The new $37.5 million Collat School of Business at UAB transforms the look of an entire campus. It may soon transform how business is done in Alabama’s largest city.
“The facility is beautiful. The architecture is great,” said Leroy Abrahams, Head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank. “But what’s really important here is what’s taking place in this building.”
The 108,000-square foot building not only houses the Collat School of Business, but also the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“Locating the HIIE in the new Collat School of Business building creates a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship right in the heart of a campus that serves students, faculty and, also, the wider Birmingham innovation community,” said Dr. Kathy Nugent, UAB Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Harbert Institute.
“The new space supports our commitment to leveraging UAB’s powerful research engine to transfer discoveries into products that positively impact quality of life and highlights our goal to generate a pipeline of companies that promote economic development within the region.”
Local businesses have stepped up, including Regions. Headquartered in Birmingham, the bank has an endowed program: The Regions Institute for Financial Education, a 1,200-square foot financial lab that will serve not only UAB students, but the larger community, as well.
“That’s what’s unique about this,” said Dr. Stephanie Yates, an Associate Professor of Finance at Collat and Director of RIFE. “You don’t see such attention paid to financial education at a school of business.
“Here, we’ve really elevated the profile of financial education, tying in with entrepreneurship and traditional corporate business, giving it a higher profile. We’re going to be using this beautiful facility not only to educate our students, but our faculty and community.”
Elsewhere, the new building includes the Nielsen Innovation Lab, a design thinking space focused on innovation and business incubation; the Collat Tutoring Lab; the Frank A. Davis MBA Suite, which is home to the graduate business program; and the Sales Leadership Classroom and Sales Role Play Rooms.
“It’s not traditional. It’s cutting edge,” Yates added. “Even our finance lab, it’s state-of-the-art and it’s focused on leading our business students to a better future.”
The focus is not limited to UAB students. RIFE will be used for financial classes in schools throughout the city, from elementary on up. The first scheduled financial education class, a day after the opening, focused on a local nonprofit working to empower single moms of school-aged children.
RIFE classes will also include post-college students preparing for better careers.
“When you talk to commercial clients, they say they need a skilled workforce,” Abrahams said. “So much of that has to do with financial wellness and financial education. That’s why I’m very excited about this collaboration.”