Richard Leatherwood Business Center opens at Maryville College
Maryville College students now have access to a new, state-of-the-art business center, thanks to a generous gift from a former member of the MC Board of Directors – and longtime supporter of the 201-year-old institution and its mission.
The Richard Leatherwood Business Center is located on the second floor of Thaw Hall, a building that was constructed in 1922 and also houses the College’s Division of Social Sciences, Lamar Memorial Library, Academic Support Center and classrooms.
The new business center includes equipment that enables students to fully utilize the same software and technology services that they will use in the workplace: 14 high-end computers with large multimedia (webcam and sound bar) monitors and a wireless projection system with a large television that allows multiple users, including both faculty and students, to virtually collaborate in the lab. In addition to the technology upgrades, the space was fully renovated, and new furniture, lighting and carpet were installed.
“Quantitative skills are critical for managers functioning effectively in the workplace,” said Dr. Jenifer Greene, professor of management and faculty chair at Maryville College. “The Richard Leatherwood Business Center provides a space for students to engage in project work and class assignments with the proper hardware and software at their fingertips. Instructors from multiple courses, including BUS319: Marketing Research and ECN321: Intermediate Macroeconomics, find the Center to be instrumental in the delivery of their material. We are incredibly grateful for this generous gift!”
The business center was funded through a bequest from Dr. Richard Leatherwood, who was a member of the Maryville College Board of Directors from 1988 until 1999. Also through the bequest, the Richard L. Leatherwood Endowed Scholarship was established after Leatherwood’s passing in 2017 and is awarded annually to a Maryville College business major with financial need.
Leatherwood, who grew up in Blount County, graduated from Maryville High School, the University of Tennessee and Rutgers University, and he earned a Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology. He was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity. He was an officer in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. Early in his management career, he worked for American Freight in Kansas City, Mo., as well as Texas Gas Transmission in Owensboro, Ky., and Houston, Texas. Much of his work career was spent with CSX Transportation in Richmond, Va., and Baltimore, Md. In addition to Maryville College, he served on the Board of Directors of several organizations, including CACI International, CSX Transportation, Maryland National Bank, the Baltimore Opera, the University of Tennessee College of Business Advisory Board, and Dominion Resources. For several years, he chaired the boards of the B&O Railroad Museum and the Baltimore City Life Museums.
While not an alumnus of Maryville College himself, Leatherwood has many family connections to MC: his grandparents met when his grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Rasey, came from Michigan to attend Maryville College in 1911, and several family members are MC alumni, including his mother, Frances Feezell Leatherwood ’37; mother-in-law, Grace Wallace Anthony ’31; sister-in-law, Sue Anthony Dawson ’69; brother-in-law, Joe Dawson ’69; and nephew, David Dawson ’01 (spouse Jennifer Ferren Dawson ’02). There are also several relatives who attended Maryville College's Preparatory Department in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“Richard would have been proud to know that he had helped provide a special place for business students to gather and work,” said his wife, Mary Ann Leatherwood, after a recent visit to campus to tour the business center. “He had a keen regard for hard work and felt that a strong work ethic was an admirable character trait. My family and I are grateful to Maryville College for showing us a way we could honor Richard’s memory by helping aspiring students attain their goal of a business degree through the established scholarship and for guiding the development of the business lab. Richard considered it a privilege to be able to show his appreciation to the College for the quality education and sound guidance it has afforded several of his extended family members.”
Since it opened this year, the business center has been utilized by many students and faculty members – and has fit a variety of needs.
“While the pandemic has complicated use of the space this fall for regular class meetings, the Richard Leatherwood Business Center has met unexpected needs,” said Dr. Sharon May, chair of the Division of Social Sciences and associate professor of economics at Maryville College. “We have been able to offer it for students who need a quiet space to work outside of their residence hall rooms, for students who need access to a working computer while theirs is being repaired, and to support online comprehensive exams. We also anticipate using it for advising during the upcoming registration period as we assist first-year students in designing their spring schedules. This gift has made a difficult time a little bit easier to manage.”
May added that she has been wishing for a computer lab teaching space in Thaw Hall since she joined the Maryville College faculty 15 years ago.
“Having this space dedicated to teaching in the Business Program and more broadly in the Social Sciences is a dream come true,” she said.