Students walking by the first floor of Ettinger have probably noticed that classroom 105 looks markedly different from the spring semester. With new screens, brighter lighting and updated tables, the remodel provides a jolt of modernity in an otherwise historic academic building. According to Assistant Professor of Economics Lindsey Nagy, Ph.D., the Muhlenberg Accounting, Business, Economics and Finance (ABEF) department had been planning on transforming Ettinger 105 into a finance lab for many years, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus delayed the planning and implementation of those ideas.
Nagy explained that creating a vision for the space was “a collaborative effort between faculty, mainly those in the ABEF Department and other campus offices to create a learning environment that would allow students to be immersed in financial data and market conditions.” To help achieve that vision, Nagy elaborated that the remodel equipped the room “with monitors that can display real time market data which allow faculty to easily integrate current conditions into discussions and lectures. There will also be a financial ticker installed before the start of the spring semester. Additional software and data licenses are also being acquired that will provide students with the experience of managing a portfolio and utilizing the metrics Wall Street investors use in assessing market conditions and performing predictive forecasting.”
However, the changes go past the classroom; there were additional TV monitors installed in the hallway. According to Nagy, those monitors “will highlight the research, internships and career outcomes of the ABEF students as well as the investing success of Muhlenberg’s Investment Society, [which] is a student club that manages an investment portfolio of close to $1 million.”
While the primary focus of the remodel was to enhance the Muhlenberg experience for ABEF students, the remodel was inclusive of all disciplines. Inside the classroom, computer monitors were specially installed to flip-down, allowing the room to be multifunctional and “support a variety of teaching pedagogies,” says Nagy.
The inclusive nature for the remodel was also reflected in how it was funded. Provost Laura Furge, Ph.D., explained that all funding decisions are guided by Muhlenberg’s mission which states that “All members of our community are committed to educating the whole person through experiences within and beyond the classroom.” In practice, this means that the College prioritizes the student experience when apportioning its annual budget “to ensure that our campus is innovative, safe, modern and attractive.”
To make sure that goal is realized, Furge stated that “each year’s annual budgeting process includes allocating funds for physical improvements, from basic maintenance to more sophisticated efforts.” When it comes to specific projects like the Ettinger remodel, “faculty and staff originate [the] ideas years in advance. They are vetted by the College’s senior leadership team and prioritized in accordance with available funds. The Finance Lab, Ettinger 105, was funded through this process. Just like the other projects, a proposal was submitted several years ago and we were able to move forward this year with the project.”
Students have had mixed feelings about the remodel. Asher Bejar ‘26 likes some aspects of the remodel, saying that “being in there learning is like being in any other classroom, [but it is] cool that they have computers in the desks.” However, there are also aspects he is less excited about. “I found the window for tour groups a little off-putting, and the glass doors seem a little bit too fancy,” he stated. “The TVs in the back of the classroom are annoying for the professors, as they no longer have a computer in front of them.”
Jordyn Green ‘24 likes a majority of the changes as well: “I really enjoy the changes overall,” she said. “I think that the setup of the room is great and it makes it easy to see the board without being blocked by another student. Having two Smart Boards makes it easier to see all of the information in PowerPoints. With that being said, the whiteboards are sometimes hard to see with the glare from the light, but having them all over the room is helpful.”
Aaron Gianchandani ‘24, a member of the Wall Street Club, finds the changes incredibly useful. “The changes in the room are great and give the building a newer look that shows that Muhlenberg College is keeping up to date on the technology,” Gianchandani described. The changes are also helpful from a learning perspective, with Gianchandani stating that “The changes help [improve the] learning environment because there are four screens in the room all showing the same information. The computers are no longer in the way and causing a distraction to learning.”