WKU breaks ground on new Gordon Ford College of Business building


Alexandria Anderson

The new Gordon Ford College of Business building advisory team and WKU administrative members pose for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility.

Alexandria Anderson, Editor-in-Chief

WKU held a groundbreaking for the new Gordon Ford College of Business building today along South Lawn, where it will stand at the former location of Tate Page Hall.

The new facility is a project of the 2021-2031 Campus Master Plan, which stated Grise Hall, the current home of the Gordon Ford College of Business, has “exceeded its useful life.”

WKU President Timothy Caboni gave introductory remarks about the benefits and impact that the new facility will bring to students.

“We’ve long recognized the need for a new home for our Gordon Ford College of Business, and our 2021-31 Campus Master Plan confirmed that Grise Hall, beloved Grise Hall, home to business instruction [on the] Hill since 1967, has exceeded its useful life,” Caboni said.

Caboni regards the new building as necessary to continue educating and preparing successful GFCB students, as it is the fastest growing college at WKU.

“Today we pride ourselves in preparing some of our nation’s finest business students and graduating young entrepreneurs who go on to become leaders and change agents in their communities,” Caboni said.

The facility will be 113,000 square feet with a three story atrium, 21 classrooms and a food and coffee shop, with various applied learning spaces. Caboni explained the building will “enrich our region’s business community” and further partnerships with the college and regional businesses.

“This space will increase our role in the development of the business community and workforce by offering training, credentialing opportunities and spaces intentionally created to further networking and job placement opportunities for our students,” Caboni said.

With the hands-on academic spaces of the new facility, Caboni said it will serve as a “point of pride” for the Commonwealth and for WKU.

Gordon Ford College of Business Dean Christopher Shook described the new facility as a space that will further student success and enhance the sense of community. He agreed that the building will provide a better location for professional opportunities and engagement with local businesses.

“What you see at the heart of the design is a focus on our students and their success,” Shook, who is leaving the dean’s job at the end of this month to take a position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said. “We want our students to belong and feel at home in the building. We also want our faculty and staff to have a building that supports them in all their endeavors.”

Shook said the facility will be a location where the college can host businesses and serve as an “outreach hub.” Compared to Grise Hall, the new facility will have a large, central lobby where research showcases will be held, as well as a student success center for advising, professional development and interview practice.

“Each of these services are critical to ensuring we continue to build, nurture and prepare students for life beyond the hill,” Shook said. “As a first generation college student, I know college transforms a person’s life. At GFCB [Gordon Ford College of Business] we are in the business of changing students’ lives. In doing so, we change our community and our Commonwealth. This groundbreaking represents the beginning of many more lives changed.”

Funding for the construction of the building, $74.4 million, was approved by the Kentucky General Assembly in April 2022. It is the first building at WKU since 2014 funded by the state.

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jaqueline Coleman also gave remarks at the groundbreaking, along with other members of the Kentucky General Assembly, Sen. David Givens and State Rep. Michael Meredith.

“Since we took office in December of 2019, Governor Beshear and I announced more than 860 private sector new locations and expansive projects worth more than $26 billion in investments,” Coleman said. “This type of investment has never happened in our history before. The best part of that is it means over 50,000 full-time, good paying jobs for Kentucky families.”

Coleman discussed the importance of funding for higher education, stating that the “future of Kentucky’s economy” lies in classrooms today. She said this means students, faculty and campuses must be supplied with resources and tools needed to succeed.

“We are asking Kentucky students to compete in 2023 while learning in classrooms and labs in 1967 […] Our administration is investing in our communities like never before,” Coleman said. “We’re going to keep helping to build new classrooms, roads, bridges, water systems and bring high speed internet to every corner of this Commonwealth.”

The new business building is just one of many campus renovation and construction projects set for the coming years. Students can expect its completion in fall 2025.

“I’ve often said that a great college of business needs a great place in which to do business,” Caboni said. “And this new facility is that great place.”

Editor-in-chief Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].