Dispatches from Tempe

Business Administration building celebrates 50th anniversary

ASU’s Tempe campus is home to more than a century of Sun Devil history and heritage. From palm trees and statues to fountains and benches, its many parts hold just as many stories. We are pleased to share one with you now, as we explore the evolution of our learning environment through one of its most hallowed halls.

Fifty and fabulous

The campus has changed quite a bit since the Business Administration (BA) building opened in 1968. To celebrate the 50th birthday of ASU’s first structure dedicated to business, this story takes us to the heyday of our beloved BA.

The W. P. Carey School of Business of yesteryear (then known as the College of Business Administration) dedicated its new Business Administration building on Oct. 9, 1968.

At the time, most of the 70 major buildings on ASU’s 300-acre Tempe campus were less than 15 years old. This particular building, however, charmed the campus community in new and unexpected ways.

For starters, it showcased so many works of art that many mistook it for a museum.

The newly erected building contained a collection of original artwork — worth over $64,000 at the time and $465,000 today — donated as part of the college’s classroom sponsorship program, which invited local businesses and college supporters to make their mark on the training ground of future leaders. In addition to supplying furniture, carpets, and art for each room, classroom sponsors brought depth and delight to the student experience.

The building housed a collection of mechanical penny banks, one of the four best numismatic libraries in the United States, a magnificent 46-foot mural depicting Copper in the Life of Man by artists Lee Porzio and Allen Ditson, paintings from internationally famed Arizona wildlife artist Larry Toschik, and portraits of all former U.S. presidents.

Its centerpiece — Cascade of Color, a dazzling multihued mobile by Scottsdale artist Dick Seeger — rose from the ground floor to match the height of the stairwell.

Designed to enhance participation and interaction, each U-shaped classroom explored a different area of our culture or environment. The Early Merchandising Room displayed products and pricing of business at the turn of the century. The Kachina Room featured a large mural and other paintings by Hopi artist Delbridge Honani. Other rooms focused on Arizona’s birds, national monuments, and trees, to name a few.

After a tour of its sponsored classrooms, a former governor of Arizona wrote that a visitor could learn as much about the growth and culture of Arizona from this building as may be gained from any other in the state. The university community hailed its functionality and aesthetics. Faculty members said teaching there made them better professors. And this story covers just a small fraction of its value back then and in the years since.

Today 50 and fabulous, our beloved BA stands alongside buildings of all ages, shapes, and sizes on ASU’s Tempe campus. Stop by to visit the W. P. Carey Career Services Center, the Seidman Undergraduate Lounge, and W. P. Carey Alumni Relations — along with your favorite supply chain, accounting, entrepreneurship, and management faculty. The BA is also home to human resources and operations, employer services, and technology services.

A swell place to live

The heart of this university exists in and in many ways because of the city and residents of Tempe, Arizona — a community we are proud to be a part of and the scene of our next trip down memory lane. Share your stories and photographs with editor.wpcmagazine@asu.edu to make your mark on a future issue of W. P. Carey magazine. We look forward to hearing from you!

By Hannah O'Regan
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