URI College of Business raises $1.4M for initial phase of Ballentine Hall expansion, renovations

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 31, 2021 – With the growth of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Business, major plans to renovate the College’s home, Ballentine Hall, are underway – a $18.7 million project that will add 7,000 square feet of new space, renovate more than 13,000 square feet of existing space, and include enhancements to better prepare business students to face the challenges of the 21st century.

The College of Business recently completed fundraising for the first step in the building project – raising $1.4 million for the initial design phase – thanks, in part, to two generous alumni.

Kent Fannon ’74 and Diane Chace Fannon ’74 donated $500,000 as part of a one-for-one matching challenge that raised more than $1 million in gifts and pledges toward the design phase of the project. In the past, the Fannons, of Dallas, have supported career networking and events for students and have a passion for helping prepare students for professional success. The Fannons’ gift is part of their larger commitment to the overall project, helping to keep the work completely privately funded.

“This is a pivotal moment for the College of Business,” said Kent Fannon. “This renovation can bring in technological enhancements and make Ballentine an energetic, dynamic place where students congregate to see how the markets work and interact as they would in a business environment. We could not be more pleased to fuel this transformation.”

“More than just the aesthetic and structural changes to Ballentine Hall, this project addresses the College’s number one priority: preparing today’s students for the job and technology of tomorrow,” said Maling Ebrahimpour, dean of the College of Business. “Our students are our highest priority. We have a responsibility to provide them a state-of-the art learning environment equipped with all the tools necessary to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.”

On the edge of the University’s historic Quadrangle, Ballentine Hall houses a business program of more than 2,000 undergraduate, 300 graduate students, and more than 70 full-time faculty – offering 10 undergraduate programs, eight graduate programs, and three Ph.D. specialties. The College has experienced a tremendous increase in business majors, with undergraduate enrollment growing by 20 percent between 2015 and 2018, making it the third largest college at URI in terms of undergraduates.

With the growth in enrollment, one of the most critical tools needed is physical space where a majority of the learning occurs and students and faculty interact. The project will address the increased demand for more classroom space, collaborative areas, and technology labs. There is also a need for a student success center as well as flexible workspaces that allow for the natural interaction among faculty, students, corporate partners, and executives in residence.

The project will include enhancements critically important to the College’s long-term growth and success, such as a corporate partners space and offices for executives in residence, an advanced trading room, a business and artificial intelligence lab, a business prototyping lab, interactive classroom spaces, and an open lounge and lobby nooks for collaboration and interaction.

Once the building designs are finalized, the College will work toward securing the $18.7 million needed for the building phase. Plans are to break ground in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the College of Business in 2023.

The construction phase of the project is part of the University’s five-year comprehensive campaign – Big Ideas. Bold Plans. The Campaign for the University of Rhode Island – which has already raised more than $200 million toward its $250 million goal. The campaign will give students and top scholars, the tools to make a substantial difference in the world.

The last major renovation and expansion project at Ballentine Hall was celebrated in June 2003, when more than 200 URI business alumni, faculty staff and students participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It marked the completion of a $10.9 million project.

A bond issue approved by taxpayers and URI asset protection funds provided $5 million of the total construction cost, while a private fund drive, the Shareholders Campaign, provided another $5.9 million in private gifts from alumni, friends of the University and corporations.

Built in 1967, the original 46,750-square-foot, three-story Ballentine Hall was stripped to its steel frame and floor slabs. The project included a granite exterior façade to complement the other buildings on the Quadrangle.