Columbia International University honored one of its past presidents Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new business and technology center that bears his name.
More than 100 community, city, county and state leaders attended the dedication ceremony for the $20 million, 44,000-square-foot William H. Jones Global Business and IT Center. The building will serve as a hub for the university's Monticello Road business development initiative. It also will be used by students at Ben Lippen School.
In two years, the university raised $18.2 million to cover the center's construction cost. Ground was broken on the building in May 2018.
Jones, a former president of the university and its current chancellor, said the school of business is CIU's fastest-growing program. It started as a single business course, then expanded to a minor before becoming a major. The university is now offering master's and doctoral degrees in business, he said, that help it address its core mission.
"Twelve years ago when I became the president, we had been, for 85 years, focusing on educating what we called professional ministers, the pastors and the ministers of music," he said. "We asked if we could begin emphasizing ministering professionals, people who could be trained in the same way in terms of knowing the scriptures and being focused on their inner character and moral values, so they could go and exert a positive Godly influence in the community. That part has been very successful."
The business center includes meeting and classroom space and state-of-the art technology.
"This is the culmination of several years of planning to have a first-class business program," said Scott Adams, dean of the CIU School of Business and Professional Studies. "This is one of the most modern facilities for business schools in the state."