Concordians stake out the footprint of a new academic building

Concordia University Wisconsin will break ground next week on an approximately 41,000-square-foot academic building that will support entrepreneurial collaboration and health care innovation.

The CUW community and its supporters will gather at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, at the building site to commemorate the moment. The new building will extend from Luther Hall and will be visible from the university’s main entrance.

The proposed three-story building, which is expected to be completed by fall 2019, will be named The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, after a naming gift given by the Robert W. Plaster Foundation. It will house Concordia’s Batterman School of Business, and will provide a space where Christian business ethics will be modeled and collaboration among various academic disciplines will occur.

“For years Concordia has been recognized for having the largest MBA program in the state, and more students major in business than any other degree program in the university,” says President Rev. Patrick T. Ferry, PhD. “These expanded facilities, combined with Concordia’s focus on real-world business application and our distinctly Christian worldview, will serve to strengthen and enhance our already-vibrant and effective academic offerings.”

The building will feature multiple classrooms, offices, and mixed-use rooms such as laboratories, work rooms, analysis centers, and public areas. State-of-the-art features will also include:

  • An incubator and collaboration space for students, faculty, and the local business community to come together and form startup companies. This dynamic, cross-disciplinary center will partner students with educational mentors and successful local entrepreneurs as learners receive guidance on forming a business and launching products and services into the market.
  • A meeting space for the Remedium eXchange think tank, an effort of Concordia’s Batterman School of Business. The Rx think tank is a consortium of Wisconsin business leaders who share a goal to consumerize health care by incentivizing, educating, and empowering consumers in transparent markets.
  • A medical clinic that will model the consumerization of health care using free-market principles. The clinic will be co-managed by faculty and students in CUW’s growing health care administration program. Notably, it will deliver top-notch health care while providing experiential learning for both business and health professions students.

With half of Concordia’s six academic schools devoted to health care disciplines, there exists a built-in opportunity at CUW to fuse business and health care learning. Concordia has demonstrated its leadership in this area in various ways, including by leading multiple start-up or accelerator competitions designed to support participants who are developing innovative health care solutions, and by hosting annual summits on the topic of the business of health care. Last year’s inaugural Healthcare Economics Summit drew nationally recognized speakers including Gov. Scott Walker. This year’s event, on April 11, welcomed Dr. Barbara L. McAneny, president-elect of the nation’s largest physician organization, the American Medical Association.

For the past five years, Concordia’s MBA program has topped the Milwaukee Business Journal’s list of largest MBA programs within a 100-mile radius of Milwaukee, including that of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Of the 819 students enrolled in CUW’s MBA program, 90 are pursuing the health care administration track—a number that has doubled in the past three years.

The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center will provide a space to nurture its popular business offerings and expand upon free-enterprise educational opportunities.

“The free economy offers an array of insights—on innovation, competition, transparency, continuous improvement, and more—from which the fields of health care, education, business, and others would deeply benefit,” says Batterman School of Business Dean Dr. Daniel Sem. “Business and market principles can enhance not only the efficiency of work in many of these industries, but also the quality of it.”

The building is made possible thanks to the support of multiple donors from the business community, as well as families, friends, and alumni of Concordia.

Philanthropic support for this building has already been substantial but more needs to be done to complete the project. If you or your business would like to be part of this innovative project, please contact Vice President of the CUW Foundation Dean Rennicke at or 262-243-4580.

The groundbreaking ceremony is open to all those interested in attending. No reservation is needed. For more information on the ceremony, contact Vice President of Advancement Rev. Dr. Roy Peterson at or 262-243-4533.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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