MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University had the chance to show off its latest state-of-the-art building to state lawmakers on Monday with President Gordon Gee leading the tour of Reynolds Hall.
The building, located along Beechurst Avenue in Morgantown where Stansbury Hall used to be, is the new headquarters of the John Chambers School of Business and Economics. Students are expected to begin taking classes there in the fall.
Gee told Morgantown lawmakers at monthly interim committee meetings that Reynolds Hall is a vision of what the future of business and education will look like.
“This facility is a laboratory for creative thinking,” Gee said. “It’s not a building, we don’t build buildings in our university, we build ideas and turn them into reality.”
The facility has a 4,000 square foot co-working space, 50 interview/conference rooms, recreation center, cafe/dining room and is connected to the Mon River Rail Trail .
Some highlights of the building’s design are the Hayhurst Ideation Hub – a single pillar supported room with a capacity of 66 where students can brainstorm or make a formal business plan presentation. The Holyman social stairwell transforms the passage from one floor to another by adding collaborative spaces similar to the social stairs of Googleplex. The Roll Capital Markets Center is equipped with ticker machines, Bloomberg terminals that expose students to real-time financial data.
Chambers B&E Dean Josh Hall said they place students in an interactive business environment that encourages innovative thinking and problem solving. A current student was able to tour the building and compare the experience it will provide to her internship at a Fortune 500 accounting firm.
“I did two internships at E&Y (Ernst & Young Global) and it feels like a corporate campus like you’re at Google or Apple,” Hall said. “You’re going to spend a lot of time there because you want to spend a lot of time there.”
Throughout the building and program, there are avenues businesses can cross with students to provide as authentic an experience as possible. Companies can also provide information that will allow course offerings to change slightly to meet industry needs or standards.
“Teach them what’s cutting edge in global supply chain, digital marketing and cybersecurity and let them see it firsthand,” Hall said.
The building is named after Bob and Laura Reynolds and did not compete for taxpayer dollars. Bob Reynolds is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Putnam Investments and Chairman of Putnam Funds and holds a BS in Business Administration, Finance from WVU and an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration. .
“This is about the investment we’re really making in the future of West Virginia, because it’s about business, business, business relationships and the world that comes from it,” Gee said. .
State Higher Education Chancellor Dr Sarah Armstrong Tucker addressed lawmakers in the 300-seat auditorium last year, telling them the number of seniors enrolled in college was of 46%, down 2% compared to the previous year. She said the building is an example of innovative ways to get high school students interested in attending college.
“What WVU is doing with this space is really thinking about how to reach the business world and really partner with them and give their students the opportunity to apply what they learn, not just in a classroom, but to apply it in a work experience so they can be successful when they enter the workforce,” Tucker said.