An Integrated Learning Environment for Business and Beyond

An Integrated Learning Environment for Business and Beyond

"Lillis is my favorite building. I enjoy classes and studying here and hanging out."

"I really like the rooms. They are well organized and more comfortable than a lot of other rooms on campus."

"I love the new building. Which one is next?"

These were just a few of the comments Fumiko Docker '05 received from business students as part of a Lillis Business Complex user survey she completed for a course taught by Associate Professor Alison Kwok from the University of Oregon's Department of Architecture.

Kwok's course illustrates how students across UO, not just business students are benefiting from the Lundquist College of Business's Lillis Business Complex, which just celebrated its second anniversary of being "Open for Business" on October 24.

 "The Lillis Business Complex is a good example of how a building can teach. It is a great opportunity for students to learn from a building right here on campus," said Kwok, explaining that her course uses the building as a case study for the successes and challenges architects face when designing buildings, especially sustainable ones.

In Kwok's class, each student conducted in-depth monitoring and/or surveys about how well the complex is performing in order to illuminate the effectiveness of the building's design intent. Docker's student survey proved particularly enlightening regarding students' level of alertness. Most students indicated that the classroom designs made them feel more alert.

Such a finding is not surprising. In fact, the 2006 edition of The Princeton Review's Best 237 Business Schools, which evaluates M.B.A. programs based on student feedback, rated the Lundquist College of Business seventh best for facilities because of the Lillis Business Complex.

According to James Chang, the Lundquist College of Business's director of Career Services, the building helps "students feel much more confident—that the institution is behind them, helping them to put their best foot forward." For Chang, this increased confidence manifests itself when students meet with recruiters and prospective employers.

That confidence also makes students more sociable, poised, and enthusiastic. Indeed, according to the Lillis Business Complex's Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) committee, which delivered its final report last spring, the building design connects people, promotes casual encounters, and offers a variety of flexible spaces for students.

The POE committee findings confirmed the college's expectations for the new building. But after two years in the building, the college is discovering that the facility not only fosters interaction among students from various business departments but also promotes interdisciplinary education for students across all university disciplines. The college did not anticipate the extent to which the Lillis Business Complex would become a hub of campus activity at the University of Oregon.

Dale Morse, the Charles E. Johnson Professor of Accounting and a member of the POE committee, explained that the building's atrium, in particular, fosters interaction and collaboration.

"Students and faculty have a lot more interaction. There is also more faculty-faculty and student-student interaction," said Morse.

The Lillis Business Complex is a tangible manifestation of the importance that the Lundquist College of Business places on integrated learning and on ensuring that students engage the University of Oregon's plethora of liberal arts educational opportunities.

That's a win-win situation for everyone.