Building Beyond: A look inside WVU’s new, futuristic business hub

Morgantown’s Downtown Waterfront will become home to WVU Chambers’ College of Business and Economics newest on-campus building, Reynolds Hall. 

According to the Building Beyond webpage, the building sits on the iconic riverfront site on the Downtown campus with views of the Monongahela River and direct access to the PRT. As a symbol of energy and growth, the buildings and the site unite on the edge of campus, and it aims to motivate future campus development along the river. 

“Reynolds Hall will be more than bricks and mortar: it will truly be a game-changer for how students learn at West Virginia University. It will be a connector from WVU to the world, from students across campto companies around the globe,” said Milan Puskar Dean Josh Hall.

The building features experiential learning labs donated by alumnus and WVU partners that will provide students with real-world business experience. 

Learning labs will include the Wehrle Global Supply Chain Lab, Roll Capital Markets Center, Data Analytics Lab, Social Technology and Research (S.T.A.R) Lab, Hospitality Innovation Lab, and Cybersecurity Lab. 

The Wehrle Global Supply Chain Lab created by John Saldanha, Sears Chair in Global Supply Chain Management and WVU Associate Professor, will be like a ‘minecraft’ for supply chain students.

“The lab will operate as a working space where students have the opportunity to build and see VR content. It will be a sandbox for students to try out ideas,” Saldanha said.

Saldanha hopes students will be able to use the Wehrle Global Supply Chain Lab to collaborate with other universities.

“In the traditional classroom, students tend to be a vacuum. We’ll be leveraging VR and gamifying supply chain education,” Saldanha said in a tweet.

The lab was made possible by a $1.6 million donation made in memory of Henry B. Wehlre Jr., the former chairman and CEO of McJunkin Corp. 

Naomi Boyd, the chair of WVU’s Finance Department, created the Roll Capital Markets Center with the hope of creating a training lab that would allow students to feel greater confidence when walking through a Manhattan Bank.

A partnership with Penni Roll, partner and chief financial officer of the Credit Group Ares Management Corporation, allowed Boyd’s vision of the training to come to fruition.

“Being in space and seeing what we’ve done with innovation in a few short years really speaks to what is special about West Virginia,” Boyd said in a tweet.

The Data Analytics lab created by Brad Price and Katherine Kopp aims to change the world from within West Virginia, as well as allow students to solve problems of the state through data analytics in their own space. 

“We’ve seen a great need in our state and across the nation for a workforce that understands the power of data,” said Kopp. This lab creates a big opportunity to give our students the hands-on experience to solve real world problems with immediate impact.”

Laurel Cook, associate professor of marketing, plans to use the S.T.A.R lab to take the practice of MarTech, a technique that utilizes software and tools to achieve marketing goals, to a higher level. 

“I believe that this union between technology and purpose will create a space that’s exciting yet challenging,” said Cook. “This lab space should provoke everyone involved to push boundaries that place us firmly outside of our comfort zones.”

Christopher Ramezan, assistant professor of cybersecurity in the Department of Management Systems, plans to launch the Cybersecurity Lab.

“The main purpose of our lab is to be a space to work on the most nascent cybersecurity threats affecting modern businesses,” Ramezan said. 

The lab will contain 15 workstations that simulate a small business network. The lab will also have a closed-off network isolated from the University’s network system.

“We’re a land-grant institution so we want to use the lab to help businesses in the state of West Virginia with their cybersecurity challenges,” said Ramezan in a tweet.

Reynolds Hall is named after Bob Reynolds, a WVU alumnus, and his wife. Reynolds went on to become CEO of Putnam Investments and president of Putnam Funds.

Other spaces donated by alumni include the Bill and Patricia Sheedy Experiential Learning Pavillon, the Marty Katherine Becker Academic Engagement Success Center, and the Encova Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 

The collaborative classrooms and learning labs will not only be reserved for business majors, but virtually every discipline. 

The new hall will also contain a Cafe and 128 Seat Social Chair.

“It’s very satisfying to be able to plant the seeds for other people’s success. I am delighted to help the young people of the greatest state in this country,” said Reynolds. “That’s what ‘paying it forward’ means to me.”

Reynolds Hall is located on 83 Beechurst Avenue, and will be open for classes in Fall 2022. 

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