by Amy K. Lavender
In the very near future, Maple Street could have a brand new, state-of-the-art building to showcase thanks to a substantial donation from University of West Georgia alumnus David Johnson, co-founder of St. Croix-based company Cane Bay Partners VI, LLLP.
UWG’s Richards College of Business is in need of a new building, and has begun raising funds for the endeavor. However, that goal is now coming closer to fruition thanks to Johnson’s donation.
“This is the first big step,” said Richards College of Business Dean and Sewell Chair of Private Enterprise Dr. Faye McIntyre. “I can’t express how much I appreciate David’s generosity. The fact that he is making this donation to the Richards College of Business shows he believes in what we are doing, and he wants our students to succeed. That is the heart and soul of what we do. David has been a terrific partner in accomplishing our mission: We are in the business of transforming lives through education, engagement and experiences.”
Johnson said the gift to his Alma Mater was a natural fit, and one he was happy to make.
“My time at West Georgia was such a formative time in my life, and it is such a special place,” Johnson said. “When I look back at my life and how I got to where I am today, West Georgia played a significant role in that. It allowed me to learn how to not only be an adult and a leader, but also how to be a business person. That's what compelled me to think about this gift now.”
He sees a new facility on campus as something to get excited about and something he thinks will help draw more students to UWG.
“What I remember about Richards College of Business was a really nice facility, but that was a long time ago,” he said, “so for us to have a state-of-the-art business college building is interesting and important to me. I feel fortunate that I’ve been successful in life to this point, and it’s a small thing that I can do to make sure other students have that same opportunity. I want students to look at their different school choices and say, ‘I want to go to West Georgia because I want to study business, and they have this amazing facility, and they have these outstanding degree programs, and they have these top professors. That’s why I want to go there.’”
McIntyre agrees the new building will definitely draw in more students, but she also says it will play an important role in functionality and in the business college’s engagement in the community.
“It’s more than just a physical space,” McIntyre explained. “A new building will bring the entire college back together under one roof so that we can all collaborate more easily. It will allow us to be a more integral part of the business community with space for programs open to everyone.”
The new building will offer students and faculty the technology they need to keep pace with today’s business trends; dedicated space for the college’s various centers, such as the Small Business Development Center and the Center for Economic Education; flexible learning spaces; additional space for staff and faculty; and more spacious areas to house the student learning labs and conference rooms.
"A new home for the Richards College of Business continues to be a major goal of UWG's New West Campaign,” said UWG President Dr. Kyle Marrero. “With David's very generous gift, we are able to start planning for the new building that will serve generations to come. We are thankful to alumni like David, who invest in our plans to become America's top comprehensive university.”
In addition to this latest initiative, Johnson made a significant donation to the school and established the David A. Johnson Applied Econometrics and Analytics Fund to support a dedicated professorship within UWG’s Richards College of Business. He also participates in the school’s annual SAS Analytics Summit to offer his mentorship and expertise.