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Raising the beam of Steven D. Bell Hall

A sky-high crane hoisted the final structural beam on Steven D. Bell Hall – the future hub of learning and student life at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School – during a topping off ceremony on April 26, 2024.

Students, alumni, faculty, staff and donors signed their names on a 50-foot-long beam before it was added to the top of Bell Hall, marking a significant milestone in the construction process and honoring construction workers who are transforming the vision for a new building into a reality.

Bell Hall is where students in the Undergraduate Business, Master of Accounting, MBA and PhD Programs will take classes. Significantly, the major expansion will enable UNC Kenan-Flagler to admit 50% more Carolina students to study business in the Undergraduate Business Program (UBP).

“This is an exciting time for UNC Kenan-Flagler and to see our community and state grow stronger,” said Dean Mary Margaret Frank (BSBA ’92, MAC ’92, PhD ’99). “As we transform our campus with this building, we also transform our legacy. Not only will UNC Kenan-Flagler be known as an innovative business school that produces exceptional leaders; we also will be known as a school that prioritizes sustainability and healthy communities focused on giving back.”

Lydia Waddell (BSBA ’24), Faith Lyons (MAC ’24), Hailey Innocent (MBA ’25), Herrison Chicas (PhD ’24)

Herrison Chicas (PhD ’24), Hailey Innocent (MBA ’25), Lydia Waddell (BSBA ’24), Corey Brandon (BSBA ’26) and Faith Lyons (MAC ’24) 

Students from each degree program – Lydia Waddell (BSBA ’24), Faith Lyons (MAC ’24), Hailey Innocent (MBA ’25), Herrison Chicas (PhD ’24) –  shared what the new building and the UNC Kenan-Flagler community mean to them.

“I have been fortunate to embark on this journey with the assurance of a place in this prestigious business school from the very beginning,” Corey Brandon (BSBA ’26), an Assured Admit student to UBP, said during the ceremony. “I’m excited to be part of a community filled with so many vibrant, passionate people and am proud to become a part of history in the first graduating class to be in Bell Hall!”

Frank extended special gratitude to Director of Facilities Dave Moore, who has been instrumental in the design and construction of Bell Hall. He is leading the work of contractors, architects, engineers and landscape architects, and partnering with UNC’s facilities, planning and construction teams, and the North Carolina State Construction Office.

She also recognized “the wonderful workers who have contributed countless hours to the construction of Bell Hall.” The crowd applauded the construction workers – who celebrated with a private topping off ceremony the previous day – as they watched from the beams and took figurative bows.

Steven D. Bell Hall construction workers

Designed for learning, wellness and sustainability

Bell Hall uses innovative design to enhance learning, collaboration and engagement. It includes spaces and programs that support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of students, faculty and staff.

The building will double the Business School’s classroom space and double the current space for student life and community interaction, including:

  • 16 technologically advanced classrooms equipped for hybrid and online teaching
  • a 40-seat outdoor tiered teaching space
  • a four-story inner atrium surrounded by student collaboration, dining and study areas
  • numerous meeting and event spaces
  • new dining facilities
  • outdoor event space, terraces and an elevated walkway connecting UNV Kenan-Flagler to main campus

The design prioritizes the environment, with sustainability as a hallmark of the design. It leverages the surrounding natural environment to reduce energy use; prioritizes green space surrounding the buildings; and incorporates nature into the design to support student wellness.

Signing the beam

Joseph High (BSBA ’76), UNC Kenan-Flagler board member, after signing the beam

It is on track to meet UNC’s Three Zeroes initiative, with targets including net zero water, zero waste to landfills and net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and three stars from Fitwel, the highest ratings and certification standards offered by both groups.

The new building is adjacent to the Business School parking deck and its entrance will be on Blythe Drive – a physical connection that will facilitate stronger connections and collaboration across the UNC campus.

The need for more space to meet student demand has existed since UNC founded the Department of Commerce in 1919 and gave it a home in two rooms in Alumni Hall. The Business School moved to Saunders Hall (now known as Carolina Hall) in 1922, Bingham Hall in 1929, Carroll Hall in 1953, and the McColl Building in 1997.

Dave Moore, Mary Margaret Frank, Lee H. Roberts and contractors pose for photo

Frank Sutton (BSBA ’82), Dave Moore, director of facilities; Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts; Dean Mary Margaret Frank (BSBA ’92, MAC ’92, PhD ’99); and Leo Horey (MBA ’90) celebrate the next phase of Bell Hall. Sutton and Horey served on the new building committee.

Giving thanks

Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts said that by serving more students, Bell Hall will advance UNC’s mission, expand Carolina’s reach to serve the community, North Carolina and beyond, and spur economic growth.

“Bell Hall will enable UNC Kenan-Flagler to meet the rapidly changing and growing needs of business education in an ever-evolving world,” he said. “This is what it means to be a public university: serving the community and preparing leaders for the solutions of tomorrow.”

The cost of the building project is $195 million, which includes Bell Hall as well as McColl Building renovations. The State of North Carolina funded $105 million, and private donors funded $90 million.

Bell Hall symbolizes the collective effort and dedication of the entire community.

“It’s taken so many people to get to where we are today,” said Frank, who started by thanking “our North Carolina legislature and their invaluable support of public universities.”

Signing the beam

We are honored that our legislature sees the positive economic impact that this building will have on the state,” said Frank. “UNC Kenan-Flagler graduates are an enormous economic powerhouse for the state of North Carolina as they make their communities stronger, start new companies, provide good jobs, and develop new products that improve all of our lives.”

“Because of our donors’ generous support, Bell Hall has received the most private support of any building at the University,” said Frank. “This project is an incredible example of the deep commitment our community members have for our school and how a public-private partnership made the expansion possible.”

The new building is named in honor of Steven D. Bell (BA ’67). He and his wife, Jackie Bell, pledged $26 million to the building, which he called the greatest investment in real estate and in people he ever made.

Many other supporters have made Bell Hall possible: UNC Board of Trustees; the new building committee, including Frank Sutton (BSBA ’82), Kai Reynolds (MBA ’00), Ryan Dearborn (MBA ’96) and Leo Horey (MBA ’90); and the UNC Kenan-Flagler Foundation Board.

Signing the beam

Bill Seymour (BSBA ’64), UNC Kenan-Flagler board member, signs the beam with Mary Margaret Carroll, interim senior associate dean for advancement, and Dean Frank cheering him on.

Frank also thanked Doug Shackelford (BSBA ’80), former dean, and Shontel Grumhaus, former senior associate dean for advancement, for their leadership in setting this project in motion and securing the resources to make it possible.

Looking toward the completion of the project, there are still several ways to support this historical time at our school, including naming opportunities within Bell Hall and support for sustainability opportunities. For more information, contact Mary Margaret Carroll, interim associate dean for advancement, at

As we look toward the future,” said Frank, “Steven D. Bell Hall will be a place where we lead the way forward by engaging with industry, fostering communities and driving excellence for the state and beyond.”

Video: Watch as the final structural beam is hoisted on top of Steven D. Bell Hall.