UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School continues its tradition of educational innovation with a transformative $150-million project. With a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Steven D. Bell Hall, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School entered a new era.
Steven D. Bell ’67, the building’s namesake, and Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase & Co. chairman and chief executive officer, were featured speakers at the Sept. 29 ceremony held in front of the McColl Building.
“The new state-of-the art-building will advance our critical mission and expand our impact,” Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz told students, faculty, staff and alumni. “This building will enable us to teach and train more students and leaders for the future. This space will strengthen our culture of collaboration and help build our community together.”
When completed, Steven D. Bell Hall will allow the Business School to admit 50% more students into its Undergraduate Business Program and modernize the learning environment for students in all of its top-ranked Undergraduate Business, Master of Accounting, MBA and Ph.D. programs.
Bell and his wife, Jackie Bell, pledged $25 million in support of the new building. Chairman emeritus of Greensboro, North Carolina-based Bell Partners, Bell has described the building as his greatest investment ever in both real estate and in people.
“In life few people have the opportunity to influence thousands of young people,” Bell said. “I am honored and humbled to be able to help double the size of the Undergraduate Business Program. These young entrepreneurs will make North Carolina a strong and more productive place for all of us to live and work.”
Keynote speaker Dimon participated in a conversation with MBA Student Association President Taylor Jackson-Pratt. They discussed Dimon’s career path, employees returning to the office, advancing racial equity, higher education’s role in preparing young people for jobs and the importance of sustainability initiatives.
Dimon’s biggest message was that making the world a better place should be a day-to-day activity for all to pursue.
Carolina senior Desiree Lockhart opened the ceremony and introduced Guskiewicz, who welcomed the audience to “a historic day in the life of our university and our business school.” He was joined on stage by students representing the 14 North Carolina congressional districts and “the community that makes Kenan-Flagler so special.”
Guskiewicz thanked the legislature and Board of Trustees for making the building possible. He also thanked Doug Shackelford ’80, former dean, “for his leadership in carrying forward this project with determination.”
Funding included $75 million provided by the North Carolina General Assembly, with a matching $75 million in private funding, including a $25M gift from an anonymous donor, raised by UNC Kenan-Flagler.
“The founding of the University was never meant to be an ending,” said ceremony speaker David Boliek, chair of the UNC Board of Trustees. “It was and has been a forward-moving endeavor because we are never done. We can never stop innovating, we can never stop building, and we can never stop setting the pace for all great universities. “
Over 3,400 students are enrolled this fall at UNC Kenan-Flagler, including 1,107 undergraduate business majors and 216 minors. While the program has been growing, it is only able to admit about half of all applicants each year despite their impressive qualifications and accomplishments.
Steven D. Bell Hall is tailor-made to bolster innovative learning experiences. It is designed to foster the building of personal connections and academic collaborations across the UNC Kenan-Flagler community and the Carolina campus.
Classrooms will be adaptable, allowing for multiple layouts based on teaching style and changing needs semester-to-semester, with technology that supports hybrid and online courses. It creates more spaces for events, conferences and case competitions, and will include a 50-seat outdoor tiered teaching space and a four-story interior atrium.
Sustainability is one of the building’s hallmarks. Its design incorporates solar panels, extensive open-air terraces and large windows. It blends into the natural environment, creating green spaces and reducing energy use. More trees will be planted in the space than the number removed during construction. The building will meet LEED Gold standards as a baseline for sustainability with LEED Platinum status as a goal. It is also targeting the goals of the Three Zeroes initiative for sustainability — net zero water usage, zero waste to landfills and zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Construction will begin in early December and is expected to take a little over two years, and renovations to the McColl Building will take an additional year. The building will be adjacent to the Business School parking deck and connected by pedestrian bridges to the McColl Building. The entrance will be on Blythe Drive.
Our power comes from the innovation, fresh ideas and action of each rising generation across our history and within our community,” said Guskiewicz. “The challenges are real and at times can look unsurmountable. But here at Carolina, as we like to say, we are built for this. We are built to tackle the toughest obstacles and the biggest challenges our world faces. No one does this better than the students, faculty and staff at Kenan-Flagler.”
He went on to break ground virtually on the building.
Jennifer Conrad, newly named interim dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler, closed the ceremony which “symbolizes the momentum we have achieved across the Business School,” she said. “Thank you for letting me take part in this moment with you all. I’m grateful that you trust me to lead UNC Kenan-Flagler, and particularly so on a day of celebration.”