The year is 1929 and the West Virginia University Downtown area of campus is filled with students, professors and community members watching as they unveil the Field House – the new, on-campus sporting venue.
The Field House, sitting southwest of “Old” Mountaineer Field, became one of the finest sporting complexes in the region, hosting everything from basketball, track, wrestling, boxing and more.
WVU fans near and far, young and old, crowded into the Field House to see basketball players “Hot Rod” Hundley and Jerry West become Mountaineer legends.
Community members recall waiting out on the sidewalk hoping to get in and get a seat, packing the bleachers wall- to-wall, and leaving the game sweating even during the cold winter months.
When it came to the atmosphere, everyone agreed: it was special.
“Everyone yelled, not just the student section,” said Mary Kay Johnson, longtime WVU fan and a 1950s Morgantown resident. “The whole house moved and cheered for the Mountaineers. It’s hard to believe what all went on in that building. It just sat right there on the sidewalk.” And every little child dreamed of playing ball.
“It was always packed and, in those days, freshmen didn’t play with the varsity, so you had to go the freshman game to ensure you were going to be in the building for the varsity game,” said Ray White, 1965 finance alumnus, managing director at Solenture, Chambers College visiting committee member and visiting lecturer at WVU. “In my case, my older brother was in Morgantown at the time and he got a ticket for me to see Hundley play. I wasn’t very old, but what a thrill that was. And, to see West play at any time was exciting.”
Over a period of 41 years, WVU Athletics continued to hold games at the Field House and even welcomed the West Virginia High School State Boys’ Basketball Tournament for 22 years and two NBA games featuring the Los Angeles Lakers (whose roster included Hundley and West).
In 1973, the WVU Coliseum opened and the Field House was renamed Stansbury Hall after Athletics Director Harry Stansbury. Although Mountaineer varsity teams never played another game there, Stansbury and its courts became the go-to destination for pickup basketball games in town.
From House to Hall
If you weren't playing pickup basketball, you may have gone to class at Stansbury Hall. Since 1970, it hosted everything from Army and Air Force ROTC to humanities, international programs, philosophy, religious studies and statistics.
What was once known as the building that sat southwest of “Old” Mountaineer Field, it became known as the building directly across from the Downtown PRT station.
The PRT was a new concept introduced to the University in the early 1970s to help move students from point A to point B and, in return, tighten up class schedules. No more two-hour gaps between classes … you could ride the PRT.
With student enrollment growing (approximately 10,000 in the late 1960s to nearly 30,000 today), new halls, dormitories and traffic patterns were designed and implemented.
Our University was growing and, little did we know, shaping our plans for the future.
What does all of this have to do with the future of business?
While “Hot Rod” Hundley and Jerry West lit up the Field House, the West Virginia State Board of Education ordered the establishment of the WVU College of Commerce in 1951 for students to study business. The first students enrolled for the 1952-53 academic year and the College has never looked back … only forward.
Today, our College offers 10 bachelor’s, 10 master’s and two doctoral degrees. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,500, the College has more than 20,000 alumni worldwide.
“Thanks to alumni, especially those like Robert “Bob” Reynolds and his wife, Laura, our future is within reach and is looking brighter than ever. Reynolds Hall will be more than just a building – it will be a collaborative, creative space that will catalyze innovation for our students and transform their learning through experiential opportunities.”
– Javier Reyes,
Dean of the John Chambers College
and Vice President for Start-Up West Virginia
Even after upgrading two of our larger lecture halls, we knew it wasn’t enough.
From the fall semester of 2000 to the fall semester of 2016, the number of students enrolled in our college grew from 900 to about 2,800. Rooms could be reconstructed, schedules could be shifted, one classroom could expand into two but, at the end of the day, our plans for developing a better student experience was not going to fit into our current blueprint.
A PIECE OF THE PAST
We spoke to April Messerly, associate athletics director of facilities and operations at WVU, about plans to preserve some of the most admired artifacts of Stansbury Hall.
Athletics salvaged portions of the original basketball court, including the center court logo and items from the Jerry West/”Hot Rod” Hundley era that will be incorporated into the WVU Basketball Hall of Traditions. “We want to place the floor where fans will still be a part of it,” said Messerly.
Bricks and Concrete Medallion:
The bricks and the medallion were kept. They plan to showcase a few of the bricks, along with the medallion, in a display on the Coliseum’s exterior.
A Look At Our Future Home
Reynolds Hall will feature collaborative, creative spaces that will drive innovation for students and transform their learning through experiential opportunities.
- Roll Capital Markets Center
- Behavioral Business Research Lab
- Hospitality Simulation Lab
- Global Supply Chain Management Lab
- Experiential Learning Pavilion, replicating a modern professional business environment – a space for companies to provide virtual internships
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
- Café and dining area
- Park and greenspace
- Recreation center
- Integration into the community rail trail
BEYOND BRICK AND MORTAR
With the help of those who have already given, and those who still can, our future at Reynolds Hall will prosper.
By creating a business school with environments to capitalize on the talents and skills of our students, as well as faculty, research and learning opportunities, we can open more doors than we ever thought possible.
"It’s no surprise we’ve outgrown our current building. Reynolds Hall shows a promise for the future, offering not only the physical room to grow but the opportunity to grow as professionals. Students will gain the competitive edge they need for success in their future endeavors,” said Cara Thomas, sophomore double-major in accounting and finance, expected to graduate May 2022.
