UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Breaking ground: Rizzo Center expansion


Rizzo Center Aerial

For more than 50 years, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School has been a leader in the field of executive education. Today UNC Executive Development designs programs for Fortune 500 companies and government organizations that have a significant impact on their businesses.  Its track record is stellar: the Financial Times ranks its custom programs No. 13 in the world and No. 5 in the United States.

Having a conference center designed with executive development as its core purpose has been a competitive advantage for UNC Kenan-Flagler. That became possible after the DuBose family donated 28 acres of historic land and the family home to the university, and UNC Kenan-Flagler broke ground for the Paul J. Rizzo Center in 1997. The result: a campus designed specifically to serve the needs of executive programs, including the historic DuBose Home that serves as an executive dining facility, the first-class residence center, McLean Hall; and the state-of-the art classrooms of Loudermilk Hall.

Now in its 13th year as home to UNC Executive Development, the Rizzo Center will break ground again – on expanded facilities to accommodate the growing demand for its programs.

“We offer scaffolding for leaders to build on, new frameworks to challenge their thinking and build on through practice in our programs,” says Susan Cates, UNC Executive Development president. “Our campus at the Rizzo Center allows executives to learn in an environment where they are surrounded by their peers, and builds capabilities that individual participants can apply the next day to deliver business impact.”

The expansion accompanies projections of growth in the coming years. “The uniqueness of the Rizzo Center is that it has great proximity to campus but is in a retreat-like setting more conducive to executive training, contemplation, and strategic thinking,” says Dave Stevens, associate dean of finance and operations for UNC Kenan-Flagler. “This expansion will serve to enhance the executives’ experiences in our programs.”

The $37 million project, funded by a combination of debt and private donor contributions, will get underway this summer. The expansion and renovations are expected to be complete by the end of 2014. Among the new features the Rizzo Center’s expansion will offer are:

  • 66 new guest rooms
  • Expanded executive lounge
  • New bistro style restaurant
  • Two 70-seat classrooms
  • Two executive conference rooms
  •  30,000-square-foot courtyard designed for large-scale  events
  • Expanded fitness center and lap pool

Since the Rizzo Center opened in 2000, UNC Executive Development has consistently increased the business school’s revenues.  The continued growth will allow school to compete for the best faculty and students, expand program support and offer new, innovative learning experiences to those enrolled in executive development courses, says Stevens.

UNC Executive Development builds strong connections with its client companies that benefit both the firms and the business school. “To the extent that we’re able to have an impact on companies and individuals, that really benefits the overall brand of the business school among companies,” Cates says. “It leads them to hire more students coming out of UNC Kenan-Flagler and to encourage their employees to come to us for their MBA.”

The center is named for Paul J. Rizzo (BSBA ’50), former dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler; chairman emeritus of Franklin Street Partners; and former vice chairman of the board of IBM Corporation.