A $1 million estate gift from Mylan co-founder and global entrepreneur Donald Panoz will champion continued entrepreneurship and experiential learning opportunities for West Virginia University students.
His gift will support Reynolds Hall, the new home of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics scheduled for completion in April 2022, along with the Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab and Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, both housed in the Chambers College Innovation Ecosystem.
The gift will support the collaborative classrooms in Reynolds Hall, which will break the mold of the traditional unilateral classroom. They will feature innovative teaching spaces that will empower business faculty to facilitate group learning and utilize cutting-edge technology in their teaching methods. Faculty will be able to intermingle with students as they teach, and students will be able to collaborate with each other as part of the learning experience.
The gift will also support building innovative experiences for students through operational and programmatic support of the Morris L. Hayhurst LaunchLab and Encova Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Milan Puskar Dean Josh Hall – whose deanship is named for Donald Panoz’s dear friend and Mylan business partner Mike Puskar – sees the gift as a natural fit with the innovative work to which Donald Panoz dedicated his life.
“Donald Panoz made an incredible impact on the global business community, and the risks he’s been willing to take – and the outcomes of those risks – are inspirational to our business students who are cultivating entrepreneurial mindsets to prepare them for the marketplace,” said Hall. “It is only fitting that he will continue to inspire our business students through his generosity for decades to come in Reynolds Hall and our innovation centers.”
Although Donald Panoz and his wife, Nancy, did not attend WVU, they have been loyal supporters of the University and the Chambers College. Donald grew up in West Virginia and passed away in 2018 at the age of 83, and he repeatedly shared his diverse business expertise with WVU students as a guest speaker. He was inducted into the College’s Business Hall of Fame in 2015 and received an Honorary Doctor of Business degree in 2017.
Never short on ideas or afraid of hard work, he was a lifelong entrepreneur – often in partnership with his wife of 63 years. In 1961, after studying pharmacy at the University of Pittsburgh, Panoz and Army buddy Milan “Mike” Puskar co-founded Mylan, one of the world’s largest generic drug makers prior to its merger with Pfizer’s Upjohn division to form Viatris.
In the 1970s, the Panozes moved to Ireland, where they founded Élan Corporation. This company transformed healthcare with the development of the transdermal method of medication delivery, the technology that led to the nicotine patch. After going public in 1985, Élan – the first Irish company to be publicly listed on the U.S. stock exchange – set Wall Street records with three consecutive years of 100 percent profit growth.
The couple later diversified their business interests with world-class resorts, wineries, motorsports and more. As founder and owner of the American Le Mans Series, many credit Donald Panoz with bringing professional sports car racing back to prominence in the United States. He pioneered innovative vehicle design, including the world’s first successful hybrid race car, and founded Élan Motorsports Technologies, a leading race car constructor. He also served as chairman of DeltaWing Technologies Inc., an automotive technologies company committed to helping manufacturers deliver fuel efficient and emissions-reducing technologies.
In addition to WVU, the Panozes’ many philanthropic contributions have benefited causes as varied as breast cancer treatment, teens in crisis and the effort to end malaria infestations in third-world countries.
His most recent 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 and the stories that have shaped it at buildingbeyond.wvu.edu.