Groundbreaking celebrates Woolsey Hall, new home of the Wichita State business school


Alumni, donors and officials from Wichita State University gathered Thursday, Oct. 22 for a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Wayne and Kay Woolsey Hall, the new home for the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

In a statement, Barton School Dean Larisa Genin told students the facility will be a place “where you will explore your full potential and ambitions.”

“Whether it’s launching a career, starting your own business or working to solve problems in our world, Woolsey Hall will be your lab, your sandbox, your incubator, your oyster to create amazing pearls. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish,” Genin said.

Woolsey Hall, named for the Wichita couple who provided the lead gift to the WSU Foundation’s fundraising campaign, will be located on the Innovation Campus. When completed in mid-2022, the business school will move to the new building from Clinton Hall, which has been its home since 1970.

Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO, said the day is cause for celebration after eight years of fundraising and, before that, years of planning for a new business school facility. The foundation and its partners have raised about $31.5 million, with Wichita State providing the remaining funds for the project.

“I’m deeply grateful to all who recognized the value that a first-class business school facility will have for our students, our faculty and our community,” King said.

Among those speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony was Marc Woolsey, representing his parents, Wayne and Kay Woolsey, who donated $10 million to the fundraising campaign. Wayne Woolsey, who founded the Woolsey Companies, was unable to attend the event. Kay Woolsey died in 2018.

“It was my father’s entrepreneurial mindset – a belief in taking risks and making new discoveries – that was one of the reasons my parents made the gift they did,” said Marc Woolsey, a Wichita State graduate. “My father said he hoped their financial support would help develop future entrepreneurs and business leaders for our community.”

Others who spoke at the celebration included Intrust Bank President Jay Smith, who co-chaired a volunteer committee of community and business leaders who helped the WSU Foundation raise private funds; Fidelity Bank Chairman Clark Bastian, whose family and bank were major contributors to the project; and Craig Barton, son of W. Frank Barton, for whom the business school is named.

Wichita State interim President Rick Muma said the new facility signifies Wichita State’s commitment to excellence and its willingness to invest in endeavors it believes will bring distinction to the university.

“I’m excited for the generations of students who will benefit from this dynamic facility, for the faculty and staff who will be inspired and invigorated by it, and for the community connections and partnerships that will flourish inside it,” Muma said.

Woolsey Hall will be a three-level, LEED-certified building. It was designed by the architectural team of GastingerWalker of Kansas City and Gensler Chicago. Dondlinger Construction of Wichita won the competitive bid to build the facility.

Wichita State University serves as the Kansas urban-based research university, enrolling more than 15,000 students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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