$2M gift provides a place for innovation at ECU

East Carolina University’s Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Van and Jennifer Isley Innovation Building, made possible thanks to a $2 million College of Business (COB) gift from Van and Jennifer Isley of Raleigh, which was previously announced in November 2017.

The building will be located across from the engineering and business buildings on ECU’s campus and is currently used by campus facilities. It will be remodeled to provide space where business, engineering, technology and art students can collaborate on product innovation and entrepreneurship.

The 28,000-square-foot building also will be the new home of the COB’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship and a world-class fabrication, rapid-prototype workshop managed by the College of Engineering and Technology. It will house Miller School faculty, classrooms and a 5,000-square-foot space where up to 300 students can bring interdisciplinary innovation to life.

Van Isley, a COB alumnus, is the CEO and founder of Professional Builders Supply, which he started after 18 years in both the financial and building supply arenas.

“The Van and Jennifer Isley Innovation Building will provide an exciting hub for innovation, problem solving and the entrepreneurial spirit,” said ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton. “This very generous gift is certain to inspire our students to turn business ideas into reality while they’re studying at ECU and throughout their professional careers. I’m looking forward to seeing the brilliant work that this new facility is certain to foster.”

“There are quite a number of reasons why all of us are excited about this gift from the Isleys,” said Stan Eakins, COB dean. “It will complement the university’s focus on interdisciplinary innovation. With the Van and Jennifer Isley Innovation Building, ideas won’t disappear into the ether. They’ll become revenue-generating businesses.”

Eakins added that there are steps that must happen before the building opens. It will need to be renovated and final decisions made regarding what goes into and what happens in the building.

Isley said, “I think the Van and Jennifer Isley Innovation Building has the potential to create a lot of opportunities for a lot of people who might not otherwise have those opportunities.”

The university estimates the design and construction will take at least a year.


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