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Business college gets $12.3 million for new building

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Mike and Lynn Cottrell, pictured at a bill-signing ceremony held in April on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, have given $10 million to fund construction of the Cottrell Center for Business, Technology and Innovation.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) Mike Cottrell College of Business will have a new home in 2022, thanks to a second $10 million gift from its namesake benefactor and $2.3 million in state funds for planning and design this year. The building will be called the Cottrell Center for Business, Technology and Innovation.

The 91,000-square-foot business and technology building, with an estimated total cost of $35 million, will be located on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. The planned site is just off Chestatee Street near the main campus entrance. Groundbreaking is anticipated to take place in 2020, and construction is expected to take about two years.

"I am grateful to Mike and Lynn Cottrell for their exceptional generosity," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said. "The Cottrells have made the two largest contributions in UNG’s 145-year history, and, in doing so, they have provided transformational support for our students and graduates to be regionally and globally competitive business leaders."

The announcement of the $10 million gift places the Cottrell family's contributions to UNG at more than $20 million and was announced June 7 at the quarterly meeting of the UNG Foundation Board of Trustees.  Mike Cottrell is a trustee emeritus of the board.  

The Mike Cottrell College of Business, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs in business and technology, enrolls more than 4,600 students and accounts for 24 percent of the university's entire enrollment. Since January 2013, the college has experienced significant growth in enrollment and major changes in programs through demand for new programs and innovation. At UNG’s Dahlonega Campus, the college occupies most of the Newton Oakes Building, and additional faculty offices and classrooms are scattered across campus in other buildings; the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership are located off the main campus.

Dr. Mary Gowan, dean of the Mike Cottrell College of Business, said the new, stand-alone building will strengthen current programs and support new academic offerings with learning environments and technology not currently available on any UNG campuses.

"Currently, business courses and faculty are spread across multiple buildings, which diminishes the synergy that results from being in a common space," Gowan said. "This facility will create a technology-rich learning environment to ensure our students are well equipped for modern high-demand workforce opportunities, thus ensuring we are competitive with leading business and technology schools."

Spaces planned for the new building include:

  • Cybersecurity range
  • Computer forensic lab
  • Computer science and information systems hardware and networking labs
  • Data visualization, analytics, and logistics/supply chain lab
  • Digital marketing command center and social listening lab
  • Professional sales and marketing research lab
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation lab
  • Multipurpose room that can seat 240 for seminars, 540 theater-style or 304 for banquets

Additionally, conceptual plans for the building include multi-use computer labs, tiered classroom space, flexible classrooms and computer labs, a student success center, team meeting and study areas, and faculty and staff offices.

Instrumental in keeping the $2.3 million for design funds in the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget were state Sen. Steve Gooch and state Rep. Kevin Tanner. Both are UNG alumni and represent districts that are home to the Dahlonega Campus.  Additional state funding for construction and equipment will be sought in subsequent years.

"We're fortunate and appreciative to have the exceptional advocacy of great philanthropists like Mike and Lynn Cottrell. It's rare to find this level of generosity and we're lucky to benefit from that right here in Lumpkin County," Gooch said. "I'm excited to help facilitate the growth of the Mike Cottrell College of Business and enable the college to expand its programs that will support future economic development and produce the business leaders of tomorrow."

Tanner touted the opportunities that will be provided for local students.

"I'm proud to be part of this project that will allow the Mike Cottrell College of Business to become an even stronger partner with state and local governments to support economic development across our region," Tanner said. "As more businesses seek to locate in northeast Georgia, UNG's business students will be in demand for their business acumen and their leadership qualities. This growth also provides more opportunities for our students to grow up in northeast Georgia, go to school here, and become leaders of industry here."

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