Philadelphia University officially dedicated the naming of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce and opened the DEC Center in a ceremony on Nov. 8, unveiling the new multi-purpose building on campus that is as innovative and unique as the Kanbar College curriculum it will support.
At the dedication ceremony, PhilaU honored Maurice Kanbar ’52 H’03 as the University’s first “Innovator of the Year,” thanking the noted entrepreneur and philanthropist for his generous support of the University.
President Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D., said in his address, “Five years ago Philadelphia University took a chance. We saw an opportunity to radically advance the way we teach and the way we learn.”
“Mr. Kanbar’s vision, commitment and generosity help to make this college possible,” President Spinelli said. “Your professional life and counsel inspired us to create our new approach. Your belief in the DEC curriculum is both validating and challenging. You are a model entrepreneur with a career that demonstrates what a curious and informed mind can achieve. I’m proud to call you friend and dedicate the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce in your honor.”
The new DEC Center, designed by architecture firm Shepley Bulfinch, is 38,500 square-feet and built to LEED standards with a distinctive metal shell for climate control. It includes flexible learning space for studios, seminars, lectures and team projects, helping to advance the project-based learning and collaborative problem-solving curriculum of Kanbar College.
“The DEC Center stands as a testament to our vision of being the model for 21st century professional university education,” Provost Randy Swearer said. “It is a unique building that will foster the award-winning curriculum of our Kanbar College.”
Saul Kaplan, the founder and chief catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory, which promotes collaborative innovation, gave the keynote address at the dedication ceremony.
“I can’t tell you what an honor it is to speak here today,” Kaplan said. “The first thing I have to say is wow. Just wow. I think we could design a better future here.”
“This program creates experiences for students and faculty and the broader community that recognizes that if we are going to transform our society, we are going to have to think horizontally and not vertically,” Kaplan said. “This program is amazing. It’s schools like this that are going to lead the way to the higher education system that we all want and need.”
Earlier this year, the Kanbar College’s curriculum was selected as the top educational initiative for 2012 in an international awards contest administered by the industry-leading design publication Core77. The College, which completed its first full academic year in 2011-12, teaches students to think creatively, brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas and work collaboratively to come up with groundbreaking solutions to complex problems.