With Drury University officials describing its newest academic building as 95% complete, the $27 million C.H. “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center and Breech School of Business Administration and Judy Thompson Executive Conference Center made its public debut on Oct. 28.
The 67,348-square-foot structure that officials are dubbing OBT – an acronym combining O’Reilly, Breech and Thompson – is set to open for classes in January. Supply chain issues with project components such as audiovisual equipment, flooring and HVAC systems delayed its opening from the original planned launch in the fall, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
The Friday grand opening ceremony featured a ribbon-cutting with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and self-guided tours of the building, which includes 11 classrooms, 46 faculty offices and five academic departments.
“This is a wonderful, wonderful day for our university, for Springfield and for the entire region,” Drury President Tim Cloyd told the hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors in attendance at the ceremony.
Cloyd, along with other school and city officials, spoke during the ceremony from the conference center, a 12,000-square-foot attached section of the building dedicated to meetings, conferences and workshops.
“This will allow for purposeful exchanges between our students, outside firms and business leaders and not-for-profits,” Cloyd said of the conference center, named for Thompson, a longtime Drury employee.
Thompson, the now-retired senior vice president for university advancement at Drury, is credited with growing the school’s endowment to nearly $100 million by the end of 2020 from around $5 million in the 1970s, according to past reporting.
Rita Baron, Drury Board of Trustees chair, said the OBT was funded entirely by private donations raised between 2016 and 2021 during the university’s Go Beyond campaign.
“That campaign brought in $73 million, the largest fundraising effort in Drury’s history,” she said.
Located at the corner of Drury Lane and Central Street, the three-story Enterprise Center – now the tallest building on campus at 62 feet – will house the new location for the Breech School of Business, as well as political science and international affairs, computer science and mathematics, the Robert and Mary Cox Compass Center, the Meador Center for Politics and Citizenship, and high-tech collaborative spaces. An Einstein Bros. Bagels shop also will be opening to the public in January with Drury’s food service provider, Columbia-based Fresh Ideas Management LLC, leasing 1,800 square feet in the building for undisclosed terms, according to past reporting.
Nabholz Construction Corp. is general contractor for the building, designed by New York City-based Cooper Robertson & Partners LLP and St. Louis-based Trivers Associates Inc.
A pair of area medical colleges that received state grant funding in the fall are now investing the funds toward technology and new programs with the intent of attracting more students to the nursing profession.