The cycle of life – and rejuvenation and renewal - is not limited to living beings.
As the West Virginia University community and friends of the College witnessed, rebirth has livened up Morgantown and its riverfront.
We witnessed – with Jerry West’s blessing – the end of an era with the dismantling of the old Field House/Stansbury Hall.
We witnessed crews, hard at work, plowing and digging and building on the newly vacant lot.
We witnessed the skyline along Beechurst Avenue slowly fill back up.
And in Fall 2022, we witnessed the beginning of tomorrow with the official opening of Reynolds Hall, in all of its majestic 186,000 square feet.
The innovative business school complex has laid the foundation for the future of business education and a breeding ground for tomorrow’s leaders.
This transformation began with a vision in 2017, when College alumnus and financial investment icon Bob Reynolds and his wife Laura contributed $10 million to push a plan to fruition.
With Reynolds Hall now standing proud and in full force, members of the College community are awed, to say the least.
Inside the Wehrle Global Supply Chain Lab, students get to experience multiple new worlds.
One being the lab itself – a fresh playground for students to immerse themselves into digital environments through virtual reality, a space nonexistent at the old College building.
The other new worlds exist in what they see through the VR lenses.
“The lab space is excellent,” said John Saldanha, Sears Chair in Global Supply Chain Management and associate professor. “The technology allows us to be more flexible.”
During one of his supply chain quality classes, Saldanha guided students through a VR simulation of an ice cream manufacturing line. The scenario let students collect data for statistical process control and better understand quality controls for examining container filling.
The class also embarked on a VR field trip to Welspun, a linen manufacturing facility in India that produces sheets and towels for the global market.
Saldanha likes to refer to the lab as a “Minecraft” for supply chain studies.
The lab was made possible through a generous $1.6 million gift made in memory of Henry B. Wehrle Jr., former chairman and CEO of McJunkin Corp. The donation is a continuation of the Wehrle family’s vision to create a leading Global Supply Chain Management program at WVU. Their initial $1 million gift kickstarted the program and brought Saldanha to WVU in 2014.
Recognizing the lab’s impact stretches beyond the faculty and students. Alumnus Michael Stolarczyk, who serves on the College’s Visiting Committee, tested out the virtual reality platform during Reynolds Hall’s grand opening. Stolarczyk, currently managing director of Seko Logistics, has assisted Saldanha in creating 360-degree content from the Port of Mobile/AP Moller Terminals, South Carolina State Port Authority, Georgia Port Authority’s Appalachian Regional Port facility and the Port of West Virginia facility.
Although Stolarczyk has enjoyed a prosperous career in logistics, transporation and supply chain for more than 35 years, he’s envious of what the new building has to offer.
“The labs and degree track would have been huge (for me as a student),” he said.
Create a culture, empower the believers and share the success.- Michael Stolarczyk
“However, the best aspect would be all of the open spaces to learn, collaborate and relax in Reynolds. The view, and being part of the river, would actually draw me to never leave the building. To be clear, my education from the Chambers College was in Armstrong Hall…which was dark, cramped, old and not dynamic! Reynolds Hall creates a personalized atmosphere for each student to want to be included, to be a part of the team, experience and education. It’s an amazing space that speaks to the individual student’s needs and desires.”
Saldanha agrees that the most attractive feature of Reynolds Hall is the collaborative, personalized space for students.
“You can come in and essentially meet and work at any location in the building,” Saldanha said. “With the technology, everything is seamless. In the old building, I’d meet with students in rooms with no windows and the HVAC was terrible. We’d all get tired and sleepy. But Reynolds Hall provides an environment that is invigorating which contributes to our work.”
The student experience
While Reynolds Hall boasts high-tech, hands-on learning spaces such as the Roll Capital Markets Center and labs devoted to social media and marketing, data analytics and cybersecurity, its features that appeal to the students go beyond the classroom.
Pareera Uqaily, an accounting and management information systems double major, said Reynolds Hall is more student-centric than the College’s previous home as it offers more space conducive to socializing and networking.
“To be able to work on group projects with team members in the study rooms overlooking the Monongahela River and catching up with friends along the social stairs not only makes studying collaborative, but fun as well,” said Uqaily, who’s also a member of the Honors College and Student Body vice president at WVU.
Students like Uqaily can definitely utilize the space. The Morgantown native is involved in several organizations such as Delta Sigma Pi, Women in Business, WVU Global Business Brigades and the Management Information Systems Association.
“There are many resources and tools that the new building provides, particularly Einstein Bagels to grab a quick bite between classes, the fitness center to work out after classes, an expanded tutoring center to seek academic assistance and an overall collaborative study environment,” she said.
“The building has definitely enhanced my education by providing me with a positive atmosphere where I feel motivated to study and can prioritize my physical and mental well-being all under one roof.”
Alexsa Ruiz, also a management information systems student, had the privilege of speaking at the Reynolds Hall opening celebration.
For Ruiz, she’s taken pleasure in working in the data analytics lab and believes each student will have their own favorite learning lab in the building.
“The most impressive feature of Reynolds Hall has to be the new collaborative classrooms,” said Ruiz, of Weehawken, N.J. “I love that the tables are able to be moved around to cater to group work and all of the screens within the classroom can be viewed so there is not a single bad seat in the classroom.”
Ruiz has already racked up an impressive resume in her time here. She worked as a summer intern with Ernst & Young – one of the Big Four accounting firms – in its New York City office. She’s also involved in many Chambers College initiatives such as serving as an ambassador and peer career coach and mentor to other students.
And Reynolds Hall is more conducive to making those connections outside the classroom. The seven-story building hosts a recruiter lounge and interview rooms where students can meet with employers.
“Overall, I believe the building has given me more ways to stay focused inside and outside of the classroom,” Ruiz said. “The new computer labs, Data Analytics Lab, study rooms and AeSc Center have given me more opportunities to work with my peers and study for exams.”
These first impressions and reflections have not solely fulfilled the Reynolds' vision. They have exceeded it.
“I’ve toured the building under various stages of its construction,” Bob Reynolds said. “But when I went in after it opened, what set it off for me was seeing the students. It exceeded every vision I had. You walk in the door and there’s so much activity going on. It’s not just an academic building with classrooms. You can tell it’ll be a special place for a long time.”
This school can play an integral part in the future of the state. It’s something that will benefit the state of West Virginia for generations to come.- Bob Reynolds
Having lived and worked in major cities such as Charlotte and Boston, Reynolds knows what a thriving business community can do to a region. He strongly believes the complex will give a shot-in-the-arm to the area.
“A common thread through great business regions is that they all have great business schools around them,” he said. “This school can play an integral part in the future of the state. It’s something that will benefit the state of West Virginia for generations to come.”
Which proves that the building is the archetype for bringing people together – even those beyond the College.
Stolarczyk has chosen one word to describe this impact – “confluence.”
con·flu·ence ˈkän-ˌflü-ən(t)s kən-ˈflü-
: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point
“To me, this word sums up my experiences in Reynolds Hall,” Stolarczyk said. “The River, the Rail Trail, the barge locks up stream, the rail line across the river, the campus, the building and the human elements of Chambers are all coming together to provide a world-class experience for our students.
“My biz mantra for the last 25 years has been ‘Create a culture, empower the believers and share the success.’ The Chambers College and Reynolds Hall provide this platform of communication, collaboration and catalyst for long-term success for our students, staff and educators.”