O’Brien Hall welcomes Marquette community

OBrien+Hall+welcomed+students+to+classrooms+Jan.+17.

Photo by Alex DeBuhr

O’Brien Hall welcomed students to classrooms Jan. 17.

Last week, O’Brien Hall welcomed students and faculty on the first day of classes at the start of the spring semester, Jan. 17.

“This building embodies what is great about the Marquette spirit — people coming together, doing something larger than themselves,” Tim McMahon, vice president for university advancement, said.

McMahon said whether that be the 250 donors that funded O’Brien Hall or all of the campus partners that came together to work on the building, everyone brought something special for the new school that will be on campus for the next several decades.

Tim Hanley, keyes dean of the College of Business Administration, said the Dr. E.J. and Margaret O’Brien Hall was funded 100% through donor funding. Hanley said this is something that has never happened before throughout Marquette’s 140-year-long history.

“We told prospective students and families that they could have seven out of eight semesters in the most state-of-the-art space, probably in the country, for a business school,” Hanley said. “And last year alone, our enrollment in this college went up 40%.”

Hanley said something they took into consideration when planning the building was the student experience.

“With every project that we do on campus, what makes it work and what makes it rewarding is the impact it has on our students,” Lora Strigens, vice president for planning and facilities management, said.

Two of the new rooms in the building that contribute to the student experience are the pitch pit and the Applied Investment Management Lab.

“Think about this [the pitch pit] being a shark-tank sort of environment,” Hanley said. “We have our students help invest in some of our endowment funds, and every week we ask our students to recommend stocks to buy and sell. They pitch that idea to a group of their peers … so we’re going to use this as the pitch room.”

The AIM program consists of finance majors to receive financial analysis experience firsthand. The AIM Lab is a computer-lab-like room where AIM students can go to do work, meet and take classes.

The dean’s suite also pays homage to the late Joe Daniels. Hanley’s office is dedicated to Daniels with a plaque honoring him. Daniels served as the dean of the College of Business Administration from 2019 to 2020.

Hanley said he’s grown close with Daniel’s family and has walked his wife around the new building on several occasions.

“I sat with Joe in the early days … There’s just no doubt that yesterday and today as we opened these doors that he is smiling,” Hanley said. “Every day when I walk in [his office] I see Joe Daniels and I think that’s going to last forever.”

Hanley said that Daniels “hand-selected” individuals to come together to plan the building for the students.

Only having taken classes in the former-business school, Straz Hall, for one semester, Kyle Pintar, a first-year in the College of Business Administration and desk receptionist for O’Brien, said he likes the new building a lot more than Straz.

“Especially with my role as a desk receptionist, [at Straz] there would be a little thing where you walk in and then go to the right and there’s another door into the main office and I would work behind there,” Pintar said. “Whereas now with the new desk, it’s right in the lobby in an open area.”

Pintar said this is much more engaging and allows him to interact with more students.

Although he enjoys the more modern feel of the building, Pintar said he’s disappointed that the new building doesn’t have a computer lab like Straz did.

“AIM students have swipe access to get into the AIM Lab, so that’s kind of a computer lab, but Straz had its own computer lab for anyone to get into,” Pintar said.

One of the goals when constructing the new building Strigens said was to think about how to reuse things that were previously on the site.

Prior to the O’Brien building, McCormick residence hall sat where the new business school is located. Strigens said The Brew Cafe inside the building also recognizes McCormick with the green tiles that wrap around the shop that were once in McCormick’s dining hall.

Strigens also said that the trees they tore down to build O’Brien were reclaimed into the countertops and doors in the cafe.

“This week is something we’ve been waiting for, for a year-and-a-half,” Hanley said. “To see our students in classes, smiling, using all corners of this facility — this is exactly what we’ve been dreaming about.”

Kiley Brockway and India Lock contributed to this report.

This story was written by Julia Abuzzahab. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @juliaabuz