Achieving the Extraordinary

Photo of the new Lindner College of Business building under construction

How Lindner is embracing innovation and shaping business education

Daniel Gruber headshot

Daniel Gruber

The opportunity to move into a new state-of-the-art facility is a momentous milestone for our college. I have been working with the Lindner College of Business community to reinvent the student experience as we make this move. Two of the most inspiring thinkers I have collaborated with here in Cincinnati who can share wisdom on the theoretical and practical implications of our new space are Diana O'Brien, Global Chief Marketing Officer of Deloitte, and Suzanne Masterson, Professor of Management and Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. In this Q&A, they offer their insights and advice based on a wide range of experience and scholarship.

Daniel Gruber
Associate Dean for Innovation and New Ventures
Carl H. Lindner College of Business


Diana O'Brien headshot

DIana O'Brien

Why is it important for business schools and organizations to consider the impact of spatial design on students' learning capabilities?

Diana O'Brien, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte:

Albert Einstein said he never taught his students—he only tried to provide the conditions where they could learn. Providing the right conditions means considering all aspects of the experience—the content and the skills of the teacher, of course—but also the design of the physical space, the visual and other sense stimulation, the acoustics, the temperature, etc.

We take cues from our environment. We're passive and insular. Learning, innovation and big ideas are more likely to happen when people can connect and engage with each other.

Suzanne Masterson, Professor of Management, Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Carl H. Lindner College of Business:

While my research to date has focused more on workspace issues in organizations, there are lessons for spatial design in educational spaces as well. For one, it is important to consider the overall space design and the different activities in which we engage our students. Even today, we still need traditional lecture spaces: areas in which speakers of professors can deliver information to groups of students—hopefully in an engaging manner! But beyond that, we need spaces for collaborative and interactive learning—both for classroom learning and out-of-class student team use—as well as spaces for individual study and reflection.

How do collaborative spaces impact learning experiences and how are these experiences carried into the real world?

Suzanne Masterson headshot

Suzanne Masterson


Collaborative spaces foster connection and dialogue. It changes your mindset from "I am alone and need to have the answer" to "we are in this together and we can rely on one another." This opens up the opportunity to engage with different people with diverse thoughts and styles. When working in these spaces, you can build upon communication and teaming skills and they can practice what it is like to ideate with a team.


Collaborative spaces provide a significant opportunity to increase the transfer of learning from the academic setting to the real-world setting. On the hard skills side, giving students the chance to work together on a real problem helps them to directly apply the knowledge and skills they are learning in the academic context. Beyond this, collaborative spaces help students to practice the soft skills we are also trying to develop.

What are the challenges that business schools and organizations face in educating today's 21st century students?


STE(A)M-related skills are important in the 4th industrial revolution economy, but more important will be the softer, more human skills that allow us to relate to one another. Future leaders need to build empathy, listening and storytelling skills. Inclusive leadership will be critical. Organizations are focusing on diversity and inclusion to cultivate a successful workplace. Expanding to include belonging so that people feel welcome and confident to share their ideas, experiences and expertise will be useful.


I think a major challenge we face is helping students learn and appreciate the importance of critical thinking and continuous learning. The world is constantly changing, and specific methods and techniques learned today may not be relevant twenty, or even ten, years from now. Students must continue to learn well beyond the time they spend on our campus, and we need to give them the tools they need to do so. One of the themes I try to weave through my courses is having the skill of learning in your toolkit.

How should business schools and organizations reinvent the educational experience and reconfigure their physical learning environments to attract more technologically savvy students?


Embedding innovative tools and technologies in all aspects of the learning environment and in the work can foster collaboration, innovation and ideation. Technology is going to change more and more quickly, and organizations should focus on creating spaces that encourage human-to-human interaction. Technology should enhance connection and collaboration rather than isolate individuals away from each other.


I believe that hybrid models of knowledge delivery—partly via face-to-face encounters and partly via technology—are a potential win-win for business schools and students. We need to be forward-thinking in terms of how we use technology to bring the world to our campus and how we use technology to connect our students to the larger world. We also need to innovate how we bring technology into the learning experience.

Left: an architectural rendering of the new Lindner College of Business building's atrium. Right: a photo of the atrium under construction in August 2018.

Construction on the new Lindner College of Business building will wrap up this summer 2019. Left: an architectural rendering of the building's expansive atrium area. Right: a photo of the atrium area currently under construction in August of 2018.

What do you perceive as essential steps in advancing education in today's innovative space?


When focusing on designing education and innovation spaces, be clear on your desired outcomes. When designing Deloitte University, we wanted to enable our people and clients to step away from the day-to-day and into immersive learning experiences where they could engage creatively with each other. We focused on creating learning environments specific to that result, spaces that were infinitely flexible and encouraged collaboration and engagement.


I think we need to engage in "yes-and" thinking. Yes = we need to do the fundamentals well; for example, professors who conduct leading-edge research and translate it into the classroom. And = we need to go beyond those fundamentals, in terms of innovating the learning experience; for example, immersing students in collaboratives across all disciplines and programs to apply their learning to real world problems.

