Wright School of Business Celebrates Groundbreaking on Renovation, Expansion


It all started with an opportunity, an opportunity for Lamar Wright to attend Dalton State College in the 1960s.

It’s why he and his wife, Ann, chose to share that opportunity with the Dalton community by donating $5 million to the School of Business, which now bears their names, said their son, Kevin Wright.

The Wrights gathered with approximately 200 members of Roadrunner Nation on Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the renovation and expansion of Gignilliat Memorial Hall, which will house the Wright School of Business. The Wrights’ gift was matched by the state bringing the total amount of the project to $10 million.

“It is my honor to be here today and represent our family,” Kevin Wright said. “We are honored and humbled to be surrounded by this group of people here. Thank you for all you’ve done in this process. My mom and dad worked hard. God’s amazing grace brought them to this place, and we got here because of opportunity, the opportunity this institution provided him.

“It’s an opportunity they’ve decided to share with this community,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for this community to have a great business school as part of a great college. It’s an opportunity for students to have a great education.”

The $5 million gift to the College is the largest from a couple in the College’s history, said David Elrod, director of the Dalton State Foundation, who spoke on behalf of President Dr. Margaret Venable.

“As much as anything, this is a day to celebrate the gift to Dalton State by Lamar and Ann Wright. We also celebrate their advocacy and vocal support in the community about the good things that happen here,” Elrod said. “Add to this that the gift was made by an alumnus of the College’s first graduating class in 1969 makes that gift that much more special to us and to them.

“We worked with our partners in the state legislature to secure an additional $5 million for construction to begin in January,” Elrod said. “We hope you come back a year after that in January 2019 when we host the ribbon cutting.”

Elrod thanked state legislators Sen. Chuck Payne, Sen. Jeff Mullis, Rep. John Meadows, Rep. Steve Tarvin, and Rep. Jason Ridley, as well as former Sen. Charlie Bethel and former Rep. Bruce Broadrick.

The nearly 20,000-square-foot addition will incorporate new classrooms, a finance laboratory, student collaboration and study spaces, and additional gathering spaces for networking and public events. The building will be renovated with upgraded classrooms and technology. The building was designed by Clark Patterson Lee Architects, and the construction will be completed by Parrish Construction Group.

“I want to extend my sincere thanks to Lamar and Ann Wright for the School of Business,” said Dr. Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business. “They are catalysts for the campus and the community. The collaborative spaces combined with the latest technology will enable our students to use their knowledge to benefit the greater community. The time is right for this expansion to complement what we’re accomplishing programmatically.”

The Wright School of Business now offers seven bachelor degree programs, including the latest to be approved in logistics and supply chain management.

“This facility will sustain our momentum,” Helms said. “Because of Lamar and Ann Wright, the new finance lab with Bloomberg terminals, will better prepare students for careers in banking and investments. New, modern computer labs will expand the ability to offer SAP, the enterprise management software used by major manufacturers. Logistics and supply chain majors as well as management information system majors will benefit from the new technology to analyze Big Data. 

“Thanks to the contribution of the Wright family, DSC business majors will be even more sought after by employers,” she said. “We are excited by new and larger spaces that will enhance both teaching and learning. The new Wright School of Business will have classrooms to support group projects, to foster interactions in negotiation classes and to serve as labs for sales and marketing students.

“Spaces for students to meet and study between classes will encourage deeper engagement and spark creativity and fresh ideas necessary to solve future business challenges,” Helms said. “The entrepreneurship students are excited about the new elevators to use as their lab to pitch ideas for new ventures creation. Meeting rooms with ample space for student clubs will engage business students as never before.

“Professional development classes can hold their networking events inside the new building,” she said. “Faculty are planning enhancements for their classes to utilize the new spaces, facilities, and technology. The staff and administration of the WSOB are delighted to have office space located nearer to students and classrooms.  This space will allow us to grow internship programs as well as support mentoring for all business students.

“Mr. Wright likes to tell the story of how Dalton State changed his life,” Helms said. “We are moved when we hear how Dalton State had an impact on him. We are proud his impact on Dalton State is just as great. We now have the best name in the world for a school of business – the Wright School of Business.”