UB unveils new School of Management learning facility

Center offers peer-mentoring, new technology and classrooms

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The 2,900 undergraduates in the School of Management have a new destination for studying, tutoring and interactive learning.

UB officials unveiled the School of Management’s new undergraduate center in the Jacob’s Management Center on North Campus Wednesday afternoon. The Undergraduate Community and Learning Center, which was made possible with a lead gift of $500,000 from UB alumnus Frank Clement and his wife Marilyn, includes a lounge, recitation rooms with laptops and a new classroom.

The hub opened to students just after the start of the semester but Wednesday was the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The center also had matching funding from the Provost’s Office and another anonymous contribution.

Clement graduated from UB in 1966 and said he was amazed to see how the school has improved and expanded since he graduated.

“Words can’t describe it, it’s so beautiful,” said Clement. “I had no idea it would be so fantastic. Back in my day, we had blackboards, white chalk, and slide rules. No calculators, no computers, no TV sets. It was just a room with chairs and a blackboard … The color is amazing. We were on the old campus [South Campus] and the buildings are all gray.”

Connie Hanel, the manager of the center, was impressed with how quickly the school was able to put the center together. The project started in February.

“Though it was created in less than eight months, the idea has been around for a while,” Hanel said. “It’s almost unheard of to transform a basement into this kind of space so quickly.”

Hanel offered a tour of the center to donors and school officials Wednesday and showed the new features and spaces. Hanel also showed how the new space could improve student study habits.

The recitation center offers laptops and a teacher’s desk is in the center of the room. Instructors have access to everyone’s computer and can project laptop images from both their own computers or one of the students’ onto a screen in the room.

The classrooms have colorful, mobile desks that adjust to any sitting position. The colors are utilized to brighten the space as well as to break students off into groups based upon desk color.

“One instructor said it was the best first class she’s ever had,” Hanel said about the classroom. “She said that students were engaged and excited about the class in a way that they hadn’t been before.”

The center will offer tutoring whenever it’s open. Those students seeking help can book appointments online or on the tablets located in the center. Students will be assigned to whichever tutor is available to help at that time.

The school selects students based upon their grades. Peer mentors go through a weeklong training program that teaches them not about material, but how to instruct material to others in different ways because students have different learning styles.

Shelby Wilde is an ESL tutor who helps international students improve their English and learn about the university, Buffalo and American culture.

“I took this job because I’m born and raised in Buffalo, I love UB, and the school of management,” Wilde said. “We have a great international community but they don’t know everything about Buffalo or all that UB has to offer, so I like to give back in that way.”

Wilde uses her experience to better other students – and she sees results. She cited a few instances where students came in seeking help and when they came back the next week, they had significantly improved.

Clement and Marilyn, who now live in Seattle, come back to Buffalo around this time every year. They are staying in Buffalo this weekend to see the football team’s homecoming game Saturday.

President Satish Tripathi was also in attendance amongst other officials. He delivered a speech, along with the interim dean of the school, Paul Tesluk, about how he hopes the program will improve students in the School of Management.

“It’s to help us be able to support our undergraduates, and ultimately improve their academic success, help improve retention rates” Tesluk said. “Especially in those critical transitions, going from freshman to sophomore, and sophomore to junior year, which are so critical for their success and development.

Tripathi, like Clement, was impressed with the tour and the new technology that has been implemented. He said he hopes that it will help foster collaboration early on in students’ undergraduate years.

“When you look at the new learning style we have, look at the collaborative effort that goes into it,” Tripathi said. “The instructor standing in the middle of the room, that’s fantastic. It really allows students to interact with each other. It’s collaborate, it’s flexible, it’s fantastic.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the center was the Frank and Marilyn Clement Undergraduate Community Hub, however, that is only the name of a lounge area. 

Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at tori.roseman@ubspectrum.com.