Innovation in action

Lindner continues to reinvent the student experience through interactive idea sharing and cutting-edge technology

Danielle Calhoun, left, and Ed Winkofsky using a lightboard

Multimedia specialist Danielle Calhoun works with Professor Ed Winkofsky to film an online instructional video using the college's new state-of-the-art lightboard technology.

Jazz music plays softly in the background as Lindner faculty, staff and students huddle in teams to jam about innovation. Welcome to the Lindner Jam Sessions, where the task at hand is to "bring people together to share ideas and start jamming with those ideas," says Daniel Gruber, associate dean for Innovation and New Ventures at Lindner. "It’s a great opportunity to build collaboration and to foster innovation," he says.

Gruber has been spearheading the jam sessions as a way to reshape the future of business education in the new Lindner College of Business building—a 225,000-square-foot, $120 million facility schedule to open in the fall of 2019. The new state-of-the-art building will offer collaborative work spaces and new technology to facilitate student engagement. Mobile furnishings, a 150-seat two-story lecture hall and 250-seat auditorium, research labs, exam and tutoring areas, huddle and breakout rooms and plenty of open workspaces will foster teamwork.

Meanwhile, Gruber is busy creating and enacting an innovation strategy and looking for ways to implement shared ideas.

New technology piloted in the classroom

Assistant Professor-Educator Michael Neugent interacting with students working in pods in Room 215

Lindner Hall Room 215 is a pilot space for innovative teaching and learning. Assistant Professor-Educator Michael Neugent interacts with undergraduate finance students collaborating in pods.

A peek inside room 215 at the University of Cincinnati's Lindner Hall is like a glimpse into the future. There, inside the traditional classroom, is a pilot project for innovative teaching. The pilot will parlay into the collaborative spaces when students, staff and faculty transition into the new building in the fall of 2019. 

Six monitors allow for groups of up to eight students to collaborate together in pods. Students can share their ideas on any one of these monitors through smartphone, tablet or laptop screen-sharing technology.

From an instructional perspective, the enhanced technology allows faculty to not only witness how students are problem-solving and collaborating on case studies, but also helps them transform the classroom environment to be more active and engaging for student learning.

Johnson Investment Lab first of its kind in Greater Cincinnati

Rendering of the Johnson Investment Lab in the new Lindner College of Business building

The Johnson Investment Lab in the new Lindner College of Business building will feature a simulated trading floor and 30 Bloomberg trading terminals, more than any other school in the region.

Tim Johnson headshot

Tim Johnson

The forthcoming Johnson Investment Lab space will be a focal point of innovation in Lindner's new building opening in the fall of 2019.

A $5 million gift from Timothy (Tim) Johnson, PhD, founder of Cincinnati-based Johnson Investment Counsel, and his wife, Janet, will establish a named institute and interactive investment lab equipped with innovative hardware and software systems, a simulated "trading floor" where students can hone their financial skills, and roughly 30 Bloomberg computer terminals—more than any other school in the region.

Johnson serves on Lindner's Business Advisory Council and is a longtime professor of finance at Lindner.

The investment lab promises to be a cutting-edge space and provide critical experiential learning tools to educate and train future business leaders for Cincinnati and beyond.

Equipping the new building with experience-based, leading-edge tools helps position the college and university for even greater success.

Tim Johnson, PhD Founder, Johnson Investment Counsel

Career Services Center gets boost from benefactor

Elroy Bourgraf headshot

Elroy Bourgraf, BBA '54

When the new home of the Lindner College of Business opens its doors in the fall of 2019, the Lindner Career Services Center will aptly bear the name of Elroy Bourgraf, BBA '54.

The Lindner alum generously donated $1 million to the college because of the significant impact UC's cooperative education programs had on his life. Bourgraf's hope is to make that same career impact on the lives of future business leaders.

"Our new career services center will allow for more collaboration and more partnership opportunities," says Lindner Career Services Center Director Kevin J. Hardy.

The new space will include a recruiter room and boast nine interview rooms to allow students and employers to discuss employment opportunities on campus.

Good as (LEED) gold

Rendering of an overhead view of the new Lindner building, showcasing the green roof

The new Lindner College of Business building is anticipated to earn "gold" LEED certification and will have a green roof.

Excerpt from April 20, 2018 UC Magazine article written by Melanie Scheft

When it opens in 2019, the newest Lindner College of Business building is anticipated to earn "gold" LEED certification for sustainability, helping to propel UC's campus as one of the most ecologically conscious and energy efficient campuses in the nation. This new structure includes sustainable wood products throughout and a lighting conservation system that adjusts to the amount of light outside of the building using daylight harvesting sensors.

"The building will also possess an intensive green roof," says Daniel Hart, sustainability coordinator in UC's Department of Planning+Design+Construction. Green roofs have multifunctional benefits; as Hart explains, they reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and therefore lessen the probability of combined sewer/stormwater overflow events. They also reduce the urban heat island effect, or the absorption of heat by the concrete and buildings, saving heating and cooling energy costs and adding to the aesthetic beauty of the buildings.

"A beautiful thing about sustainability is that it is so transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary," Hart adds. "It requires knowledge from ecology, biology, geography, planning, history, business and sociology and in the way that you and I relate to each other.