Published: Nov. 8, 2021 By

Students, faculty and staff have been energized by the brand new building connecting the business and engineering schools, enjoying its classroom and collaboration spaces, as well as its extraordinary Flatirons views.

On an exquisitely warm and sunny Sunday, the first-generation high school and college graduate, Tandean Rustandy, now a highly successful Indonesian entrepreneur who was instrumental to making the building possible, was on hand to celebrate the official grand opening of the Rustandy Building. But that wasn’t all: Rustandy also announced his latest gift to CU––$1.25 million to fund scholarships. 

Tandean Rustandy speaks during the grand opening event

Tandean Rustandy speaks during the grand opening event. Photo by Casey A. Cass/CU Boulder.

“This shows that anything is possible if you truly put your mind to it––that someone like me who came from very little can make an impact in this world,” said Rustandy, who graduated from the Leeds School of Business in 1987 and was in town for Homecoming weekend. “I’m an entrepreneur who had a vision to change the world, to leave a lasting mark to make this world a better place.”

Over the years, Rustandy has given more than $10 million to CU Boulder, including a major gift to name the $45 million Rustandy Building. During the grand opening, guests and supporters heard from Chancellor Philip DiStefano and deans of both schools, and enjoyed tours of the space, along with performances by College of Music students and some dancing with Chip. 

The state-of-the-art facility connects the Koelbel Building, which houses Leeds, to the College of Engineering and Applied Science complex, making it unique among institutions of higher education. 

DiStefano thanked Rustandy, and all donors for their support in making this dream come to life.

“Every day the world is becoming more collaborative, dynamic and technologically advanced, increasing the need for stronger alignment between our two disciplines,” DiStefano said. “This is the motivation behind the business and engineering partnership, which will serve as an example of what higher education can do in collaboration with industry partners and society-at-large to impact humanity.”

Pursuing a dream in Boulder

Rustandy, one of the top CEOs in the Republic of Indonesia and founder of the Jakarta-based PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk, has said his desire to do good for others is at the root of his philanthropy.  

“No one will remember how wealthy and powerful you are, but people will remember the good that you’ve done, and the impact that you leave behind.” 

He also credited his time at CU for opening up doors he never imagined. He joked about wearing a gold-toned jacket at Sunday’s event as evidence of loyalty to his alma mater. 

Rustandy grew up working for his family’s business and living in a crowded home with his extended family. After his grandfather died, the family business went bankrupt and he realized that if he wanted to see the world, build his own business and make an impact on the world, he needed a quality education.

So, his parents saved enough money to send him to college at CU Boulder, where he worked his way through school. He quickly fell in love with the Colorado mountains and community. The area’s entrepreneurial focus seeped into him.

“I wish my mom could be here,” said Rustandy, as he gave remarks beneath an archway made of gold, silver and black balloons. “If not for my mom, I would not be standing here today.”

Rustandy spoke fondly of his many ‘firsts’ in Boulder, and said he never would have imagined when he was a student that there would be such a magnificent building bearing his name.

“I have so many good memories of living here, and so many important changes in my life happened here. CU Boulder was the start of much of my success, and I am honored and humbled to be able to pay my success forward by supporting this building and the students who will pass through it.” 

After graduating, he returned home to Indonesia and joined the lumber business before transitioning into tile. Throughout his career, Rustandy has emphasized job creation, education, health and child care as key pillars of his business models.  

Rustandy has also continued to support his alma mater. 

Interim Engineering Dean Keith Molenaar, Chancellor Phil DiStefano, Tandean Rustandy, CU Interim President Todd Saliman and Leeds School of Business Dean Sharon Matusik

The ribbon cutting for the new Rustandy building grand opening event. Pictured left to right: Interim Engineering Dean Keith Molenaar, Chancellor Phil DiStefano, Tandean Rustandy, CU Interim President Todd Saliman and Leeds School of Business Dean Sharon Matusik. Photo by Casey A. Cass/CU Boulder.

His latest gift supports the 45,000-square-foot building bearing his name. The building connection opened somewhat quietly in January 2021, with the official ribbon cutting delayed due to COVID-19. 

The building features an innovation and entrepreneurship hub; four state-of-the-art active learning classrooms; a 200-seat high-tech auditorium and event space; and a renovated business library. It was built to LEED Gold standards for sustainability. 

Breaking down disciplinary barriers

The partnership between business and engineering also includes programmatic elements, such as a joint MBA and computer science program, construction engineering and real estate partnerships, cross disciplinary project management courses, interdisciplinary student teams, collaborative recruitment efforts, and joint career excursions. 

The engineering and business programs have also launched the Business and Engineering Technology Scholars Program, a cohort learning environment providing: action-based learning experiences, industry engagement and mentorships, strategic career coaching, intensive tech training, a tight-knit peer community, and professional network development for top students. Fifty students are now enrolled.

Leeds Dean Sharon Matusik said students come to CU Boulder with bold dreams that  are not confined within the literal or figurative walls of colleges, schools and academic units, or within the other rigid structures of higher education.

“Students want to build things and turn ideas into innovations in the market,” she said. “This new space that joins our world-class engineering and business programs is designed to facilitate that. It communicates that addressing opportunities and the challenges on the horizon requires collaboration––across disciplines and between the campus and the broader community.”

Acting Engineering Dean Keith Molenaar said he is excited about the potential of the building and its interdisciplinary focus.

“Bringing the engineering and business communities more closely together through this expansion creates greater opportunities for entrepreneurship that will strengthen partnerships, encourage exchange, and develop students who are prepared for the challenges, and the jobs, of the future,” Molenaar said.