BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Those who stepped into the newly renovated learning center on the West Virginia University-Institute of Technology’s Beckley campus on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, for a ribbon cutting ceremony by Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce might have thought contractors stopped short of finishing.

A ceiling grate at the back of the room exposed wires and valves – a sharp contrast to the sleek whiteboards and freshly-painted walls at the front of the room.

But WVU-Tech officials said the new lab is finished and just what students need.

“At the front of the classroom, where teaching will take place, and on the whiteboards, we wanted to make it more upscale and traditional classroom environment,” said WVU-Tech Regional Facilities Management Director Rob Moyer. “But the back of the room, where I’m standing, had some features we’re not going to be able to hide, or move around.”

Alum John Jarrett, president of Jarrett Construction in Charleston, donated funds to build the lab, which gives students in the construction management program a hands-on learning experience by allowing them to examine the inner workings of a facility’s construction.

“Construction management is near and dear to my heart, and everyone in my company’s heart,” said Jarrett. “That’s what we do. We design and build buildings all over the state of West Virginia. And West Virgina Tech my beloved alma mater, which I’m really fond of, has the only construction managmenet program, the only four year degreed program in the state of West Virginia.”

Beckley Treasurer Billie Trump and local realtor Kenny Bryant have said new construction, particularly residential construction, is necessary for the development of southern West Virginia.

WVU-Tech Chief of Staff Jen Wood said the construction management program, which graduated its second cohort earlier this year, helps fill a need for new construction in the Beckley area.

She said Jarrett’s donation, along with his mentorship of students, is a benefit.

“John has hired many of our construction management students and graduates, and we know that many of our students go off into the work force and work for alumni and local companies,” said WVU-Tech Chief of Staff Jen Wood. “We have so many students who graduate and stay here at home, and this is a great opportunity for our students to be connected with a great alumnus.”