Raley Hall, Home To The Walker College of Business

The Walker College of Business is located within Thelma C. Raley Hall. Opened in 1990, the 130,000 square-foot, four-story building is in the middle of the Appalachian State University campus. It was named and dedicated in honor of Thelma C. Raley in 1993.

The building houses the dean’s suite, offices for graduate and undergraduate advising, and facilities for the six departments in the college: accounting; computer information systems; economics; finance, banking and insurance; marketing; and management. There are also separate suites for the Richard S. Brantley Risk and Insurance Center and Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship.

Boyles LobbyInstructional areas consist of two auditoriums, three lecture halls, 26 classrooms of varying sizes, student computer lab, and eight conference rooms. Three large lounges provide a place to gather and study for undergraduates, graduates and faculty.

The Walker College of Business shares Raley Hall with the university’s Academic Computing Services on the second floor and Information Technology Services on the first floor.

At the time of its completion, Raley Hall received the 1990 Architectural Brick Award from the Brick Association of North Carolina. The building was cited for the use of different colors of brick, for a design that breaks up the mass of the building without dwarfing neighboring buildings, its curved glass block wall and its pedestrian access.

In April 2004 the second-floor Howard Street entrance lobby of Raley Hall was renovated and dedicated in memory of former State Treasurer Harlan E. