A $2 million gift from the Hayhurst family will strengthen West Virginia University’s entrepreneurship network and support a new facility at Reynolds Hall, the future home of the Chambers College of Business and Economics, to foster student innovation through collaboration.
The LaunchLab and Reynolds Hall are among several growing programs and facilities that reflect a reimagined approach to entrepreneurship education at WVU. By focusing on creative problem-solving and risk-taking, the University is integrating start-up culture with an entrepreneurial mindset to cultivate innovators and disruptive leaders of the future from all disciplines and colleges across campus.
Based at Evansdale Crossing, WVU’s LaunchLab is part of a network of applied innovation centers at WVU that provide hands-on development support, education, mentorship, resources and connections to help innovative student, faculty and staff entrepreneurs succeed. To date, the LaunchLab has more than 220 businesses in the pipeline, with more than $95,000 provided in start-up funding and over 1,700 student visits. Half of the Hayhurst family’s gift will support the high-quality and impactful programs of the LaunchLab.
“The Hayhurst family’s gift provides much needed bandwidth to meet the growing needs of our community,” Carrie White, director of the LaunchLab, said. “As our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship strengthens, increasing numbers of students, faculty and staff from all across the University system are utilizing the resources offered by the LaunchLab. We are grateful for this gift that supports this growth and that it has been given in a way that allows us to meet our short-term needs while also providing for future capital improvements and programmatic needs. We are grateful for the flexibility of its use and the trust it demonstrates.”
In recognition of the Hayhurst family’s generosity, the LaunchLab will be renamed to honor late patriarch Morris L. Hayhurst who founded the family’s business enterprise, establishing a legacy of entrepreneurism and innovation carried on by two generations. He worked alongside two of his three sons, Ronald and the late Robin, to build successful businesses in the oil and gas industry. Christine Davis, the daughter of third son Robert, now runs the family’s business enterprise.
“These gifts reflect our family’s commitment to bring more people, better jobs and greater opportunities to West Virginia,” Davis said. “My grandmother’s biggest regret was that my father had to leave West Virginia to get a job. He did not want to go down the family business route, and he had to move because there were just no jobs here. Our family loves West Virginia, and we want to encourage the great minds we have to build their lives here.”
Davis said her uncle Ronald, a graduate of the College of Business and Economics, has always been brimming with creative ideas. To honor his achievements and ability to see opportunity in the unconventional, the Hayhurst family committed $1 million to support the construction of Reynolds Hall. Fittingly, the new Ronald L. Hayhurst Ideation Hub at Reynolds Hall will feature 1,500 square feet designed to create a highly adaptable environment for team collaboration and group work, innovation and ideation, workshops, presentations and events.
“Innovation starts with the courage to have creative ideas – and to propel those ideas forward to shape a stronger future,” said Javier Reyes, Milan Puskar Dean of the Chambers College and vice president of Start-up West Virginia. “Ronald Hayhurst understands the power of ideas, and it is only fitting that a space that will be brimming with them will bear his name and inspire future generations of business students.”
Reynolds Hall – named for alumnus Robert “Bob” Reynolds and his wife, Laura, who donated $10 million to the project – is under construction at the former site of Stansbury Hall, along the Monongahela River. Slated for completion in 2022, the complex will combine technology, innovation and state-of-the-art programming to create a unique business learning community that empowers students to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global marketplace.
Ronald Hayhurst earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from WVU in 1971. As the family’s business success grew, he began giving back to the state and University through philanthropy and inspired other family members to carry on that tradition. In addition to the Chambers College, the Hayhurst family’s generosity has benefited the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, athletics and Extension Service.
The Hayhurst family’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
Reynolds Hall is a result of the vision and generosity of Bob and Laura Reynolds and will open in 2022. Learn more about the campaign at buildingbeyond.wvu.edu.
CONTACT: Cassie Rice
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