RU Proclaims New Business Building 'A Dream Come True'
State and local officials, business leaders and benefactors were among more than 400 guests on Wednesday as Radford University officially opened the new building for its nationally accredited College of Business and Economics (COBE).
Standing before the $44 million, 110,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, COBE Dean Faye W. Gilbert opened the ribbon-cutting ceremony by welcoming the guests to the college's new academic home. "This is more than a building," she said. "It is a portal for students to dream of the future and make those dreams come true." She then introduced Radford University President Penelope W. Kyle, expressing gratitude to her for "empowering us to build our dream."
The president agreed that the phrase heard over and over through the day was, "It's a dream come true." She drew laughter and applause when she said to the COBE faculty, "You have been in offices and classrooms scattered across campus as our curriculum grew and our enrollment outgrew our space. Now you are all here under one roof: Welcome home!"
The president acknowledged the support of the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor, and then introduced the afternoon's featured speaker, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng. Appointed in 2010, the secretary oversees 13 state agencies and is responsible for promoting business growth and economic investment.
Cheng praised the new building as a recruiting tool for industry in the Commonwealth and a community resource consistent with the goals of Virginia's "Top Jobs" higher education legislation, which aims to see 100,000 additional undergraduate degrees conferred on Virginians by 2025. Radford is doing its part, he said, by training a future work force that will help to ensure that Virginia is a great state in which to do business.
Speaking next was alumna Linda Whitley-Taylor, executive vice president of human resources for Amerigroup and new rector of the Radford University Board of Visitors. She praised President Kyle's role in bringing the project to completion. She described the president as "a remarkable woman whose vision and determination have been central to reaching this defining moment in Radford University's history."
"At this milestone along Radford University's journey to continued excellence, we pause today to celebrate this marvelous project," Whitley-Taylor said. "At the same time, we dedicate ourselves to a future of progress and accomplishment for this university that makes us proud for so many reasons."
The final speaker was Delegate Joseph Yost, a Radford alumnus who represents the 12th District, including Radford, in the House of Delegates. He described the COBE building as a new beginning for Radford University and an economic hub for the region. Just the construction phase, he said, provided 700 jobs in the region and generated $72 million in sales.
The building is also headquarters for two outreach programs, he said: the Small Business Development Center and the Governmental and Nonprofit Assistance Center. The former, which provides business planning, loan packaging and marketing for new and existing companies, has served more than 3,000 clients just in the New River Valley since 1992. The latter, which serves finance, accounting and budget personnel in Virginia's local governments, recently certified its 100th Virginia fiscal officer.
Yost acknowledged and thanked Kyle and the RU Board of Visitors, then closed with a hearty, "Let's cut that ribbon!" The group on stage, which also included field representative Angie Hall of U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith's office and Virginia 6th District Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark, then joined to wield giant scissors and cut the broad red ribbon.