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WVU to name auditorium after Vienna businessman

Artist’s rendering of the future John Chambers College of Business and Economics. (Photo Provided)

MORGANTOWN — A state-of-the-art auditorium at Reynolds Hall, the new home of the West Virginia University John Chambers College of Business and Economics, will be named in honor of a late businessman from Vienna.

Harry H. Esbenshade Jr. was an accomplished business leader and philanthropist.

The Esbenshade Foundation and other Esbenshade interests joined to recognize Esbenshade Jr. with a gift to the university and the next generation of business leaders. His son, Harry “Hap” Esbenshade III established the foundation.

“Hap understands the future of business in West Virginia and beyond is shaped by the quality of education within our business schools,” said Javier Reyes, Milan Puskar Dean of the Chambers College, and vice president of Start-up West Virginia. “This generous gift to support Reynolds Hall will position us to be a world-class business school with state-of-the-art facilities to prepare Mountaineers for the marketplace.”

Slated for completion in 2022, Reynolds Hall will feature adaptive, collaborative spaces reflecting a reimagined vision for business education at WVU. The innovative approach integrates start-up culture with hands-on learning that will prepare students to excel in a rapidly changing global environment.

From left, Harry “Hap” Esbenshade III with his late father, Harry H. Esbenshade Jr. (Photo Provided)

A 300-seat Esbenshade Auditorium will create an atmosphere where academic instruction is strengthened by interaction with real-world industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

The amount of the gift from the foundation was not disclosed.

Although the Esbenshades never attended WVU, both have considered themselves lifelong Mountaineers. Hap Esbenshade recognized the construction of Reynolds Hall as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a meaningful impact in his father’s memory on the state they both love.

Hap Esbenshade described his father as “the best businessman I have ever known.” A native of Uniontown, Pa., his father began expanding what is now the Tri-State/Service Roofing & Sheet Metal Group following his graduation from Yale University and service in the U.S. Navy.

“His intelligence, candor, and humility were central to his success, along with a strong work ethic and belief in lifelong education,” Hap Esbenshade said. “He strived to be a good citizen and believed in the importance of giving back. This project will help encourage and support future leaders. I know my father would be proud to be a part of it.”

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