Reynolds Hall, the future home of West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics, will propel students to the forefront of business education thanks to a multimillion-dollar gift from alumni W. Marston “Marty” and Katharine Becker that will bolster building construction, ensure academic success for students and help attract and retain top-notch faculty.
Reynolds Hall, the future home of West Virginia University’s
John Chambers College of Business and Economics, will propel students to the forefront of business education thanks to a multimillion-dollar
gift from alumni W. Marston “Marty” and Katharine Becker that will bolster building
construction, ensure academic success for students and help attract and retain
The Beckers’ gift includes monies for construction of Reynolds Hall, as well as an endowment to support operation of the Academic engagement Success Center and an endowment to supplement faculty salaries. The Charleston couple also donated a significant piece of artwork for Reynolds Hall and previously established an endowed fund for undergraduate student scholarships and a doctoral fellowship.
“It is because of the generosity and the leadership of our alumni, such as Marty and Kathy Becker, that West Virginia University can continue to achieve great success,” President Gordon Gee said.
"Through this gift, as well as through Marty’s service to the WVU Board of Governors, future generations will benefit by receiving a high-quality, transformational education that leads to future success. I am grateful for their continued commitment to our Mountaineer family."
The Academic engagement Success Center provides peer-assisted tutoring, mentoring and career coaching to help students excel in college and their careers, equipping them with real-world professional skills that offer a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Chambers College Director of Recruitment and Retention Rachel Nieman said about 30 undergraduate scholars provide tutoring to students in challenging economics and accounting courses at hundreds of appointments each semester; another 23 upperclassmen trained in leadership skills and more work directly with roughly 450 first-time freshmen to help them succeed. All services are provided virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Center’s new facility at Reynolds Hall will create a hub for students to congregate and work collaboratively on their studies, with greater flexibility for concurrent tutoring, mentoring and coaching sessions.
“This additional funding will really enable us to invest in our students,” Nieman said. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to empower students to grow and provide support to develop future business leaders. Services like ours complement what students receive in the classroom. Participating in these kinds of activities, whether it’s receiving help or providing help to others, separate the good from the great. We know that this is going to take our students to the next level.”
“Kathy and I are privileged to have this opportunity to support West Virginia University and its land grant-driven mission to advance West Virginia. The Chambers College and its students are an essential resource to enhancing the financial trajectory of our state,” commented Marty Becker.
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 Morgantown’s scenic waterfront on the Monongahela River. Slated for completion in 2022, the state-of-the art facility’s highly adaptive, collaborative spaces reflect a reimagined vision for business education at WVU. The innovative approach focuses on creative problem-solving and risk-taking, integrating start-up culture with an entrepreneurial mindset to cultivate business leaders of the future.
Reynolds Hall will more than double the Chambers College’s existing space to 108,000 square feet – including 175 offices for faculty and staff. The Beckers’ gift will enhance WVU’s ability to offer competitive salaries to world-class faculty essential to executing WVU’s business education model.
“Future generations of business students will transform our world toward greater prosperity because of the investments of time, talent and treasure from dedicated Mountaineers like Marty and Katharine Becker,” said Javier Reyes, Milan Puskar Dean of the Chambers College and vice president of Start-up West Virginia. “Their gift will not only attract students to WVU and the Chambers College, but it will give them the support needed to excel in business education.”
A native of Huntington, Becker credits his West Virginia values, WVU education and family support for much of his success. He graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1974 and a law degree in 1977. Since then, he has led insurance, reinsurance and insurance brokerage organizations both publicly traded and privately held, building on an insurance industry career that has spanned a range of advisory and private equity investing roles. He currently serves on the boards of Encova Insurance, Axis Capital, MVB Bank and Amynta Group.
He has received numerous honors and awards for his work, including being named WVU’s Most Loyal West Virginian and induction into WVU’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni and the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame.
Katharine Becker earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from WVU in 1979. She has worked on Capitol Hill, for the U.S. Department of Commerce and as a senior aide to former West Virginia Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr.
The Beckers jointly support many charitable causes focused primarily on education and quality of life issues in West Virginia, including Charleston’s Clay Center for the Arts, the Craik-Patton Museum House, the Kanawha County Public Library system, and community beautification projects. Their efforts to elevate WVU began when Marty worked for the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University, as a student at the College of Law. He previously served on the WVU Foundation’s Board of Directors and currently serves on the WVU Board of Governors, in addition to boards for several other organizations. Both Marty and Kathy recognize the transformational life experience they received as students at WVU.
The couple has two adult sons, James and Todd, who also attended graduate school at WVU.
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.