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Renovations Approved for Business School's Rizzo Center

The second phase of the Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center, located in the Meadowmont community off N.C. 54, will include adding 69,000 square feet of new floor area for meeting and classroom space, 60 guest rooms to the McLean Residence Hall and 49 parking spaces.

David Stevens, chief financial officer for the business school and director of the executive education program, said the architect and contractor who created the first phase of the Rizzo Center -- which opened two years ago -- have been retained for the second phase to ensure consistency.

Stevens said school officials hope to break ground by spring or summer and anticipate that the construction will last 15 to 18 months.

He said he hopes the construction will be completed by the end of 2004.

The classes offered at the Rizzo Center are for working professionals, many of whom already have degrees from UNC.

After a few years in the business world, many business professionals realize they need more training, said Robert Sullivan, dean of the business school.

"(Professionals) come from all over the country and the world to study at the Rizzo Center," he said.

Stevens said the renovations and expansions are just part of the business school's push to double the size of the executive education program in the next three to five years.

This summer, the 2002 Financial Times rankings listed UNC's business school as the best international executive education program at a public university.

It was ranked eighth among both public and private universities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Australia.

Although the program is consistently ranked in the top 10 among programs of its type, it remains one of the smallest of the top 20 programs.

The center's expansion is necessary in order to remain competitive, Stevens said.

"We either need to grow ... or remain flat and, by not growing, fall in some of these rankings," he said.

Stevens said the new classrooms will be modular so officials can adjust the size of the meeting rooms for classes and dinners.

The project also will include an addition to the McLean Residence Hall, where visiting professionals are housed.

Stevens said the additional guest rooms will allow larger groups, or more than one group at a time, to stay on campus together.

One of the selling points of most executive education programs is a venue with on-site training and residence where participants can network and walk to classes, he said.

Sullivan said the additions will put the school's facilities on par with its academic offerings.

"We are generally viewed as among the very best in the quality of learning opportunities we provide."

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