‘A Path to a Greater Future:’ Dalton State Hosts Grand Re-Opening Celebration of Gignilliat Memorial Hall


Dalton State’s Wright School of Business has already given Santi Angel the skills and tools he needs to succeed. And with the opening of the newly expanded and renovated Gignilliat Memorial Hall fall semester, Angel believes those opportunities and potential for success will increase.

Gignilliat Memorial Hall was renovated and expanded to house the Wright School of Business thanks to a $5 million gift from C. Lamar and Ann Wright, which was matched by the state. The project took 15 months and added 15,729 square feet to the building.

To celebrate the grand re-opening of the building, the college is hosting a ribbon cutting on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“The Wright School of Business has given me a path to a greater future,” said Angel, a marketing major expected to graduate in December. “I thought originally I’ll go to class, get my degree, get a job and I would be done. But now I know, with what I’ve learned here, I can do a lot more.”

The new WSOB home includes features such as a finance lab, a marketing lab and event spaces. The original portion of the building was completed in April 1970. It was named Arthur M. and Elizabeth Kennedy Gignilliat Memorial Hall in 1995 for the college’s first president and his wife. 

“The renovations will give us an opportunity to do things we’ve been wanting to do, such as host and conduct focus groups,” Angel said. “We have a one-way mirror in our marketing lab for this type of learning now. I’m glad we have our own space. We already have great professors, and now we have better spaces for them to teach us.”

Collaborative learning is more important than ever to prepare students for the workforce. The new space allows students to work more in teams and on projects together more efficiently, said Dr. Marilyn Helms, dean of the WSOB.

“Spaces for learning must be flexible to accommodate these new learning and teaching styles,” she said. “The community support is beneficial for our current faculty. We are more competitive with this new space, and our students will have bright, modern, efficient spaces to work and interact. Our business programs and upgraded technology allow students to learn on the latest equipment, fully benefiting from current pedagogical methods.”

The Wrights, for whom the school is named, are known for saying Dalton State is “changing lives.”

“Their gift supports their statement,” Helms said. “The modern, expanded space and renovation provides a workspace for students and faculty research, learning and instruction. The addition includes our large multi-purpose space for campus and community events. With changes in the way students learn and interact, the technology, too, is important. Students have the best preparation a professional school can offer for the world of work.”

Lamar Wright was a member of the first freshman class in 1967 at what was then Dalton Junior College and was in the first graduating class in 1969. He says without that experience, he wouldn’t be able to give back to the school as he has. The educational foundation he received at Dalton Junior College led him to a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and years as a successful businessman in the Dalton area.

“As Dalton State strives to achieve its vision of becoming a first-choice destination college, having modern facilities that are conducive to today’s learners is essential,” said Dr. Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State. “We are preparing students for the job opportunities of today and the future workforce needs of our community. This cannot adequately be achieved without the proper technology and classroom settings. Because one of our graduates was greatly impacted by his education at Dalton Junior College, he and his wife have ensured future generations of students will receive the very best educational opportunity here in Northwest Georgia through our Wright School of Business.”

“This is the largest gift from an individual in the college’s history,” said David Elrod, director of the Dalton State Foundation. “The Wrights’ vision for the future of the college and its potential impact on the region was the impetus for the gift. It’s donors like Lamar and Ann and their giving that are the catalysts for the life changing that is going on here.

“Every gift counts,” he said. “Private giving at Dalton State makes possible all kinds of projects and transformations, whether it is in scholarships for need-based aid or in a building where learning and discovery – and changing lives – will take place. Projects like the expansion and renovation are exceptional, but in a given year the Dalton State Foundation provides $1 million or more in philanthropic support to the college, and every dollar of that comes from donors.”

Attending the ribbon cutting will allow the community to see how Dalton State is making an impact on students and the Northwest Georgia area, Helms said.

“Tour our renovated building,” she said. “And also, learn about the majors at Dalton State, as well as concentrations and minors in the business field. Come see how we’re changing lives here.”

The Wright School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a designation earned by fewer than 5 percent of business schools worldwide. The WSOB offers six majors: accounting, finance and applied economics, logistics and supply chain management, management, management information systems and marketing.