The Marshall University Foundation has announced that Wes and Martha Richardson have pledged $50,000 in support of the new Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation at Marshall University with Northwestern Mutual matching the gift for a combined $100,000.
Hailing from Huntington, Wes Richardson, the managing partner of Northwestern Mutual West Virginia, and Martha Richardson, a Marshall graduate with undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, have been steadfast supporters of the Big Green Scholarship Foundation for several years. With the establishment of the new business center, the Richardsons have chosen to enhance their philanthropic commitment to the university, marking a significant stride in their ongoing support for Marshall’s educational endeavors.
“If you look at our Huntington office, a majority of our successful advisors are graduates of Marshall,” Wes said. “Marshall University stands as an invaluable source and steadfast partner for Northwestern Mutual, contributing to our shared achievements and growth.”
The facility, which is being built in the 1400 block of Fourth Avenue and scheduled to open in early 2024, is expected to be 77,000 gross square feet, and will house classroom space, a forum and auditorium, computer and finance labs, office space, meeting rooms and study spaces for students. It will be the center for economic advancement in the region, with the capability of hosting both small and large business gatherings.
The gift will be named for Northwestern Mutual as part of two interview rooms within the John F. Rahal Center for Strategic Engagement. The Rahal Center seeks to raise the visibility of the college as it fulfills its mission to be the major contributor to the region’s economic development.
Northwestern Mutual has a nationwide internship program, of which Marshall is a part of, that provides students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the financial and insurance industry.
“It aligns seamlessly with Marshall University’s overarching vision, dedicated to enhancing career opportunities for its graduates within the local community. Our interns actively engage with clients, striving to cultivate their professional skills while gaining valuable experience in comprehending individuals’ financial objectives. We aim to deliver tailored plans that empower clients to achieve their financial goals,” Wes said.
The new facility will give Marshall students access to a first-class education in a dynamic environment that will enhance and encourage various types of learning and collaboration. The facility will also serve as the hub for student-centric activities, providing students not only with instructional resources but also facilitating the practice and expertise that will prepare them post-graduation.
“This marks the inception of an exciting journey,” Wes said. “Grateful for our presence in the Huntington community, we recognize the significance of giving back, particularly to the university that has shaped the education of the majority in our firm. Investing in Marshall University is an investment in the future prosperity of our firm.”
Northwestern Mutual was founded in 1857 in Wisconsin and is a financial planning company that assists clients in reaching their financial goals through a delivered financial plan and a lifelong relationship with a financial advisor. The company has had offices in West Virginia since 1867, and there are currently 60 financial advisors throughout the state with offices in Charleston, Barboursville, Bridgeport, Huntington, Morgantown and Parkersburg, as well as branching into the surrounding areas of southeastern Ohio, eastern Kentucky and northern Virginia.
Caption: Wes and Martha Richardson (second and third from left) are pictured with Marshall Foundation President and CEO Ron Area (left), Nancy Lankton, associate dean of the Lewis College of Business and Daniel Miller, director of philanthropy for the foundation.