The Robert G. Hunt Center for Construction Management in the Applied Technology Building opened April 7 after a ribbon-cutting ceremony, where former President Jo Ann Gora and the building's namesake were present. 

Mitch Whaley, dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, said the return on the investment made by the Hunt family and Hunt construction group will be in the form of graduates who are ready for the marketplace. 

Gora said for Robert G. Hunt, whose funding helped make the project possible, it was always about the students.

About construction management

  • 95 percent of 2015 construction management graduates had jobs before graduation, and 100 percent had jobs after graduation.
  • The center will have 24/7 swipe access

“It was not about having his name on a building, it was not even about the building, even though that was his business," Gora said. "He’s always ... all about the students, and that’s what makes this a great project.”

Gora was the one who began to cultivate the university's relationship with Hunt. 

Former Athletic Director Tim Collins approached Hunt to see if he had any interest in athletics, but Hunt said he did not. However, Hunt came to Gora's office a few months later in early 2007. 

Hunt said before Gora, he never came back to Ball State for anything, but Gora got him hooked into the university and the students. Their relationship was a turning point for Hunt, and he served as a mentor for two immersive learning projects involving his company, one of which involved students from three different colleges.

“He was the first alum to say, 'I don’t want to give you money, I want to get involved with your students and I want to participate in an immersive learning program,'” Gora said. “I will never forget the time when he challenged the student teams and said to them, ‘Well, are you talking to each other?’ Because these were teams of students, but the students were all in their disciplinary silos, … and he knew that in the real world, in the business world, it doesn’t work that way. That was a great lesson for students to hear not from a faculty member, but from a man who was running a business.”

Hunt said he is thrilled to have been a part of the team that brought the center together. 

Hunt, who graduated in 1969, took an auto mechanics class, as well as several others, in the same space the center was built. Hunt told Jim Jones, associate manager of construction management, that he wanted to start hiring Ball State graduates, and the space could be a place that students studied collaboratively and individually.

“I didn't get any mentors in my life until I was probably 35 years old, probably that's partly why I really enjoy it now. I see such advantage for myself — I get a lot out of it — and I hope an advantage for the students,” Hunt said. “The ability for the students to interact with each other, learn interpersonal skills and relationship, that's what I think this facility will help as much as anything. Sure, it can be a place they can learn BIM or a scheduling kind of item, but for them to work together with other students, grow and develop, mature as people, that's what I hope comes out of this more than anything."

Larry Roan, a Ball State alumnus and current employee of Browning Day architecture firm, is the former president of the construction management program’s advisory board. He said he was interested in the construction management program collaborating with the College of Architecture and Planning. 

“In the real world, architects and construction people work hand-in-glove together,” Roan said. “I think the students are going to learn how to work together as teams, and it could be great for multidisciplinary collaboration too. … This’ll be a great place.”

Jessi Lynn, a junior industry and technology major, got to enter the space with a class before it was finished. She said she likes the idea of having it as a collaborative space.

“It's a neat use of space. They incorporated a lot of colors because [Hunt has] an interesting collection of ties, so that was kind of one of the themes that they were focusing on," Lynn said. "Right now, a lot of capstone students, ... they take what spaces they can for now, so it's really scattered. And this gives us a focal point, like in CAP you have studios. This is our studio, basically."