‘A new and blooming journey:’ Woolsey Hall celebrates grand opening


Baswanth Naidu

Wayne and Kay Woolsey Hall grand opening celebrations at Wichita State University on Sept. 30.

While Wayne and Kay Woolsey Hall, the new home of the Barton School of Business, has been open for classes since the first day of the fall semester, the school just celebrated its grand opening on Friday.

“Over the few months we’ve spent here, I’ve seen students embrace Woolsey Hall as their home away from home; a place they feel safe to challenge themselves, to grow and to thrive,” Larisa Genin, dean of the business school, said. “This is the beginning of a new and blooming journey.”

Woolsey Hall has been a subject of conversation for a while.  

In 2019, students were called out to vote on the “Shock the Future” referendum, which would have raised campus fees by $6 an hour. More than half of the $38.6 million raised would have gone towards the business building. 

The referendum failed narrowly by 107 votes.

The new building was instead mainly funded by private donations. Starting with Wayne and Kay Woolsey, who donated $10 million.

Kay Woolsey passed away in 2019 and Wayne could not be at the opening celebration for health reasons. Instead, their son Marc Woolsey made an appearance, thanking donors for helping their vision come to life. 

“Even though Wichita State was not their alma mater, the city of Wichita meant a great deal to both my parents,” Marc said. 

Before Woolsey Hall, the business school was housed in the outdated Clinton Hall. 

Now, Clinton Hall will be upgraded to the new Shocker Success Center, which will hold seventeen different university programs. The Kansas Board of Regents approved the renovation plan in February 2021, which also took five campus buildings offline. 

The three-story 125,000 square feet Woolsey Hall has an open floor plan, its own cafe and the promise bridge, which connects Wichita State’s main campus to the innovation campus. Muma said buildings like Woolsey will continue to make the school grow. 

“You’ll see additional students come to the university because of facilities like this,” Muma said.

Genin said that the building’s location on the innovation campus will help further applied learning for business students.

“Applied learning is not just a part of Wichita State’s mission, it’s something we actively do to help our students meet the expectations of the business community,” Genin said. 

Muma also boasted of the building’s sustainability. According to Muma, the building uses 25% less electricity than other campus buildings and 11% less water.

Other speakers at the event were WSU Foundation President Elizabeth King and the Dean’s Advisory Board Chair Margaret Dechant. All the speakers (and Wu, of course) participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony after the public addresses.