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University Breaks Ground for Business and Public Affairs Center

This fall, McCarthy Hall, a former University student residence at Sharpless and South Church Streets, is being demolished to make way for a 90,000-square-foot facility housing the majority of programs in the College of Business and Public Affairs.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new building will take place onsite on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m.

"This new building is critical to the College's ability to continue attracting quality faculty and students," says Christopher Fiorentino, WCU's Vice President for External Operations who, during his 20-year tenure as dean of Business and Public Affairs, oversaw much of that College's expansion.

Given the College of Business and Public Affairs' unprecedented growth over the last few years, larger and more up-to-date facilities had become one of the University's key goals for its second largest college. The new building will offer larger and more centralized classrooms, including an educational concept known as a "dinner theatre" classroom.

"We observed this at a number of top graduate and undergraduate schools around the country and decided to test its effectiveness with one of our graduate classes," says College of Business and Public Affairs Dean Michelle Patrick. "The feedback we received was very positive."

In a dinner theatre classroom, a class could begin in a theatre-style arrangement with students seated at rectangular tables at the front of the lecture hall. The faculty member could direct the students to break into teams, who then could turn away from the front of the lecture room and join other students seated at round tables.

The new building's exterior and interior will reflect state-of-the-art, design, materials, finishes and technology with a goal of achieving LEED Platinum classification.

"This new facility will really be more than just a new building," says Patrick. "It will create a sense of community for students and faculty in the College of Business and Public Affairs who come there to teach and learn. We are deliberately creating spaces to eliminate isolation among our College's departments and encourage greater interaction among faculty and students."

The facility will consolidate the College's 10 departments, whose faculty are currently scattered throughout the campus, often sharing one office among two or three faculty members. Individual faculty offices will occupy the top two floors, which will be designed to encourage collaboration. The first three floors will house classrooms, lecture halls, student lounges and meeting rooms to foster student-faculty interaction. "Right now, there are very few satisfactory places for our students to comfortably congregate with each other or to meet with faculty," Patrick acknowledges.

Designed by the architectural team of Voith-MacTavish Architects and Moody-Nolan Ltd., the five-story building will also feature seminar and conference rooms. Its archway entrances on South Church St. will resemble the Collegiate Gothic style of Philips Memorial Building on High St.

Architect's rendering of the new building.