Goldy Gopher, Interim University President Jeff Ettinger, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Dean Jamie Prenkert, former dean Sri Zaheer, and Board of Advisor Chair Catherine Mathis pose at the launch event for Connecting Carlson.

Connecting Carlson building project launches

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

A new look and new name are coming to the Carlson School of Management.

Carlson School leaders, faculty, staff, and honored guests gathered Tuesday night to celebrate the launch of the Connecting Carlson building project. It will transform core spaces within the school to promote greater student collaboration, elevate experiential learning opportunities, strengthen a sense of belonging, and enhance connections with the greater business community.

“Learning, collaboration, and community spaces matter. A lot. And we’re adding many more of them with this project,” shared Dean Jamie Prenkert. “Connecting Carlson ensures that we remain competitive as a top business school by elevating and enhancing those critical connections.”

Marilyn Carlson Nelson’s leadership gift served as the catalyst for the project. Carlson Nelson, the former CEO and chair of Carlson Companies, is one of the most prominent and accomplished business executives in the history of Minnesota. Further, as a female leader, both within Minnesota and globally, in her business and civic life, Carlson Nelson is a strong advocate for the hospitality and travel industry as well as for women, children, and the greater good.

The daughter of Curt Carlson—the school’s namesake—she has long advocated for the school and the University. In recognition of her gift and lifelong engagement and support of the school, Dean Prenkert revealed the Carlson School’s flagship building will be named Marilyn Carlson Nelson Hall.

“It is my fervent hope that seeing my name on this flagship Carlson School building will attract and inspire more young women to seek business leadership as their opportunity to be a force for good,” said Carlson Nelson.

“This project will transform the building, giving students, faculty, staff, and community members more opportunities to collaborate,” said Catherine Mathis, '75 BSB & ‘79 MBA, chair of the school's Board of Advisors. “It also improves the space for the school’s hallmark experiential learning programs. With an enhanced ability to bring together community and corporate partners, the Carlson School will foster stronger connections and greater innovation, reflecting its critical role in developing business leadership and talent.”

The Connecting Carlson project encompasses about 70,000 square feet (25% of the building's total) and includes a transformation to the auditorium and atrium. Some classroom and study spaces on the lower, first, and second floors will be revitalized, including a new Enterprise Lab suite and a larger Analytics Lab space on the first floor. At the event, guests could use virtual reality technology for an interactive walkthrough of building reimagination.

The project is estimated to cost $40 million, which will be funded by philanthropic sources. As of the project launch celebration, gifts of $24 million have been committed to the project. The University will provide financing to move the project forward as the remaining funds are secured.

Given the current project scope and understanding, the plan is to start construction in December 2024 and complete construction in fall 2026. More details about the reimagination and the campaign to fund the project through philanthropy are available at