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Published: January 16, 2018 Author: Dan Pittman

Fostering and furthering student thinking, creativity and innovation has been at the core of Ohio University’s academic mission for more than 200 years. Soon, a new physical location that embodies such ideals will be centrally-located on OHIO’s Athens Campus.

The University has announced plans that C-Suite, a collaborative effort between Ohio University students, University Libraries, the Center for Entrepreneurship, the College of Business, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, the Scripps College of Communication and the Stanford University Epicenter Innovation Fellows, will be housed on the third floor of Alden Library within the heart of OHIO’s campus.

C-Suite: A Campus-Wide Hub for Collaboration, Innovation
Luke Pittaway, chair of the Management Department within the College of Business at Ohio University, said that the C-Suite’s ultimate purpose will be to serve as a nucleus that supports campus-wide student innovation, creativity and social and public innovation efforts.

“This new campus space will provide a physical hub for many of the student innovation and entrepreneurship activities taking place across campus and being led by multiple colleges, departments and centers,” Pittaway said. “Many of these activities do not have a home, and a physical space in Alden Library will enable cross-disciplinary student interactions.”

Pittaway also noted that The Center for Entrepreneurship, led by director Paul Mass and associate director Paul Benedict, will be co-located within the same Alden Library space and will be responsible for managing C-Suite utilization and student, faculty and staff engagement.

About the C-Suite Project
The C-Suite project was approved, with a total budget of $1 million, by the Ohio University Board of Trustees in January 2017. Initial plans focused on housing C-Suite within the Central Classroom building on the West side of campus; however, Associate Vice President of University Planning Shawna Bolin said that a closer examination of that location during the project’s design phase revealed additional renovation needs and requests that were beyond the scope of the approved project.

Bolin said it was at this point in the process that the team decided to take a step back with the project’s planning group to reexamine alternative campus locations that would best embody the C-Suite’s ultimate vision of providing a campus-wide collaboration hub.  

One idea that had been under previous consideration involved a potential space near the heart of OHIO’s campus under the care of Vice Provost for Instructional Innovation Brad Cohen and Ohio University’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost – the Faculty Commons area on the third floor of Alden Library.

“The Faculty Commons area embodied many of the collaborative traits that had been envisioned for C-Suite, including a flexible floorplan and plenty of room for a broad range of programming,” Cohen said. “Additionally, it’s centrally located on campus and provides fantastic accessibility for a wide range of students, faculty and staff.”

A Collective Effort to Provide a Collaborative Space
The planning team worked collaboratively with the Provost’s Office, Faculty Senate, University Libraries, the Center for Entrepreneurship and others to explore the opportunity to house C-Suite within Alden Library. The team was overwhelmed by the support and approval of all stakeholders.

“The backing that we’ve received on this project, particularly from Faculty Senate, OHIO Libraries and the Provost's Office truly demonstrates how committed this University is to providing different forms of teaching and learning infrastructures for all students,” Pittaway said.

Faith Voinovich, an Ohio University junior and University Innovation Fellow (UIF), is part of a group of University students and other UIF members who have been championing the C-Suite project at OHIO since 2015. She lauded the collaborative learning opportunities that the space can provide. 

“It’s this idea of bringing together a centralized hub that has innovative ventures in it,” Voinovich said. “It might have ideation or materialization spaces that would really connect engineering, business, arts and sciences, fine arts – everything in one place.”

Vice Provost Cohen stated it is also important to note that the C-Suite space in Alden library will develop into a collaborative campus hub for students, faculty and others. The remodeled commons will support much of what currently happens in the space in an enhanced way while additional space on campus such as Haning Hall 018 will expand opportunities for faculty development and support.

Dean of Ohio University Libraries Scott Seaman said that providing a collaborative student and faculty hub within Alden Library has the potential to increase connections and grow new ideas across OHIO’s entire campus.

“Our team is very excited to be a part of this project and to assist in finding a home for C-Suite in Alden Library,” Seaman said. “It’s our ultimate hope that this collaborative area will provide multidisciplinary opportunities and a broad range of programming to all members of the campus community.”