It is referred to as the ‘topping out’ ceremony. The big beam that goes on top of the building is signed by workers and everyone else present and raised to the top. The Classroom and Business Building (CBB) which is being built next to Cemo Hall was ‘topped out’ on Thursday, July 14, 2011. It was a historic moment in many ways. Enrollment growth at the Bauer College and an almost desperate need for more classrooms, meeting rooms for students and student organizations and faculty offices had built a strong case for a new building. It had been a heated discussion topic for years, had been vetted by two rounds of administrators and was finally turning into a reality.
Construction had proceeded at a brisk pace, and we cannot thank the workers enough for toiling through the 100 degree Houston heat. They are building not just a physical structure but a legacy that we hope will last for 50 years at least. That led me to think about what lies ahead for higher education in general and business schools in particular.
What will the learning environment look like in 50 years? Will technology rule the day, making physical meeting spaces extinct? Will students participate in a global classroom where the instructor leads a discussion from the CBB and have students from Houston to Hanoi, Beijing to Bangalore, share ideas and questions? Will students be able to pick and choose courses from different institutions and universities and load them into a global education shopping cart that earns them a degree or not? If information becomes freely available, what will be the value-added component of a degree? What do you think?