[Photos by Kenny Nguyen]
ST. BONAVENTURE (March 28) —The class of 2017 will enjoy many opportunities current students do not yet have — the biggest being the new School of Business building.
On Friday March 23, St. Bonaventure University held a formal ceremony to begin the construction process. The school expects to start work on the William E. & Ann L. Swan Business Center in just a few weeks. The anticipated date of completion is fall of 2013.
“We’ve been able to move the construction schedule forward a full six months,” Brenda McGee, senior vice president for finance and administration, said. “The bids were delivered yesterday, and digging will begin in just a couple weeks. By mid-April I hope you’ll see fences come up and the earth begin to move.”
The university is very close to its goal of $15 million dollars for the new business center. Most funds will go toward its construction, but funds will be set aside for faculty and endowments.
Bob Daugherty, a ’77 graduate of the university and chairman of the fundraising campaign for the board of trustees, said he has no qualms about meeting the goal.
“For the building, there’s not a whole lot left (to fundraise),” Daugherty said. We have other things we’re trying to get money for, but for the building, we’re very close right now. We still have a lot of other people we’re going after to ask for donations so we are pretty confident. We’re well on our way.”
The new business center is also related to the university’s five-year plan, part of which calls for an advancement in education.
“The first area of focus in our five-year plan calls for us to become an institution of choice for those seeking extraordinary learners-centered communication,” Dr. Michael Fischer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said. “Our strategic plan recognizes the critical role of facilities indicating in part the need to develop facilities whose central focus is the learning, development and success of our students.”
Fischer believes that the Swan Business Center will become a major factor in St. Bonaventure becoming this “institution of choice.”
The new business center is named after Bonaventure alumnus Bill Swan and his wife Ann. Ann wanted to have something dedicated to Bill, who became CEO of First Niagara Financial Group. Bill also served nearly 13 years as the chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees.
“At the same time we were looking at a new business building, Ann was looking for a way to memorialize her late husband and our friend, Bill, for his dedicated commitment, loyalty and significant contributions to legacy and love for St. Bonaventure University,” Daugherty said.
Those who envisioned the early stages of the project wished for a building both modern and historically accurate.
“This is a very dramatic and awe-inspiring place to house our School of Business programs and faculty,” McGee said. “The new building will fully embrace our Franciscan heritage with exterior walls of brick, a glass atrium and a rooftop accented with signature St. Bonaventure terracotta tile straight from Italy. The new building will also include a corporate boardroom simulator, state of the art classrooms and a financial services lab complete with a digital ticket.”
McGee also said the new business building will take classical Franciscan elements from our campus and blend them with modern-looking architecture.
Near the end of the groundbreaking ceremony, a bittersweet feeling overtook those in attendance. Dr. John Watson, late dean of the School of Business, was not able to see the shovels dig into the last leg of his long-envisioned building.
“Our strategic vision came from a very good friend, John Watson,” Daugherty said. “John understood the importance of this for the business school, and he wanted to stay on to see this through. He shouldered with me every step of the way. I know he’s still with us, he’s guiding our decisions every day, and I know for sure he’s guiding the basketball teams every day. I always think about him.”
Although Watson won’t see the accomplishment, some feel the new building would not only make him proud, but will make every Bonnie proud.
“This will truly be a facility that will enable us to educate and develop the business leaders of the future in a manner that’s distinctively Bonaventure,” Daugherty said.