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Left to Right: Matt Ruiz, Vinci Rucchiuti, Fred Ruiz, Kim Ruiz Beck, Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Mary Castro, Dr. Robert Harper, and Jodi Benbrook. (Dan Waterhouse/The Collegian)

Fresno State breaks ground on new business building with executive classrooms

Campus leaders broke ground on Thursday morning for two new executive classrooms at the University Business Center.

The classrooms are expected to be completed by the beginning of fall 2019. They will be located at the northeast corner of the business center’s patio area. The business center is in the Peters Business Building complex. There will also be improvements to the existing business center, including a renewed courtyard area which will include a kitchen for serving food.

According to Dr. Robert Harper, the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, the classrooms will replicate what business executives would expect to find in a learning or meeting space. Stadium seating and the latest innovative educational technology will be incorporated in both.

A rendering shows the proposed look of the Ruiz Foods Executive Classrooms building expected to be built at Fresno State by the fall of 2019. (Fresno State)

The classrooms are largely financed by a donation from the Ruiz Foods company in Dinuba, according to Fresno State News. The company pledged $1 million for them in May a year ago. Vinci Ricchiuti, chair of the Fresno State Foundation board of governors, said the foundation is partnering financially in the project.

In remarks before the groundbreaking ceremony, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro thanked the Ruiz family for its support of the university. Castro remarked he’s grateful for the support of Fred Ruiz and his team at Ruiz Foods.

Ruiz family members are longtime campus supporters. Fred Ruiz is a founder of the Institute for Family Business. The institute promotes family businesses as a catalyst for economic growth.  Kim Ruiz Beck, chairperson of Ruiz Foods, is a Fresno State alumna and serves on the board of governors for the foundation. She was honored with the Top Dog Alumna Award in 2017 by the Alumni Association.

Castro was joined in making remarks by Harper; Ricchiuti; Martin Dietz, managing partner for Darden Architects; Jodi Benbrook,the 2018 Graduate Dean’s Medalist for the Craig School of Business; and Ruiz Beck.

Castro was joined by his wife Mary Castro, Ricchiuti, Harper, Ruiz Beck, Benbrook and Fred and Matt Ruiz in the groundbreaking itself.

The classrooms, according to Harper, will be primarily used by students in the executive Masters in Business Administration and accelerated bachelor’s programs, but will “serve as vital spaces for other students within the university as well.”  He added that the spaces will be available for rental to the community from the business center.