Over a decade in the making, on Sept. 19 the new building for Portland State’s School of Business Administration, the Karl Miller Center, hosted its grand opening.
“PSU is a model of openness, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation, and when you look at this building it really resembles and is a great testimony to what PSU is,” said Portland State President Rahmat Shoureshi.
Shoureshi also pointed to the center as an example of what is possible when academics, industry, government and alumni team up to make something happen.
Roughly two-thirds of the $64 million project was paid for by state bonds, with the remaining third coming from private donors. No student money was used for the design and construction of the center.
Rick Miller, business school alumnus and chairman of PSU’s board of trustees, along with his wife Erika, provided the largest contribution to complete the project. The building bears the name of Miller’s grandfather, a World War II veteran, firefighter and entrepreneur.
Miller said his contribution was in part to honor his grandfather and also to give future business students an environment more conducive to learning.
“I remember almost 30 years ago going to school here,” Miller recalled. “It was dark, it was dull, it was cramped, it was quite uninspiring. Much is different today.”
Former PSU President Wim Wiewel related a characterization of the old building offered by one former student that described the School of Business as “having great caviar in a really bad tin can.”
“Well, we upgraded the tin can,” Wiewel proclaimed to cheers and laughter.
The center is on track to be the third PSU building to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council. A wide array of sustainable construction features were designed to cut energy use by half while increasing the square footage of the building by 42 percent.
Included in the design is a central, open atrium that encourages collaboration and connectivity between learning and working spaces, and glass-walled classrooms promote the idea that education should take place in an open space and not just behind closed doors.
Luis Balderas, a student majoring in business administration, works as a project manager at the Center for Entrepreneurship, which is housed in the new building. He feels his work helping students manage projects and procuring resources from both on and off campus is an example of how the new space can benefit students.
“I feel like the Karl Miller Center will offer [students] a bigger scope to see how everything works and have more teams to come in to explore and see what resources are available,” Balderas said.
Carsten DeBakker, also a student in the School of Business, is an operations assistant at the PSU Business Accelerator. Working alongside the Center for Entrepreneurship, DeBakker’s group will house start-ups and work closely with organizations such as the Center for Entrepreneurship to forge relationships between students and businesses.
“Companies benefit from the knowledge and the resources that we can provide, and that the university can provide them,” DeBakker said. “It’s kind of a give and take, in order to bring Portland together for the business community.”