Students in the College of Business have a new place to learn the skills that will help them become “business ready” graduates, thanks to contributions totaling $150,000 from the Wells Fargo financial services company. In addition to helping equip a recently refurbished auditorium in the Forsyth Building, gifts from Wells Fargo also are providing support for student scholarships and faculty development opportunities in the college.
In recognition of the contributions, the university christened the redesigned space the Wells Fargo Business Center, announcing the new name during ceremonies last fall. The gifts represent the latest example of a long-standing partnership between WCU and Wells Fargo, and its previous iteration as Wachovia, said Leslie Hayes, regional president of Wells Fargo’s Triad and Western North Carolina region. In recent years, Wachovia/Wells Fargo has provided support for the Professional Sales Center, graduate research symposia, programming in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, and the celebration of the College of Education and Allied Professions’ receipt of the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award in 2007.
“We share in your belief that education is one of the most important investments we can make in our country’s future,” Hayes said. “We know the returns on an investment in education exceed those from the best mutual funds. The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has designated education as one of our primary focus areas. We also realize that beautiful buildings, high-tech computers and new books are great, but they cannot create a positive impact without talented and committed faculty members and administrators.”
The Wells Fargo Business Center is located in a 240-seat auditorium reconfigured into a multiuse facility suitable for meetings, conferences or classrooms. It can now accommodate up to 120 people seated around tables, or up to 240 people seated theater-style. The center has three projectors, two workstations and a total of nine television monitors and displays. The facility is equipped to serve up to 100 laptop computers running simultaneously via wireless network.
The relationship between Wells Fargo and WCU is especially meaningful for Jim Wood ’83 MBA ’86, a Wells Fargo senior vice president and business banking manager who grew up in Cullowhee. “My degrees from WCU have helped me greatly, and I am glad to see my company partnering with the College of Business. Western Carolina serves the needs of our community in Western North Carolina by providing a quality education. I feel the College of Business produces quality candidates for us in the banking industry and at Wells Fargo,” said Wood, whose father, Baxter Wood ’58 MAEd ’63, is retired director of A.K. Hinds University Center. “And it’s not just graduates of the College of Business. I am sure that we have graduates from many other areas of the university working for our company.”