With the sound of the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drum Corps leading the way, more than 600 faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and other friends of William & Mary joined in to celebrate a new day in business education at the nation's second oldest College.
"This is an exceptional building," Alan B. Miller, the building's namesake and '58 alumnus, told those in attendance under the large white tent in the facility's courtyard.
"I have seen how an extraordinary building can elevate an entire institution," added Miller, who founded Universal Health Services, Inc., the third largest proprietary hospital management company in the United States, in 1978. "This building will elevate everyone involved. It will elevate faculty, staff, students and everyone who sees it."
Plenty of people - more than 600 - came to see the new building Friday. Among those marking the opening included William & Mary President Taylor Reveley, Chancellor and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Also joining Dean Larry Pulley and Miller was '59 alumnus Chip Mason, who the school was named for in 2005, and architect Robert A.M. Stern, whose architectural firm designed the 166,000-square-foot facility.
"The ancient College of William & Mary, now in its 317th year, welcomes you all to this glorious occasion," said Reveley, adding special thanks to Miller, Mason and Dean Pulley. "The Mason school is on the move, as is the College on a whole."
Gathered under a large white tent on the building's picturesque courtyard - a space that will become home to the business school's graduation ceremonies - many more adjectives were used to describe the special nature of William & Mary's new western gateway to campus. Students and faculty called the structure inspiring and a "cornerstone for the College."
O'Connor remarked that Miller Hall was also the perfect complement to the Sir Christopher Wren Building, which is located further up Jamestown Road on the historic campus and was first constructed between 1695 and 1700.
"William & Mary has the oldest academic building ... and now it has one of the newest and I am thrilled to see it," O'Connor said. "You can't enter this building and not be impressed with the compatibility with the design and architecture of (the Wren Building)."
As beautiful as the structure is, it is also cutting edge for its design to be environmentally friendly. Designed by the LEED-accredited Stern architectural firm, officials are awaiting notification of silver LEED certification for the building and envision a rare gold certification for the state-of-the-art facility off Jamestown Road. It is also functional. The new building boasts 166,000 square feet of space for instruction, student activity, faculty offices, visiting scholars and research. The $75-million building was funded by $50 million in private donations.
The school's dean said the building was "an enduring symbol that dreams still come true."
Pulley added the facility will take the business school to new heights as it prepares the nation's next generation of business leaders. They are united behind a common theme, he said.
"We intend to do great things. To count. To make a difference. That is our cause."