Work begins on UM’s new College of Business building

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo has officially started construction on a new Michael E. Stephens College of Business building.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sept. 5 to mark the occasion and pay tribute to the memory of the building’s namesake, Michael E. Stephens.

“Thanks to the largesse of Allison Stephens and Michael E. Stephens, we’ve designed a building that is going to honor Michael’s memory and honor the vision that Allison has for Montevallo,” UM President Dr. John W. Stewart III said. “In my 10 years of knowing Michael, this was his dream. He always wanted to see a new building for the College of Business.”

The 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building will feature advanced technology and a large student commons and event space to facilitate interactions between students, faculty and the business community.

“In addition, we’re going to have a number of student group team rooms for students to work on their group projects together,” UM College of Business Dean Stephen H. Craft said. “We’re going to have two technology-equipped classrooms as we’re doing a lot of distance education and technology-enhanced education. It’s going to be a great facility for us.”

The new building will be adjacent and attached to Morgan Hall and Comer Hall, where the College of Business is currently housed.

The college will maintain its presence in Morgan Hall and Comer Hall, even after the new facility is complete.

Craft said part of the new building will be dedicated to career enhancement through the Grainger Center for Professional Practice, where faculty “prepare students to enter the job market, make sure they get placed into great internships and then ultimately placed into careers of distinction.”

“These are exciting days to be studying business,” Craft said. “Our enrollment is up, and we’re having great outcomes for students. I think he (Michael) would be very happy to see that this facility is going to be dedicated to the work that the faculty do, and to know this facility is going to have a direct impact on the lives of faculty and students each and every day.”

Stewart said the new College of Business building, along with the new Center for the Arts building expected to open in early 2020, are “emblematic of the trajectory that our university is enjoying now.”

This summer, UM was named to the national Colleges of Distinction list for the eighth consecutive year and achieved program-specific recognition for the Stephens College of Business and the College of Education and Human Development.