Five years after a landmark gift, which sparked a campaign to name the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations within the Moody College of Communication, Stan Richards has again stepped forward as a philanthropist to create a resource for students.
“The Lab” will be a physical space to house theory and practice, as each and every student who graduates with an advertising or public relations degree from The University of Texas will work on a capstone project related to their field of study in The Lab, which will function like a real-world agency. The Lab is scheduled to open in January 2021 within the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations.
Artist renderings by The Lawrence Group
Richards said his hope is that The Lab will foster a positive culture that will infiltrate the industry and ultimately serve the academic community.
“It’s a place where students can get a feel for what agency life can be like, and how rewarding it can be. I don’t mean monetarily – I mean emotionally,” Richards said. “That will better arm them for their early years in the business.”
Richards founded the Dallas-based Richards Group in 1976, and today it stands as the largest independently owned agency in the country.
Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations Director JoAnn Sciarrino said the vision for The Lab grew from conversations with Richards, who voiced a desire to help students achieve even higher levels of excellence and discipline in developing their craft. Richards was also passionate about building a training ground for students to be “better armed coming into the business … the entire industry will be well served.”
“The Lab will provide a creative, innovative and collaborative space for students to solve brand and integrated marketing communication challenges,” Sciarrino said. “We strongly believe integrating experiential learning into our curriculum with The Lab will enable our students to gain superlative career experience.”
Timely, technology-rich data sources like the new social media listening laboratory and the trend-spotters network, will provide dynamic facts, information and observations from business, culture and audiences to help students uncover meaningful insights that will lead to big, bold creative ideas.
The physical design is thoughtful in that purpose. Open seating, floor-to-ceiling glass panes and client comfort areas not only contribute to the culture of collaboration, but also replicate the feel and substance of the Richards Group.
“Nobody has an office. Nobody has a door. We’re all in an open plan,” Richards said.