Vanderbilt’s Business School Plans $300 Million Florida Campus

MBA ranking

Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management in Nashville 
(Vanderbilt Photo / Rusty Russell)

Vanderbilt University is planning to expand to Florida with a business school that would be as large as the Owen Graduate School of Management on its campus in Nashville. The satellite campus would enroll some 1,000 students at steady state.

If Vanderbilt offers its MBA program in downtown West Palm Beach, the most likely site for the school, it would be the highest ranked full-time MBA in the state. Owen is currently ranked among the Top 25 in the U.S. with a 21st place finish in the latest Poets&Quants ranking. The University of Florida is ranked 25th on that same list. Since 2006, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has had a Florida campus in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables for an Executive MBA program.

Vanderbilt, which also expects to locate a college of computer science and artificial intelligence with the business school, disclosed its plans in an interview with the Palm Beach Post. “We have been thinking for a while about a potential second campus, and it became clear that South Florida, and West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, would be a great location,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier told the newspaper.

ESTIMATED COST OF FLORIDA CAMPUS WOULD BE $300 MILLION

Vanderbilt’s plans call for the campus to be built on seven acres of government-owned land that at one time was eyed by the University of Florida for a graduate campus.

On April 1, Diermeier met with government officials to gain support for the satellite campus. Among other things, he attended a fundraiser at the Palm Beach home of billionaire Stephen Ross whose name adorns the business school at the University of Michigan.  The event raised $100 million out of the $300 million sought by the university for the expanded campus, according to the newspaper.

Diermeier told the Palm Beach Post that a Florida campus would capitalize on Palm Beach County’s growing reputation as Wall Street South and provide students jobs in finance companies. “A Vanderbilt campus also would ‘turbocharge’ the creation of new businesses established by students, creating an innovation industry, Diermeier said,” according to the newspaper.

VANDERBILT EXPECTS AN EVENTUAL ENROLLMENT OF SOME 1,000 STUDENTS IN FLORIDA

If the plans go through, the estimated enrollment of 1,000 would exceed Owen’s current student body of just over 600 students, with the latest incoming class of full-time MBAs totaling 160 students. Vanderbilt boasts more than 1,100 alumni in Palm Beach County and Broward County.

Diermeier told the newspaper that Vanderbilt would only build a sizable West Palm Beach campus if it received support from the business community and government officials. He said that Vanderbilt officials have not discussed receiving state money for the venture, “although we would welcome that.”

Vanderbilt would only build the campus “if the community wants us,” Diermeier added. “One way to demonstrate that is by co-investing. We 100% need that … This is a marriage that has to work for us.”

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