Under a beautiful blue sky, UNC Pembroke officials broke ground on the future $38 million, state-of-the-art School of Business building where students will have access to cutting-edge programs for generations to come.
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings said the ceremony represented a “high-water mark” in the life of the university.
“This building will be a modern learning environment second to none, a space worthy of our world-class faculty, our exceptional staff, and most importantly, our students.”
The future facility will face Prospect Road between Sampson Hall and Dial Humanities Building. The university anticipates the building will be occupied in 2021.
In addition to 14 classrooms, the building will feature a career services center, a 300-seat auditorium, an interactive market-style trading room, video conference room, computer lab, collaborative study spaces, food court, and a multimedia resource room.
“This is where we will educate the future generation of business leaders and it is so great to provide this education in a facility that is second to none among schools of business in the nation,” said Dr. Barry O’Brien, dean of the School of Business.
Since 2016, the undergraduate and MBA programs have grown from 800 to 1,400 students. When the new facility opens, O’Brien estimates enrollment reaching 1,750.
In her remarks, Junior accounting student Sarah Knepper praised the business faculty’s passion for education.
“They have given me a college experience I never thought was possible. The faculty’s dedication to their students’ advancement is unparalleled.”
Knepper, an Iraq War veteran, believes new School of Business building will open doors for future students who may not have considered UNCP.
“The innovative technological enhancements planned for classrooms will encourage and allow more students to attend classes virtually.”
UNCP received $23 million from the 2016 NC Connect Bond and a $6 million appropriation from the General Assembly toward the construction of the building. Private individuals and foundations contributed the remaining funding.
Cummings acknowledged state Sen. Danny Britt who was in attendance, Jim and Sally Thomas and others for their roles in securing the funding.
Jim Thomas, a Pembroke native and Los Angeles commercial developer, along with his wife, Sally, contributed $7 million to the School of Business—the largest individual donation in the university’s 132-year history.
“This is one step along a journey,” Thomas said after participating in the ceremonial dirt toss. “We have a long way to go in terms of getting the building underway and getting it built, but a long journey begins with a first step.
“It’s really moving to hear Chancellor Cummings talk about what it means to the community. We made the gift based on the passion he has and his belief in what this building will mean for the community and the entire region.
“I think we really need more jobs in this area. Hopefully, this new School of Business building will be a meaningful step in that direction,” Thomas added.
Trustee chair Don Metzger, who also contributed to the building, with his wife, Linda, said new building signifies the future of our community.
“In its classrooms, lecture halls, offices and collaborative spaces will walk southeastern North Carolina’s future entrepreneurs, managers, bankers, strategists, marketers, accountants, economists and leaders.”
UNC Board of Governor member and UNCP alumna Kellie Blue said the future building will strengthen the university’s ability to promote economic development.
“It will do so by establishing a foundation for business students to apply classroom learning for the greater good.”
Glavé & Holmes Architecture and SFL+a Architects will oversee the design of the new building. Metcon Construction will serve as the general contractor.
Metcon President Aaron Thomas predicted the new building will be a “game changer” and major catalyst for economic growth, boosting enrollment, as well.
“The business school program is already growing by leaps and bounds. That growth, I believe, can be attributed to the anticipation of the new building.
“When you think about the economic development side, the more graduates we can produce, the stronger our talent pool is going to be. When these factors are aligned, it will help bring in new businesses and support existing industry.
“I am proud to be a part of this project and a witness to the continued growth here on campus,” said Thomas, a UNCP alumnus.