By Brian Sherman
The Citadel does an excellent job of promoting, nurturing and molding budding entrepreneurs, according to Gray Turner, who returned to school in his early 30s and launched what turned out to be a second career. Generations of future dreamers and doers will soon have the same opportunities to make their mark on the business world but in a building more suited to sparking innovation, collaboration, new ideas, and new products.
Construction is scheduled to begin in February or March of 2018 on Bastin Hall, a three-story, nearly 44,000-square-foot building on Hagood Avenue, near the south entrance of the Citadel campus. When work is completed in about 18 months, the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business will leave its current home on the second and third floors of Bond Hall, which was built in 1922.
“The business school will have its own building and its own identity,” says Jay Beam, the Citadel’s associate vice president for facilities and engineering.
The project, including furniture, fixtures, technology, and equipment, will cost $20.2 million, Beam says. The building will be named in honor of 1965 Citadel graduate Rick Bastin, who, along with his wife Mary Lee, contributed $6 million to the business school’s new home.
Bastin, who earned a master’s in business administration at Emory University and served in the Army for three years after leaving the Citadel, was in the automobile business in Florida from 1969 until 2006. He explained why he has continued to support The Citadel as a member of various boards connected to the school.
“I got involved 10 years ago or so with the Business Advisory Board, and I was really impressed with some of the things the cadets told us they were doing,” Bastin says. “One thing that piqued my interest was a finance forum they went to, and, ultimately, we contributed to building a financial leadership lab.
“I was really impressed with what the cadets were learning compared to what I learned in the 1960s,” he continues. “We never had the ability to take trips to New York and Chicago to meet with people in the finance field.”
Bastin added that he attributes at least a part of his success in the business world to the educational experience he encountered at The Citadel.
“I had a great education,” he says. “The professors were very dedicated to the cadets. They inspired you to work hard, make good grades and gather all the information you could to prepare you for life in general. And the discipline was important. Maybe if I had gone to another school I would not have had the discipline to learn, study and get it done.”
Turner was never a member of the corps of cadets, but he cited his experience at the Citadel as a major reason for the success he has enjoyed in his second career. Originally from Greenwood, he worked in the assessor’s office in Georgetown County for nearly a decade before enrolling in the school’s evening program. Today, after winning the Citadel Bulldog Business Bowl and the $10,000 prize that goes along with it, he owns South Carolina Property Tax Relief, a company that helps clients make sure they aren’t paying more taxes than they should.
“I gained real-world advice from mentors and professors,” he says. “The Citadel breeds opportunities for students. There’s no shortage of alumni and others to help, especially business majors. I gained so much insight into where you can look for opportunities and go after them.
“It’s one thing to sit in class and learn how to do a business plan. It’s another to have an opportunity to relate that to a real-world business,” says the 34-year-old Turner. “A project for the Business Bowl ended up being my livelihood. Basically, I came up with an idea and left with a business.
“Had it not been for my time at the Citadel, this would probably be a hobby,” he concludes. “My mentors at The Citadel helped me take something that was just an idea that now more than pays the bills.”
Beam says the construction of Bastin Hall has been in the works since 2015. The architects for the project are Liollio Architecture and ikon.5. The builder most likely will be chosen in November 2017.
“We’ll probably award the contract for the site package – utilities, removing trees, etc. – in late September and that work will start in November,” Beam says.
He says that Bastin Hall would have eight classrooms, along with a financial services lab, an innovation lab, a multipurpose room, and, most importantly, “collaborative spaces,” where students can interact with faculty and representatives of the business community.
“The Citadel is unique,” Beam says. “The cadets don’t have time to wander around the business school to chat with their instructors. Being able to easily interact with their instructors will enhance their classroom experience.”
“From the perspective of student learning, we hope to achieve two important things that are difficult to achieve in our current setting,” says Bill Trumbull, dean of the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business. “First, all the rooms, including the commons areas, breakout, and work rooms, are dedicated to individual and group study and student team projects that will give our students a new place to study and work together and with faculty. Second, the commons areas and event spaces will bring the business community into the building in a way that is not possible currently, which will increase interaction between our students and business leaders.”
Trumbull adds that the new building is necessary because the business school has run out of room in Bond Hall. He said one classroom has been eliminated to make room for office space, adding that the rooms are “not adequately soundproofed and are hard to accommodate new technology.” He said the classrooms in Bond Hall can be renovated for use by other programs. For example, he pointed out that Bond Hall would become the new home of the Zucker Family School of Education, with space left over to expand the Honors Program facilities.
In addition to serving as an anchor for future growth and development on the south side of the Citadel campus, Beam pointed out a unique aspect of Bastin Hall.
“A rooftop terrace will look toward the campus,” he says. “We’ll be able to hold various events up there.”