Jabs Hall: Open, not just for business

The rain turned to hail. From the crystal clear windows, the storm was noticeably vibrant. With dark and dense clouds flinging precipitation at students and faculty departing from evening classes, Kregg Aytes, dean of the College of Business, noted how lucky he was to be inside the building, but not on account of the storm.

Aytes was commenting on his brand new office inside of the Jabs Hall, the new home of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Just a few weeks ago, he spoke in front of hundreds of people standing on the first floor of the new building, a space that has been aptly dubbed “the forum.”

The energy in the room was palpable. With notable speakers including MSU President Waded Cruzado, business student Holly Capp, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian and Jake Jabs himself. Parties in attendance of the grand opening had the opportunity to see exactly what the $25 million gift from Jabs had manifested into. According to Christian, Jabs vision of a building that is inviting, practical and energy efficient has been achieved with resounding success. The building is, as Cruzado put it, “a crowning achievement that will impact generations of students and Montanans to come.”

With a pound of the gavel, a ring of the bell, and a snip of the ribbon Cruzado, Jabs and Capp officially opened Jabs Hall as the running ticker that displays stock information was unveiled. Just before the building was opened, members from MSU’s Spirit of the West Marching Band made a surprise visit to play a few numbers, including the fight song.

Jabs Hall houses a variety of offices, programs and classrooms. In addition to the dean’s office and advising rooms, the first and second floors are home to the Bracken Center, the Center for Entrepreneurship and a small café that will be operated by Sola starting in August.  The Bracken Center is a career counseling resource center specifically catering to business majors. It aims to develop relationships with students and faculty in order to match employers with the workers they need.

On the second floor, the Center for Entrepreneurship, in collaboration with Blackstone, is open and accessible to all students at MSU who have innovative and practical ideas for inventing or improving technology, business models and the world of creative thinking.  “We wanted this office to be a home for business students, but also for the whole campus,” Aytes explained, “which is why we put the Collaboration Lab right next to it.”

With an inviting yet industrial look, the Collaboration Lab is a entanglement of chairs, tables, whiteboards and desks. All of the furnishings in the room were on wheels because this room full of organized chaos was intended to be just that.

“The chairs are different from the rest of the rooms and we put everything on wheels so that students could come in here and work on a project,” said Aytes, “We want engineers, artists, biologists, chemists and everyone else in here working together. That’s what this is all about.”

According to Aytes, there are a number of breakout rooms and study spaces that are open for people to come in and work. There are many areas that were designed to “facilitate collaboration” but there are also a good number of places for individual studying.

As the sky cleared a bit outside, Aytes gestured into one of the classrooms. Inside there was a man with a laptop, headphones and papers scattered about the table. He seemed to be deeply concentrated on his work.

“I have no clue who that guy is or what he is doing,” Aytes remarked, “And that is absolutely awesome.”