1961: MCCOMBS MOVES TO CURRENT BUILDING
The McCombs school moved from Waggener Hall to its present building, the Business-Economic Building, or “BEB” for short. Nicar says UT students nicknamed it the “Big Enormous Building,” as it was the largest on campus at the time.
The building featured the University’s first escalators, which apparently only went up. This was fixed in 1986, when two-way escalators were installed. The running joke until then, was that the one-way escalators signified that all students and professors would wind up on the top floor at the end of the day.
1963: THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENT GRADUATES MCCOMBS
In 1956, the first African American class was admitted to UT. Some years later, in 1963, the first African American business student, Peggy Holland, graduated with her BBA.
EARLY 1990s: THE BIGGEST CLASS EVER
Platt, today’s associate dean of the undergraduate program, notes one more significant moment in McCombs’ long history. He says the program grew rapidly over the years, with the exception of war years, and by the early 1990s, the class size was enormous. One year, they crossed over 10,000 students.
“In a funny way, that was the year we really started the modern era of the school,” he says. “We realized that we could either be that size, or we could be the kind of school that competes with the Ivy league.”
He says that the school began a downsizing process. Though he wasn’t the undergraduate associate dean yet, he says he attributes the rankings they enjoy today to that decision to shrink the school.
“Today we are right about at 4,700 students. We’re not a small school, but because we made a commitment to be a different style of school, we’re able to run it a certain way,” he says. “No more than 75 students per class, and classes get smaller as they get more advanced. It’s different from what you might expect from a large, public school.”
2016-2017: LOOKING FORWARD
Platt says so much has changed in the last 100 years, he doesn’t dare guess about the next 100. But in the near future, he says the next transition McCombs is likely to see is a more tailored emphasis on innovation and technology.
One of the benefits of being part of a large university, he says, is that they allow more flexibility to their students. And with students tailoring the program to their own interests, he says entrepreneurship will be a key trend.