Leicester launches renovated home for School of Business

Professor Dan Ladley, Professor Henrietta O’Connor and VIP guest Sam Barnett plant a ceremonial tree, and Sam Barnett and Professor Nishan Canagarajah unveil a plaque to formally open the University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB)'s Brookfield campus.

The £15.8 million restoration of the University of Leicester Business School (ULSB)’s home was formally opened with a special ceremony on Thursday.

Leicester’s Brookfield campus, set in seven acres in the historic Stoneygate Conservation Area, has been sympathetically restored to offer a variety of state-of-the-art learning and teaching spaces, including a Harvard-style lecture theatre and the ULSB Trading Room – home to 16 dual-screen Bloomberg terminals – all focused on creating an outstanding environment for students and researchers alike.

The ceremony was lent special significance in the University’s Centenary year as Brookfield was once home to Thomas Fielding Johnson, founding benefactor of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland University College.

Brookfield House was built in 1870 and served as Fielding Johnson’s family residence. Descendants of the prominent Victorian business leader unveiled a specially-commissioned portrait in his honour.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah with descendants of University founding benefactor Thomas Fielding Johnson at unveiling of a portrait of the prominent Victorian business leader.

The event also featured a keynote speech and Q&A by guest of honour Sam Barnett, a Leicester alumnus and successful entrepreneur in the field of technology and big data – areas of strategic focus for the School of Business.

Speaking at the ceremony, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah said: “The transformation of our Brookfield Campus has been a flagship project for the University, and I am delighted to see the tremendous facilities already being put to great use by our students and researchers.

“For us to cut the ribbon here in our Centenary year is especially significant; this campus is directly linked to one of our founding fathers, and we have been conscious to honour the legacy of Thomas Fielding Johnson in this sympathetic renovation of his former family home.

“We hope that, through a mix of old and new, these facilities may also stand for the next 100 years in providing research-led education for our future leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Sam Barnett, who graduated from Leicester with an LLB Law in 2004, is a former President of $200m technology talent investment fund Entrepreneur First, and has worked with not-for-profit organisations transforming the lives of refugees through technology and pathways to digital opportunities.

After selling his ecommerce marketing business Struq to Quantcast in 2014 – where he was retained as the Chief Product Officer until 2019 – Sam later co-founded RESOLVE, which aims to provide scientists with the most effective path to roll out carbon capture and storage solutions.

Speaking at the event, Sam Barnett said: “I look back on my time at Leicester with real fondness. The environment that you’re in is like an invisible hand that shapes you, in many ways.

“One of the things the School has done so well with these facilities is in the blending of the traditional with the new.

“It felt like walking through the doors of a technology company – it’s a great environment for students to be in and can only help their transition into business, in ways that they might not even realise until they make that move.”

Professor Daniel Ladley, Dean of the University of Leicester School of Business, added: “The Brookfield campus offers a flagship home for ULSB, and is a fitting centre of excellence for our community of leaders, innovators and change-makers.

“These restored facilities – reflecting on our past as well as looking to the future – will help enable continued, high-quality education and pioneering research across our internationally renowned areas of expertise.”

Find out more about the history of Brookfield at le.ac.uk/centenary/our-100/buildings.