UND opens donor-funded Nistler College of Business and Public Administration – Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — At the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration, support for UND is visible. Almost every door in the three-story, 111,000-square-foot space is emblazoned with the name of a person, family, or organization that donated to the new building.
The majority of the $70 million building was funded by private donations, and in total there are 62 spaces in the building named after donors, which range from classrooms and study rooms to halls conference rooms and atriums.
“This project would not have been possible without all of these incredible donors,” said Amy Henley, Dean of the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration.
Filled with windows, open spaces for collaboration and nooks and crannies to study, Nistler’s facility opened in August and replaces Gamble Hall, a 1968 building that previously housed the College of Business and Public Administration.
A total of $50 million for the project has been contributed by private donors. The state of North Dakota donated $20 million in the 2019 legislative session, matching Werner and Colleen Nistler’s primary private donation of $20 million.
Both the college and the new building are now named after the Nistlers. Werner Nistler is a 1968 graduate of UND and founder of Touchmark, which owns 14 full-service retirement homes in the United States and Canada. He and Colleen are presidents of Touchmark.
The Grand Forks Growth Fund also approved a $1.3 million grant after the State Board of Higher Education approved a free 50-year lease with the city of Grand Forks for a workforce development center. work in the building.
In addition to the classrooms, the first floor of the building houses three different collaborative spaces that Henley calls “hubs”. They focus on faculty engagement, student engagement, and community engagement.
The faculty engagement area includes a tax aid lab and an entrepreneurship space. In the Student Engagement Center, there are rooms for interviews, a closet where students can get free work clothes, and a workforce development space.
The community engagement area is an open space with tables and chairs that can be moved around for students to do their homework and collaborate with their peers. It is named in memory of former provost Tom DiLorenzo, who was
from UND in 2020. Events in the Nistler building will take place in the space, and a wall separating it and an auditorium will open up to add more space.
The same type of movable, upholstered furniture found in the Community Engagement Center can be found throughout the building in secluded corners, shared spaces, and even in department offices. Even the tiered tables and chairs in the main auditorium are moveable, allowing the room to be outfitted with chairs if it was hosting a speaker or tables for a banquet.
“The design that went into it was flexibility,” Henley said. “So how can it be comfortable for students and also very flexible for us to use for different purposes?”
The furniture was chosen with the help of JLG Architects.
The second and third floors have more classrooms, study spaces, and faculty and staff offices.
Eventually, all 20 classrooms in the Nistler Building will be equipped with the technology to be able to run classes in a hybrid model — online and in-person — seamlessly, Henley says. With supply chain issues, some of the technology has yet to arrive, but in the future, students may decide to take classes remotely or in person on a day-to-day basis.
Originally, only four of the classrooms were going to have blended learning technology, but after the COVID-19 pandemic, plans changed.
“We were then able to turn the tide and make it the first building informed by COVID approaches,” Henley said.
So far, said Laura Arneson, director of external relations for the College of Business and Public Administration, students are using the new space to study, work on group projects and just hang out before and after class.
“Students come to campus and stay there,” Arneson said. “Before they just went to class and then they didn’t really have a place to go to Gamble before they went home.”
In a study room on the third floor, Sabrina Hasse, a marketing student and German, was recently working on her homework.
“It’s really nice to have new technology and new spaces to study in, and then all the new classrooms to work in,” she said. “Especially just in marketing, we do a lot of group projects, so now we have places like this to meet and work on projects.”
A grand opening and inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Friday, September 30 at 11 a.m., during the UND reunion celebration. The ceremony is open to the public.
“I hope they know that we all took it very seriously, that we were endowed with donor money and state investments, and that we wanted to use those investments wisely in a way that would make these different parties proud,” Henley said.