College of Business

Learning Complex groundbreaking helps kick off homecoming weekend

by Stephen Briggs

Learning Complex Groundbreaking - October 26, 2018

SUMMARY: With steady enrollment growth and Showker bursting at the seams with busy students, the new building will more than double the available space, offering cutting-edge technology and productivity areas.

Though the rainy weather on Friday prompted the groundbreaking ceremony to move inside nearby Sonner Hall, it did not dampen the spirit of exuberance for the new College of Business Learning Complex. A succession of enthusiastic speakers celebrated the day with thank-yous, recognitions and bright visions of the future.

Interim Dean Mike Busing began the event by praising “the most highly engaged and student-centered faculty and staff in the nation,” before telling the students in attendance, “You make us proud every day and we look forward to challenging you to be your very best in this new space.”

President Jonathan Alger next took the stage and called the project “both a dream and a necessity.” Noting that it is “harder than ever to get new projects approved because of all the demands on public funding and infrastructure,” he added, “To date, alumni, friends and corporate partners have pledged to the university $11.4 million toward a $16.6 million goal. That represents true commitment, and shows how our community can band together to accomplish big things. So far,” he announced, “we’ve received three seven-figure gifts to the COB Learning Complex, including one from Enrico and Danielle Gaglioti.”

Alger then introduced Enrico Gaglioti (’94), who received his B.B.A. from JMU and is CEO of Chiron Investment Management in New York. “When Danielle and I committed to supporting the campaign to the COB Learning Complex, it was a moment of great joy for us,” Gaglioti said. “We did it for the students and the faculty here. And we did it to inspire other alumni and friends of the university who have been successful in their careers to also give back.”

Gaglioti in turn introduced CoB Board of Advisors member Eric Major (’91), who along with his wife Lara (’92), JMU Board of Visitors Vice Rector, made a major donation to the building. The Major Family Foundation named the ICE Lab, calling it The Major Laboratory for Innovation, Collaboration, Creativity and Entrepreneurship.

Eric declared, “This is an exciting time. Everybody in this room is here because we bleed purple, right?” When the applause died away, he continued, “When I describe JMU students, it is often talking about how they are innovative, how they collaborate well and work within teams. They are creative, they come up with new ideas, and solving problems at its core is entrepreneurial.”

Lara stepped to the microphone to add, “Neither Eric nor I graduated from the college of business. We decided to support the new ICE Lab by naming that lab for the college of business, because we believe entrepreneurs grow in the hearts of all different professions. We believe that teachers, musicians, theatre majors, historians and psychologists in the right environment have the ability to become entrepreneurs themselves. We are excited about this new lab and the fact that it will be a bridge for the college of business to the rest of campus that will support faculty and students and allow them to create reality from their dreams and visions.”

Following the Majors’ comments, Alger enthusiastically declared, “We so appreciate your partnership and generosity. You and the rest of the donors have been such role models and inspire us to do our jobs better in leadership as well,” before celebrating the success of the COB 300 integrated business course. “Exactly 20 years ago this semester, COB 300 was introduced into the curriculum as a requirement for all business undergraduates,” he observed, heralding its significance, “It was unprecedented for such a course to be required of undergraduates, and higher education took notice.”

Returning to the podium, Busing took time to thank “Nick Langridge and his talented advancement team for organizing and carrying out the fundraising plan.” He also recognized the three previous deans and quite a few others before painting a picture of the completed building. “The Learning Complex is designed with the student in mind,” he pointed out, “There will be innovation, collaboration, creativity, and entrepreneurship spaces; there will be spaces specifically designed to help students succeed in mastering our business curriculum; and there will be spaces for students to engage with faculty and employers.”

College of Business Board of Advisors Chair Tom Carr (’85) continued the theme of recognition and thanks for many of the others whose efforts made the project possible, including Charlie King, JMU’s Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance. With more than 100,000 square feet being added, Carr explained, “The combined square footage of the two College of Business buildings gives us the ability to more than double the 2,400 student capacity of Showker.” Reflecting at once on the college’s past and it’s future, he said, “I know Zane Showker, a person who has given so much to JMU, would be proud of how we have rallied together to enhance the learning experience at James Madison University.”

The first of two students to speak, junior finance and economics double major Faisal Turkistani praised the college and all it offers. “Because of the resources and programs that JMU and the CoB have made available to me, I have been able to grow personally, and achieve professionally, beyond my most ambitious dreams,” he acknowledged, adding, “This is why Dukes—both current and alumni—love this school. JMU puts us first.”

Senior marketing major Emily Alford shifted the focus to the future, saying, “With cutting edge technology, problem-based learning classrooms, and flexible spaces, this new building will open doors that will foster growth and learning for students and help them truly realize their academic potential.” She continued sharing her vision, noting that “thousands of future students will walk through these doors of unlimited opportunities and possibilities.”

Following Dean Busing’s closing remarks, the attendees were given a chance to sign a steel beam that will later be set into the building, turning their show of support for the Learning Complex into one that is lasting—and literal.

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Published: Friday, October 26, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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