Marshall breaks ground on the Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business and Brad D. Smith Schools of Business hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning for the Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation in the 1400 block of 4th Avenue in Huntington. The facility is expected to open for students in the spring semester of 2024.
Featured speakers included Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert; Interim Provost and Former Marshall Business Dean Avinandan “Avi” Mukherjee; and Marshall President-elect Brad D. Smith, former CEO of Intuit and a Marshall graduate and benefactor. Smith and his wife, Alys, donated $25 million in 2018 to the Lewis College of Business, helping to make the vision of the new facility a reality. It marked one of the top three gifts to Marshall University in its history.
Other guests at the event included representatives from Marshall’s Board of Governors and the College of Business Advisory Board, as well as Fairmount Properties, the development company leading the project, and architecture firm Perkins Eastman of Pittsburgh.
“We have put a lot of planning into this building so we can ensure that this new facility will be shaping innovators, business people and entrepreneurs who will take on the many challenges of the 21st century,” Gilbert said.
“Today is a truly memorable day in the history of the Lewis College of Business and its Brad D. Smith Schools of Business, as we realize a long-cherished dream of our community and our alumni to have a dedicated, world-class facility for our business students. The shovels in the ground may last only a moment, but the economic impact of the Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation on the state, the region and the city will be incredibly significant,” said Mukherjee, who is serving as interim provost at Marshall and has been dean of the Lewis College of Business since 2017.
Officials say the facility will allow for more interdisciplinary collaboration among students and faculty, concurrently advancing research, 21st-century learning and community engagement.
“A lot of people have put forth a lot of time and effort to make sure that this structure is a first-class facility that we can all be proud of,” said Toney Stroud of the Marshall University Board of Governors, adding that he could not list everyone, but he thanked Dr. Gilbert and senior administrative staff, Mukherjee, and Advisory Board President Commodore Tony Martin and team, among many others who donated time and funds toward the project. “I’m pleased to report that we have now completed the design and development phase and we are putting the finishing touches on what this new building will look like,” Stroud said. “Folks, you’re going to be proud when you see this new facility sitting here on this spot where we are standing. … I know this building will be a tremendous asset for Marshall University. It’s going to increase our student experience and will assist in efforts as we recruit and attempt to grow enrollment here at Marshall University.”
The facility is expected to be 77,000 gross square feet and completed during the fall of 2023. Along with classroom space, the Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation will feature a forum and auditorium, computer and finance labs, office space, meeting rooms, and study spaces for students.
It will be equipped with conference capabilities for both small and large business gatherings and serve as an incubator for both management and practice, offering student-centered opportunities for learning and collaboration.
Smith began his remarks by reminding the guests of the saying, “If your dreams can be achieved alone, you’re not dreaming big enough.” He added, “And this is evidence of what is possible when we all come together.”
“There are some people who have really leaned in and sweated the details to make this moment happen, starting with you, President Gilbert. This was your vision. You made this possible. I dreamt an opportunity to find a way to support the university in something that I knew would have an impact, and you made that all happen,” Smith said, also thanking Mukherjee, Stroud and several others. “Our time has come, and we are leaning in collectively to seize this moment and shape the future, not only for our community but for the rest of the world.”
Future development that is envisioned along Fourth Avenue will continue to be a collaboration among Fairmount Properties, Marshall University, PJ Dick Construction and Perkins Eastman.
“A bigger part of this dream is to connect Fourth Avenue from the campus to the center of the downtown business district with a high-tech corridor that stimulates imagination, creates jobs and attracts investments to Huntington,” Gilbert said. “Together, the university and the city will prevail, and this groundbreaking is further evidence that the vision is truly taking shape today. I’m gratified that I’ve had the chance in my presidency to start the wheels in motion to take us to where we are today.”
Fairmount Properties plans to develop a vibrant, mixed-use district where one can live, work, dine, play and recreate, anchored by and adjacent to Marshall’s new Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation. In addition to sophisticated new urban residential units geared to Marshall faculty, staff, medical and other professionals in Huntington, the district is expected to include new restaurant and retail options curated to help recruit and retain Marshall graduates.
This “Marshall Business and Innovation District” will be strategically located where downtown meets Marshall University’s main campus, presenting opportunities for strategic as well as chance connections, idea sharing, and catalytic growth leading to broad and sustained economic effects.