In the presence of King Felipe VI of Spain, IE University officially opened its new vertical campus yesterday with compact speeches from IE founder Diego del Alcázar and his CEO son Diego de Alcázar Benjumea, a conference on entrepreneurship social, a congratulatory video from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and a multimedia show that could rival any in Las Vegas.
Guests who filled the 600-seat auditorium in the basement of what is now Madrid’s fifth tallest tower received IE navy blue masks and electronic bracelets that lit up in fluorescent colors during the event celebration to commemorate the new building in the north of the country’s capital. Over 80% of IE Tower’s 3,800 undergraduates are from outside Spain, making this shiny modern building something of a United Nations Higher Education Organization.
Business schools, of course, have built all kinds of new high-tech and sustainable buildings in recent years, but the IE Tower is unique because of its scale and scope as well as the students who will inhabit its classrooms and its corridors. It is a one-of-a-kind campus, a historic achievement for IE University, the city of Madrid, the country of Spain and all of Europe.
ONE OF THE FEW HIGH-RISE CAMPUSES IN THE WORLD, THE IE TOWER WILL ACCOMMODATE 6,000 STUDENTS WITHIN FIVE YEARS
The 180-meter-high tower occupies 35 floors filled with 64 classrooms, a fabulous room, a virtual reality module, a creativity center, an exhibition hall, a huge sports area with swimming pools, even a meditation room. for students. Classrooms are equipped with the technology to simultaneously offer face-to-face and online sessions. In total, there is 50,000 square meters of space inside the building, as well as 7,000 square meters of green space.
One of the few high-rise university centers in the world, the IE Tower has a capacity of 6,000 students, a target expected to be achieved within five years. The building occupies a prominent place amid four other already occupied corporate skyscrapers populated by executives and professionals from PwC, KPMG and other large global companies, which will undoubtedly attract many students here for projects. experiential learning, internships and full-time jobs.
Students of EI’s degree programs in everything from business and management to design and architecture who started their classes here in September can already feel the difference. “For some students,” says Marc Smelik, associate dean of BBA programs at IE Business School, “it seems a little intimidating. There is a corporate atmosphere in the place that brings out a professional attitude in our students, and many of them might end up working in environments like this.
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Laura Rojo, Executive Director of Undergraduate Programs, agrees. “There is an immediate level of importance that students feel in this building,” she says.
IE Business School welcomed a record 1,000 new undergraduate students in September, a 30% increase from the previous year, bringing the total enrollment to 3,500. Smelik attributes the growth spurt to the attraction of small IE classes of 30 to 60 students each, to a pragmatic program delivered in part by 400 adjunct professors who teach in BBA programs, and to the fact that IE was able to organize courses in anybody. throughout the pandemic.
These students realize the first dreams of Diego del Alcázar, a serial entrepreneur and art collector, who founded the school 48 years ago. Students come from 140 countries, a unique undergraduate melting pot of widely diverse cultures and origins. Many Spanish students, who represent less than 20% of the student body, have international experience. Classes are taught in English in a European capital very attached to its language and traditions. The emphasis is on innovation, entrepreneurship and change, concepts that are taught as if they were religious precepts.
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The building itself is a decidedly modern space, with design touches that make the place both welcoming and comfortable. In a student lounge, there is an artistic display of the word hello in multicolored lighting in several languages. The contemporary furniture in the many student spaces is bold and colorful. The desk of Lee Newman, the Dean of IE Business School, lacks an inch of mahogany. It’s a sort of white, sparse and narrow fishbowl in the middle of the 27th floor.
The day before the building’s inauguration, ignited by the press of a button on a stage by King Felipe, IE founder Diego del Alcázar marveled at the two digital portraits hanging on the exterior wall of the auditorium. They are so realistic that they could just as easily be hung in the Museo Nacional del Prado, the national museum of Spanish art. He proudly tells a passerby that a group of engineers from Los Angeles designed the software behind the portraits with algorithms that allow the flowers in the images to sway when the wind blows outside the tower.
