbreaking celebration were UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, Frank Washington, immediate past chair of the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and CEO of Moonshot Communications, and more than 200 other invited university officials, business leaders and management school faculty, students and alumni.

Since it was established in 1981, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management has climbed rapidly in stature and recognition. For the past 12 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has rated it among the top 50 public and private MBA programs in the nation; it ranked 20th among public institutions and 46th overall in the latest survey. The school also places at the top of other rankings: This year the Financial Times rated it No. 1 in the world in the field of organizational behavior, while corporate recruiters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal rated it sixth nationally for preparing graduates for technology, Internet and telecommunications careers.

The school has also established a strong "green" reputation. The Aspen Institute this year rated the school among the top 30 worldwide for integrating issues of social and environmental stewardship into curricula and research. Through the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship, based at the school, MBA students collaborate with science and engineering students and faculty, along with experienced entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders, to envision a better world and make it a reality. The affiliated UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center focuses on the development and transfer of green technology into the marketplace, while the Center for Investor Welfare and Corporate Responsibility teaches students to manage socially responsible index funds. For the past two years, the school's student-run Net Impact chapter, dedicated to creating a network of business leaders who use the power of business to create a positive net social, environmental and economic impact, has been recognized as one of the national organization's most active chapters.

"Gallagher Hall will be a source of pride and inspiration, and a center for faculty, staff, students and alums to gather, for generations to come," said MBA student Daniel MacDonald, co-president of Davis Net Impact. "It's particularly fitting that the facility is being built to such high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability, as the UC Davis Graduate School of Management community, on the whole, is strongly committed to issues of environmental and social responsibility."

The University of California Regents in May approved the $34.5 million project, with $31.5 million in campus financing and $3 million to come from gifts.

Up to half of the $10 million pledge from Gallagher and his wife, Marcia, will be used for enhancements, improvements, equipment and ongoing operational expenses that will supplement university financing for the new management school building. The balance of the gift will establish the Gallagher Fund endowment to provide for the highest priorities of the school, including faculty and student support and program expansion.

The gift is the largest from an alumnus to the university. Gallagher, the majority owner, president and CEO of the Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company, earned his undergraduate degree in history from UC Davis in 1971 and later received an MBA from what is now UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

Areas of the new management building will be named for other generous donors. They include:

  • A large tiered lecture hall to be named in honor of Ali Abbaszadeh, as a gift from his son, Reza Abbaszadeh, CEO of the Sacramento-based Premier Access Insurance Company.
  • Several offices, classrooms and other instructional spaces to be named for faculty and advisers of the school, including former dean Robert Smiley and his wife, JoAnn Cannon; Richard and Joy Dorf; Jerome J. Suran; Robert and Helga Medearis; Paul and Eva Griffin; Robert and Sandra Lorber; and Roger Akers and his wife, Carol Waterman.
  • A central common hearth to be named for the Biggart family, as a gift from the school's current dean, Nicole, and her husband, James.
  • Offices, conference rooms, a student lounge and other spaces to be named for UC Davis alumni, including Michael and Renee Child; Gordon Hunt Jr.; Gary and Beth Brooks; and the Greg Chabrier family.

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