New business building 'a dream come true'

The new COBE building at sunset

The new COBE building at sunset

State and local officials, business leaders and benefactors were among more than 400 guests on September 12, 2012, as Radford University officially opened the new building for its nationally accredited College of Business and Economics (COBE).

Standing before the $44 million, state-of-the-art complex, 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, it is a portal for students to dream of the future and make those dreams come true."

Gilbert thanked the building committee and others instrumental in the planning and construction process. 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!”

Kyle said the new building is also the home of hope as well as dreams. “Today as you walk through these halls and classrooms, think of all the Radford students who will pursue their studies here. Think of the young people who will come here to plan their futures, map out their careers and realize their goals. Think of the research that will be done. Think of the local, state and national leaders in business who will come here to speak to our students about life beyond this building and this campus. Think of our faculty and mentors who will guide aspiring economists, accountants and entrepreneurs to their life’s calling."

The president acknowledged the support of the Virginia General Assembly and the Office of the Governor, saying, "Thank you for taking up our cause. The eager students who will earn their degrees here will carry with them the dreams of our entire Commonwealth—dreams of prosperity, achievement and success."

President Kyle and others at the ribbon cutting

RU President Penelope W. Kyle (center) with (l to r) Field Representative Angie Hall, representing the Office of U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith; Virginia Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-6th District); COBE Dean Faye Gilbert; Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng; Virginia Delegate Joseph Yost (R-12th District); and Rector of the RU Board of Visitors Linda Whitley-Taylor.

The state-of-the-art building is such a success, Kyle said, “it has whetted our appetites and our vision for more of what can be.” She went on to describe upcoming projects that she said will make the campus a construction zone for at least the next several years: the nearly $50 million, 115,000-square-foot Center for the Sciences, soon-to-be underway; and the $32 million, 110,000-square-foot Student Fitness and Wellness Center, also to begin soon. Yet another academic building is being planned, she said—a new academic building for the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences.

“All of these projects will ensure that Radford University has facilities to rival any in the Commonwealth and that our campus’s buildings are worthy of the excellent programs that all of our faculty and deans are leading,” Kyle said. “The stories of these buildings—and of our university—have just begun.”

The president 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 workforce that will help to ensure that Virginia is a great state in which to do business.

Speaking next was alumna Linda Whitley-Taylor ‘86, executive vice president of human resources for Amerigroup and new rector of the Radford University Board of Visitors.

“It is inspiring to hear this recognition of those who contributed to this extraordinary moment. Truly, it takes many hands to make light work. We are celebrating a remarkable team effort that will make Radford University a leader in preparing students to guide our Commonwealth and our nation to a bright, strong and stable future.”

She acknowledged 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 Joseph Yost ‘06, M.A. ’08, 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.