St. Thomas unveils new 11th Street building

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April 26, 2004 // UPDATED 1:22 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Bao Ong
Bao Ong

The University of St. Thomas announced details for a new $22 million building to house the college's entrepreneurial program on its Downtown campus, South 11th Street and Harmon Place, on April 16.

Construction on the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, named after Best Buy founder Richard Schulze, will begin in June with a September 2005 opening date. The 86,000-square-foot building gives St. Thomas a total of 494,000 square feet of classroom and office space. The St. Paul-based school has spent nearly $100 million constructing its Downtown campus.

Schulze Hall will be four stories high and contain a two-story glass atrium. There will also be a two-story, 330-seat auditorium. A skyway will connect the new school to the law school and parking ramp across 11th Street. The current cafeteria in Terrence Murphy Hall will move into the new space.

The College of Business is currently headquartered in Terrence Murphy Hall, where most business graduate students take classes. The administrative offices will be moved to Schulze Hall, where at least nine classrooms will exist on the third and fourth floors. The new building also includes more common areas for students.

Dr. Christopher Puto, dean of the College of Business, said there are currently 260 undergraduate students majoring in entrepreneurship, while 458 graduate students have an emphasis in the subject area. Puto said the new building wouldn't mean an increase in St. Thomas' total enrollment, although he hopes more students

within the college will take advantage of the new school.

Spokesperson Jim Winterer said about 3,500 students, one-third of St. Thomas' student body, attend classes on the Downtown campus. Most Downtown students attend in the evenings, but, Puto said, the new school would bring together undergraduate students, graduate students and community outreach programs for the public.

For example, Schultz Hall will house the Small Business Development Center, a cooperative venture among St. Thomas and the state and federal governments; it provides free consultations to small businesses and individuals starting their own

enterprises.

Puto said more students commuting to classes from St. Paul shouldn't worsen Downtown traffic. St. Thomas runs a shuttle service at 20-minute intervals to and from St. Paul.

Architect John Albers, president of Opus Architects and Engineers, said Terrence Murphy Hall would lose its green space, but that St. Thomas would focus on the green space in front of the law school.

Opus is designing the new school with the traditional Kasota stone and limestone trim used on buildings throughout both campuses.

"We're keeping the original look of the school. We wanted it to flow together," Albers said. "I think this addition will add to the quality of the University of St. Thomas' campus and the Downtown area."

During construction, Puto said, there should be very minimal impact on 11th Street. He said one lane could possibly be closed briefly when utility work is being completed.

Puto said he has received a positive reaction from the community and has not received any negative feedback. He said residents have supported St. Thomas' Downtown presence.

Once the school opens, Puto said, the school would likely be the first devoted to entrepreneurship in the Midwest. The school will pay for the project by using a portion of the $50 million gift made by Schulze and his late wife, Sandra.

"Like Richard [Schulze] said, we want to create a sense of community and an environment where learning is exciting," Puto said.