The Bluefield State College School of Business was officially renamed “The W. Paul Cole, Jr., School of Business,” during a recent ceremony at the College. Local business and civic leader Paul Cole (third from left) is pictured during the naming ceremony, flanked by his sons Tom (left) and Bill (right), and his wife, Carol. His son, Charlie Cole, was recovering from surgery and unable to attend the ceremony. Cole’s sons—Charlie, Bill, and Tom—presented a substantial gift to the BSC Foundation, matched by the Shott Foundation, for an extensive renovation and upgrade of Mahood Hall, home of the College’s School of Business.
Bluefield State College has named its School of Business in honor of William Paul Cole, Jr., a business and civic leader. The financial support of Cole’s sons—Bill, Charlie, and Tom—and the matching support of the Shott Foundation has enabled the College to obtain state funding that will result in a complete makeover of Mahood Hall, the home for the BSC business school.
During a recent ceremony at Bluefield State College, BSC President Albert Walker noted, “In the Caribbean, every house has a name. From this date forward, Mahood Hall will be the home of the ‘William Paul Cole, Jr. School of Business.’”
“We recognize and appreciate that Paul Cole has established a legacy of excellence in the business and civic communities,” added Dr. Steve Bourne, Dean of the College’s School of Business. “With the generosity of the Cole family and the Shott Foundation, we will now be as advanced technologically as any academic structure in southern West Virginia.”
Mahood Hall renovations will provide a new roof, elevator, and extensive lighting improvements. All windows will be replaced and study/lounge areas will be enhanced. A new HVAC system will provide a comfortable learning environment. The building, already wireless, will be equipped with new technologies that will permit instructors to broadcast and communicate with similarly equipped classrooms anywhere in the world in “real time.” The building will also feature electronic classrooms and Smart Boards—interactive whiteboards that combine the simplicity of a traditional whiteboard with the power of a computer. New computers will be installed in laboratories, classrooms, and faculty offices.”
Karen Harvey, former Executive Director of the BSC Foundation, approached Cole’s sons with the opportunity to name the School of Business after their father and they responded, providing the largest private gift to date in the history of the College. “We are honored that the area’s premier entrepreneurial family – with the sixth generation entering the businesses – will be associated with the School of Business at Bluefield State College,” she said. “It’s also a great responsibility to live up to the standards the Cole family has espoused in business, community service and philanthropy.”
Cole’s sons Tom and Bill attended the ceremony and spoke briefly. Charlie Cole was unable to attend, after having undergone surgery shortly before the naming ceremony. “I’d like to thank the Shott Foundation and Bluefield State College for bringing us this opportunity,” Tom Cole stated. “We couldn’t have asked for a better mentor in business and in life than my father. My mother taught me compassion. My dad has been an inspiration to me. . . .as my best friend.”
“Dad’s a smart guy and he also has ‘common sense’ smarts,” Bill Cole added. “I am thrilled to be a part of this endeavor. It is an honor that is befitting our father.”
The naming of the School of Business honors Cole, a Beaver High School graduate who received a business degree at Davidson College and later earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He established an automobile empire in this region that his sons have taken over and expanded. Cole served as Bluefield’s mayor for 13 years, the longest such service in the City’s history. He is also a former president of the Bluefield Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, and several professional organizations.
“I’d like to thank Carol, my wonderful wife of 56 years,” the honoree commented. “She has better ideas than I do. I’d also like to thank my three sons. I am extremely proud of all of them. I hope this School will continue to grow in its service to the community and the College.”
“This is the first School at Bluefield State College to be named,” Dr. Bourne observed at the ceremony’s conclusion. “When you put a name like Paul Cole’s name on a building, you have a lot to live up to. We will work to live up to that name every day.”