Dallas businessman Robert B. Rowling, his wife Terry Hennersdorf Rowling and their family have pledged $25 million to help fund the construction of a new building at The University of Texas at Austin. The 458,000-square-foot Robert B. Rowling Hall will house the graduate programs of the Red McCombs School of Business and will also expand conference and executive education capacity.
The Rowling gift marks the launch of an effort that seeks to raise $58.25 million in donations, which in conjunction with other institutional funds are necessary to complete the new graduate building. The gift also signifies the beginning of a three-phase process to replace and renovate facilities to accommodate growth in the undergraduate Texas BBA and Business Foundations programs.
Rowling Hall will be on the northeast corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Guadalupe Street, immediately west of the ATandT Executive Education and Conference Center. The University of Texas System Board of Regents is expected to review the design and development phase in May 2014, and the new building is planned to open in the summer of 2017. The project will include a parking garage that will add 525 spaces for campus parking.
"Bob Rowling already has served his alma mater at the highest level of volunteer leadership, and with this gift, he and Terry enter the pantheon of the university's most historically significant supporters," said University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers. "This building itself will embody many traits that are key to business success flexibility, common areas for interaction, and the ability to take advantage of evolving technology. And we are proud to have Bob Rowling's name on it."
Ennead Architects, an award-winning firm with considerable experience in large-scale, academic construction projects, has been hired to design the building. Key design priorities include increasing the effectiveness of interactions between faculty members and students, promoting flexibility in the use of classroom spaces, integrating new learning technologies and increasing team preparation rooms and study areas.
"Robert B. Rowling Hall will be truly transformative, enhancing the quality and reputation of our already highly esteemed graduate programs," says McCombs School of Business Dean Thomas W. Gilligan. "The building also helps us plan ahead for continued growth of our influential Texas Executive Education program, while expanding the breadth of our world-renowned faculty."
Robert B. Rowling is the owner and chairman of TRT Holdings Inc. TRT owns the luxury Omni Hotels and Resorts chain, Gold's Gym International, Tana Exploration Company and various other investment assets. Rowling has previously served on the University of Texas System Board of Regents and was also chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company. In 2005 he was inducted into the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame. Robert and Terry Rowling, as well as their son Blake, earned undergraduate degrees from the school of business.
"My family and I are passionate about the state of Texas, the University of Texas and creating educational opportunities in our state. Texas is the best place in the country to do business, and we hope this gift will encourage the best and the brightest to come to Austin to get their MBAs and be part of the phenomenon that is Texas," said Robert Rowling.
The Red McCombs School of Business enrolls approximately 4,300 undergraduate majors, 4,000 undergraduate minors and about 1,800 master's degree and Ph.D. students. There are more than 88,000 living alumni of the Red McCombs School of Business in 103 countries.