As Reynolds Hall, the new hub for business education on the campus of West Virginia University and the Morgantown waterfront comes to life, two John Chambers College of Business and Economics alumni are making a gift that will place future Mountaineers on the cutting edge of finance education.
Penni Facemire Roll and Rob Roll met at WVU, where they both graduated with accounting degrees in 1988 and 1987, respectively. The Rolls announced a gift to the Building Beyond campaign in New York City Oct. 10 to give back to the College where their story began. That gift will establish the Roll Capital Markets Center.
The Rolls shared their plans for the Center in the company of President Gordon Gee and the students and alumni whom they have mentored for future careers in finance as part of the West Virginia University Student Managed Investment Fund semi-annual visit to New York City.
“The Rolls are a perfect example of what we mean when we say ‘Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer,’” Gee said. “Their continuing support of their college and the University, especially the opportunities they provide students, has never waned. This latest gift will open many doors for our graduates, and provide them an unparalleled advantage for opportunities in the financial industry.”
Penni Roll knows that opportunity favors those who work hard and come to the table prepared. Those factors have been instrumental to her success in New York City’s finance industry, where she serves as Partner and Chief Financial Officer of the Credit Group of Ares Management Corporation.
It is the Roll’s vision that the Roll Capital Markets Center will provide students with the tools and experiences needed to chart their own paths to success in finance.
“Part of what we’re trying to create is an opportunity for students to have a broad-based learning experience,” Penni Roll said. “We wanted to give back to West Virginia in a way that creates and supports a more entrepreneurial environment.Once Reynolds Hall is built, we believe that the Center will allow the students to learn through real life experience and position them for success after graduation.”
Their vision directly aligns with that of Milan Puskar Dean Javier Reyes, who has worked with the Rolls as engaged alumni and through Penni’s leadership on the Chambers College Visiting Committee.
“The Roll Capital Markets Center will ignite a collaborative and innovative learning experience for our students in Reynolds Hall,” Reyes said. “This Center has been a tremendous gift from the heart from Penni and Rob Roll, who have been wonderful friends to the College and selfless mentors to our students.”
Naomi Boyd, Fred T. Tattersall Chair of Finance, has worked hand-in-hand with the Rolls to prepare students for careers in finance. The Roll Capital Markets Center will feature a trading lab to offer a realistic trading floor experience to educate students through experiential learning, which is at the core of Boyd’s teaching style – and the mission of Reynolds Hall.
“This space will give our students the ability to truly learn through doing,” Boyd said. “They will experience a working environment similar to a real-life trading floor at a major financial institution in New York City, Charlotte or Chicago. Post-graduation, our students will be able to hit the ground running. Rather than walking onto a trading floor and feeling completely overwhelmed, they’re going to walk onto a trading floor and feel like they’re back at home at WVU.”
The commitment of the Rolls to create these hands-on learning opportunities for WVU students and their continued spirit of giving and friendship to the University is valued by B.J. Davisson, WVU Foundation executive vice president and chief development officer.
“We sincerely appreciate Penni and Rob’s continued generosity and vision for creating a transformational business college for our students and faculty at WVU,” Davisson said. “Experiential learning is the focal point of Reynolds Hall, and the Roll Capital Markets Center will go a long way toward providing real world opportunities for our Chambers College students.”
The Rolls have been dedicated to their alma mater through the years, creating the Facemire-Roll Scholarship and the Adolph Neidermeyer Honorary Accounting Travel Fund endowed scholarship. They also joined the Founder’s Club that established the WVU Student Managed Investment Fund. In addition to her role on the Chambers College Visiting Committee, Penni Roll also serves as a WVU Foundation Board Member and as a member of the Investment Committee for the WVU SMIF.
However, it is their investment of time with the students that has been the most meaningful to them and that has supported the launch of many of the finance department’s students careers in finance and accounting.
“Having the connection with the students and seeing them start to think about their careers and where they want to go has helped us feel close to what’s happening in the state,” Penni Roll said. “We want to keep making a difference in their lives.”
And they have no doubt that the future belongs to this crop of curious, engaged and determined Mountaineers.
“What I’ve seen in these students is their desire to get ahead, their desire to work hard and learn everything that they can,” Rob Roll said. “You can just see it when they come here. They’re going to run the world someday.”
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.