In many ways, the IE Tower itself is the culmination of Alcázar’s decision to create a unique private university in the world almost half a century ago. The modest 71 years old is a great of Spain and the 10th Marquis de la Romana. His role in building from scratch a private university with 7,000 current undergraduate and graduate students, over 60,000 alumni and an unprecedented network of 30 branches around the world made this man humble, small in stature, a giant as a rare academic entrepreneur in this century.
“MY FATHER HAD A VERY CRAZY DREAM. TONIGHT WAS A DIFFICULT NIGHT ‘
He created the Instituto de Empresa in 1973, two years before the death of dictator Francisco Franco paved the way for Spain’s return to a monarchy and democracy. “My father obviously had a dream, a very crazy dream”, says Diego de Alcázar Benjumea Poets and Quants. “That night was a difficult night. Spain was at a very interesting time emerging from a dictatorship and my father saw the opportunity to make Spain an attractive place to attract top talent to Spain by founding an academic institution. Spain was changing and the world was opening up.
“In his dream,” adds his son, “he saw very clear things. His vision has evolved around several key values and beliefs: a passion for change and innovation, a desire to instill in others an entrepreneurial mindset and an education rooted in the humanities including poetry, music and literature, even in what started out as a business school.
In his father’s remarks at the opening, Diego del Alcázar paid tribute to the role of the crown in supporting the country’s higher education system. Alcázar also responded to the need of an older generation of Spanish leaders to make room for young people, just as he did by handing over the management of IE University to his 37-year-old son.
“EDUCATING THE MIND WITHOUT EDUCING THE HEART IS NOT AT ALL EDUCATION”
His speech was given behind a face mask in Spanish without translation and was attended by his heir who spoke in both Spanish and English. Benjumea, who received his MBA from rival INSEAD, made it clear the university’s mission to educate future leaders dedicated to positive change. “Educating the mind without educating the heart is not education at all,” he said.
In the end, a building, no matter how tall or large, is just a building. Far more important are the students who will inhabit this learning space for many years to come. As Benjumea says, “At the end of the day, it’s the people who come here. They seek a better understanding of themselves or our society and the world, he adds.
Immigrant students who enroll in an IE education adhere to the belief expressed by Benjumea. In their late teens, when the majority of students have no idea what to expect from life, they already know they want a career in business and entrepreneurship. More than that, they want a truly global experience with people different from them, an experience that respects the school motto “One World, Different Spirits”. They come, moreover, with the belief that purpose and meaning can be found in business to improve the world.
“THERE IS A SPECIAL TYPE OF STUDENT THAT GRAVES AT IE”
“There’s a special kind that gravitates to IE,” says Rojo, who teaches the first semester Business Building Powerful Relationships (BPR) course. For many first year students who come to Spain from cultures where feelings and emotions are rarely shared with others, his journey is an awakening. To open up students to their vulnerabilities, she tells them her class is like Las Vegas. “What happens in BPR stays in BPR,” she said firmly.
The new IE tower contrasts with the campus of the University of Segovia, located in the historic Convent of Santa Cruz La Real, where some 600 undergraduate business students study, or, for that matter, the downtown campus where graduate programs, including full-time international MBA experience, resides. The new building, however, offers the possibility of even greater expansion and reach. “We made the undergraduate program scalable because when you have a ladder, you can do a lot more for the students,” says Smelik. “You can forge more partnerships, attract more recruiters, provide more options and support more clubs. “
EI’s undergraduate business program already has over 100 electives, over 100 partnerships with schools around the world, and over 100 student clubs. This fall, the program will allow students to pursue concentrations in finance, entrepreneurship, general management and consulting, or technology. Yet despite its size and scope, the school is committed to providing students with a personalized experience. “It’s like a Lego set,” says Smelik. “We give the students a block of bricks to start with, but each one comes out with their own beautiful structure. “
And now, with the completion of the IE tower, they can assemble these Lego pieces into a beautiful structure in the heart of Madrid’s new financial center.
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