New COB building: Hartman Hall

“A total ‘wow!’ when you walk in”

JMU News

by Karen Risch Mott


SUMMARY: Hartmans make a philanthropic gift to name James Madison University’s new College of Business building that provides students with even greater access to the latest educational technology—and plenty of room to think big.

James (’70, ’00P) and Carolyn (’00P) Hartman of Rockingham, Virginia, are making a substantial gift to name the newest College of Business building, James Madison University announced today. The striking glass and brick four-story structure, which will adjoin Zane Showker Hall to constitute the COB Learning Complex, will now be called Hartman Hall.

The new building delivers much-needed additional space for the nationally recognized business school, and it introduces state-of-the-art technology and collaborative study areas. This, coupled with great timing, inspired the Hartmans to make the gift.

“We finally sold our business in September,” Jim noted, referring to Truck Enterprises Inc., a large family-owned company of truck dealerships. “And that allowed us to make the commitment that we had been wanting to make.”

Their commitment also stems from admiration for the strong reputation of the college, particularly its international accreditation for both business and accounting, as well as the number of internships, jobs and job offers COB students receive prior to graduation. 

Jim described their support of the college as “a giveback situation” on behalf of the family. The naming of Hartman Hall will recognize Jim and Carolyn, their son Scott Hartman, and their daughter, Jennifer Risser (’00), who studied English at JMU and now works in the university’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery.

The Hartman family’s ties to the university go back to when it was known as Madison College, and their affection for the school has grown over the past half-century. As sports fans, the Hartmans have frequently traveled to Dukes’ away games and love to watch softball and baseball in Veterans Memorial Park, and football in Bridgeforth Stadium, which has grown and expanded several times in the last few decades.

The school didn’t have a football team when Jim studied at Madison, but he regards his undergraduate education with great appreciation: “I look back at those years as being really important, critical to our success in our family business, because it gave me a foundation. I learned from really excellent profs.”

He fondly remembers one “crusty and tough” professor, Phillip Kincheloe, who was especially miserly in grading, unwilling to award an A unless it was well-deserved, but who considered Jim’s work worthy. “He was pretty tough on us, and it probably made us step up a little more,” Jim recalled. A transfer student in 1968, Jim completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree while also working part time for his father in the trucking company.

After graduation, the young businessman helped grow the company from a single truck contract to eight full-service commercial truck dealerships. He also met and married Carolyn, and they built a family together as well as fostered deep friendships with people they know from JMU, including former JMU President Linwood H. Rose and his wife, Judith. Jim was rector of JMU’s Board of Visitors when Rose retired in 2012.

Current President Jonathan R. Alger acknowledged the role supporters like the Hartmans play in JMU’s success. “Jim and Carolyn’s connection with and service to this institution are invaluable. And this philanthropic gift will have a significant, lasting impact on generations to come, not just business students but also the college’s faculty, staff and, even more widely, the entire JMU community. I am humbled and inspired by their generosity.”

Dean of the College of Business Michael Busing welcomed the Hartmans to the cadre of donors who have provided crucial financial support. “This family is now part of a remarkable group of people who have helped us fully realize the vision of this grand project, which aligns with and reinforces our world-class faculty and their curricula, signature programs and top-notch students.”

The couple recently toured the new building, which opened earlier this fall, and they marveled at the architecture—contemporary yet engaged with its campus context—the bright and expansive interior and the industrious students. “It’s a total ‘wow!’ when you walk into the building,” Carolyn exclaimed. “First you see the scrolling of the NASDAQ, and then you look up to see the way it was designed inside: It’s incredible, very special.”

“I see those kids in there,” Jim remarked, “and they’re obviously really involved in what they’re studying, what they’re reading and what they’re seeing. That’s just huge! I’m thrilled, and I’m excited.”

Robert A. M. Stern Architects from New York served as the design architect for the COB Learning Complex with Moseley Architects of Virginia Beach as the architect of record. Kjellstrum and Lee of Richmond constructed the new building and are expected to finish renovations in Zane Showker Hall this coming spring.

The university plans to celebrate with a grand opening in fall 2021.

When completed, the Learning Complex will boast more than 200,000 square feet of new and renovated space. Highlights include the expanded Gaglioti Capital Markets Lab; the Major Innovation, Collaboration, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Lab; a professional sales suite; distinctive first-floor atrium and fourth-floor oculus with sweeping 360-degree views of campus; state-of-the-art collaborative learning spaces and study rooms throughout; and much more. The building is LEED certified and elevates JMU’s business education facilities to be on par with the finest business schools in the nation.

The Hartmans revel in the upgrade and, Carolyn said, feel blessed to be able to share in this way; they are thankful to God for the opportunity to do so. Jim reflected, “I think back to when I was in school here 50 years ago, and we didn’t have any really neat places to study, or these incredible other assets of this building. We are just thrilled that today’s students do have those to use and benefit from. It’s incredible what JMU puts together, whether it’s aesthetics or technology—whatever! It’s just amazing to me. It’s beautiful.”

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Published: Friday, October 16, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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