DeKALB – Northern Illinois University business students will soon have a new lab in order to test out their business and product ideas.
NIU’s Finance, Audit, Compliance, Facilities and Operations Committee voted to send forward the request to spend $400,000 in donor funds to create a Creativity and Empathy Lab space on the second floor of Barsema Hall.
The new lab would be a conversion of two exiting classrooms on the second-floor level into the proposed 2,500 square feet “flexible lab,’ which would include minor interior demolition, installation of new glass walls and doors. The lab would also include all new finishing, cabinetry, furniture, fixtures and equipment within the space.
Since the committee voted for the renovation, the request will go to the Board of Trustees at their March 5 meeting.
Sarah McGill, vice president and chief financial officer at NIU, said the space would facilitate and support the development of creativity and empathy skills among students, faculty, staff, alumni, business partners and the community.
McGill said the space would be funded by donor funds.
“When looking at board regulations, they state that any modifications to facilities over $250,000, regardless of funding source, must come to the board for approval,” she said.
Before they voted to send the project request forward, Sarah Marsh, associate professor and chair of the Management Department, talked about what the lab would do for students.
Marsh said the lab presents an opportunity to engage students, faculty and staff and its focus is the process of design thinking, creativity and empathy. She said the lab will provide a space where students can brainstorm ideas.
“Whether that be solving a business problem in an organization, or developing a teaching innovation,” Marsh said.
A group of graduate students will help manage the space.
“The plans for this lab became part of the College of Business strategic initiative to strengthen our culture of innovation and experimentation,” Marsh said.