Former Regent Donates $25 Million for New Business Building

Powers, McCombs, the Rowlings, Gilligan

The best graduate business school in Texas is about to get a little bit better—or at least bigger. Thanks to a $25 million gift from Dallas businessman Robert B. Rowling, BBA ’76, Life Member, and his family, the McCombs School of Business’ grad programs will soon have a new home.

The Rowlings’ donation marks the initial effort of a project that seeks to raise $58.25 million for the construction of Robert B. Rowling Hall. The 458,000-square-foot building will be constructed on the northeastern corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Guadalupe and will be accompanied by a 525-space parking garage. Late-night burger joint Players—whose lot UT purchased last spring—will be razed to provide space for the building.

The expansion comes at an opportune time, as the Red McCombs School of Business is full to the brim with 4,300 undergraduates and 1,800 master’s and doctoral students enrolled. McCombs is also among the most competitive schools on the Forty Acres: of the 7,122 freshmen who applied in 2012, only 1,403—about 20 percent—were accepted.

Aside from providing additional classroom space, Rowling Hall is intended to expand conference and executive education capacity.

Rowling—who served on the UT System Board of Regents from 2004-09—is the owner and chairman of TRT Holdings Inc., a company that owns Gold’s Gym International and Omni Hotels and Resorts chain, among others. It’s safe to say that the Rowlings are Longhorns through-and-through: Robert, his wife, Terry, and his son, Blake, all graduated with McCombs degrees.

“Bob Rowling already has served his alma mater at the highest level of volunteer leadership, and with this gift, he and Terry enter the pantheon of the University’s most historically significant supporters,” UT President Bill Powers said in a statement. “We are proud to have Bob Rowling’s name on [the building].”

The design of Rowling Hall has been contracted to Ennead Architects, and is slated for completion in 2017.

From left: UT President Bill Powers, Red McCombs, Terry Rowling, Robert Rowling, and Dean Tom Gilligan.

Photo courtesy of Steve Moakley.


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