Progress demands innovation, and the emerging vision for Reynolds Hall realizes widespread impact. We have a unique opportunity to take the business lead in West Virginia to develop an environment with strong communities, meaningful and diverse employment and an attractive setting where people can create fulfilling and vibrant lives.
Consider being a part of the College’s history – and future – by helping us build beyond at buildingbeyond.wvu.edu.
A native of Clarksburg, W.Va., and a 1974 finance graduate, Bob Reynolds is president and CEO of three multinational companies: Putnam Investments, Great-West Financial and Great-West Lifeco U.S., Inc.
Reynolds wanted to give back to his alma mater and its students, and he found the best way to do so. He and his wife, Laura, made our new building possible with a generous $10 million gift. Reynolds Hall is no longer just an idea. It’s becoming reality.
At nearly 106,000-square-feet, Reynolds Hall will more than double the space that the Chambers College has currently.
“What started as a conversation about the vision for future of business at WVU several years ago has grown into a reality, and it’s incredible to see it come together,” Reynolds said. “Laura and I are proud to be a part of a facility that will transform WVU, Morgantown’s waterfront and, most importantly, the business learning experience for future generations of Mountaineers.”
… AND BEYOND
To date, our Building Beyond campaign has raised more than $26 million of the $40 million needed in private support to ensure this new, first-class facility for business education and research.
The total project cost is estimated at $100 million.
“When you walk into our new building, we want you to see business at work,” said Javier Reyes, dean of the Chambers College and vice president for Start-Up West Virginia.
“Reynolds Hall will be more than just a building – it will be a collaborative, creative space that will catalyze innovation for our students and transform their learning through experiential opportunities.”
“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. That’s what ‘paying it forward’ means to me.”
- Bob Reynolds
Representing an integration of a start-up culture and entrepreneurial mindset, Reynolds Hall will showcase an intersection of technology, innovation and state-of-the-art programming.
ON A ROLL
Penni Facemire Roll and Rob Roll met at WVU, where they both graduated with accounting degrees in 1988 and 1987, respectively.
The couple announced a gift in New York City on Oct. 10, 2019, to give back to the
College where their story began. The new trading lab in Reynolds Hall will be known
as the Roll Capital
“The Roll Capital Markets Center will ignite a collaborative and innovative learning experience for our students in Reynolds Hall,” Reyes said. “This Center has been a tremendous gift from the heart of Penni and Rob Roll, who have been wonderful friends to the College and selfless mentors to our students.”
Naomi Boyd, Fred T. Tattersall Chair of Finance, has worked hand in hand with the Rolls to prepare students for careers in finance through the WVU Student Managed Investment Fund (SMIF). The Roll Capital Markets Center will feature a trading lab to offer a realistic trading floor experience to educate students through experiential learning, which is the mission of Reynolds Hall.
“This space will give our students the ability to truly learn through doing,” Boyd said. “Post-graduation, our students will be able to walk onto a trading floor and feel like they’re back home at WVU.”
For Penni and Rob Roll, their investment of time with the students has been the most meaningful to them.
“Having the connection with the students and seeing them start to think about their careers and where they want to go has helped us feel close to what’s happening in the state,” Penni Roll, who serves as partner and chief financial officer of the Credit Group of Ares Management Corporation, said. “We want to keep making a difference in their lives.”
And they have no doubt that the future belongs to Mountaineers.
“What I’ve seen in these students is their desire to get ahead, their desire to work hard and learn everything that they can,” Rob Roll said. “You can just see it when they come to New York City. They’re going to run the world someday.”
PRESERVING THE SPIRIT
West Virginia entrepreneur Don Hoylman may not have graduated from our College but, as a businessman, he recognizes its important position in sustaining a future for business in the state.
Hoylman is one of several donors bringing a vision of Reynolds Hall to life.
The donation from Don and the late Marcella Hoylman will be used to create a valuable and prominent space in the new building.
“I envision the new Chambers College being the hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in West Virginia and the surrounding region,” Hoylman said. “My vision would be that the Chambers College will be student-centric and look and operate much like a start-up.”
Modeled after the Googleplex’s social stairs, the social stairway will be a place where students can hold meetings, work on group projects or just relax in between classes. It will be a space that makes Reynolds Hall feel less like a classroom and more like a true business environment.
“I feel like the new building will preserve the spirit of Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, who gave the fans something new and innovative to cheer about each time they walked into that building,” Hoylman said.
A FUTURE IN FOCUS
The year is 2032 and the WVU Downtown area of campus is filled with students, professors and community members watching as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Reynolds Hall–the innovative, cutting - edge business college.
Reynolds Hall, sitting on the waterfront where the iconic Stansbury Hall sat more than 50 years ago, has become one of the finest halls on the University’s Downtown area for students, faculty and alumni.
Community members remember the excitement when Reynolds Hall was unveiled and its plans to help mold future business leaders.
Today, children say they want to go to Reynolds Hall.
What was once a place to watch basketball legends is now a place to watch for leaders: businessmen and women who will shape our community, our state, our nation and beyond.
And we plan to do just that.
Learn more and contribute to our future home online by visiting buildingbeyond.wvu.edu.
Brittany Murray and Heather Richardson contributed to this story.
Preliminary artistic conceptual renderings are
provided by Gensler.
Archived photos provided by West Virginia & Regional History
Center, WVU Libraries.