Joshua Hall took the helm of West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics in August 2021, just in time for the opening of Reynolds Hall for the fall term. The 186,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art learning and research complex features experiential learning classrooms, a real-time stock ticker, computer labs, a 300-seat auditorium, atrium, study rooms, a cafe, green space and a fitness center. During Hall’s nine years at WVU, he has also held positions including professor, economics department chair and associate dean for research. He is also co-author of the annual Economic Freedom of the World report.
Talk about what it took to build and open Reynolds Hall in your first 18 months as Milan Puskar Dean.
Building anything requires investment of time and teamwork. Taking a vision as grand as transforming the future of business education at WVU required partnership from our engaged alumni, internal teams in our college and across WVU. Through these synergies, we thoughtfully approached every detail to address what students and faculty needed to be successful not only on day one, but (also) to ensure we could be nimble enough to address what they needed in year 10 to stay on the cutting edge of business education.
How have the unprecedented events in recent years shaped your job?
It’s driven home the importance of our people. I have always been struck by how important the values of who we hire are to the work that we do. Our people and their commitment to our students makes me optimistic that we will not only survive, but thrive through whatever headwinds come our way.
What has made an impression on you as you train the next generation?
The current generation of students are looking for purpose and meaning in what they are doing and how they shape the future. WVU has become a Strengths-based campus, and we offer our students CliftonStrengths training. As someone who believes that we need to be the best versions of ourselves, it is so valuable for our students to reflect on what they bring to society as individuals. It has sparked so many fruitful conversations with students at every level. If you don’t know yourself, how will you know what you’re going to do?
What accomplishment are you the most proud of in your career?
It all comes back to students and helping them reach potential. I am here because a series of teachers saw something in me that went beyond how I was showing up in the classroom. I feel that I was that instructor for a number of students. Building confidence in them is a source of pride for me.
Is there a book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to a friend?
“Talent” by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross. They encourage you to think differently so that you create opportunities instead of respond to opportunities.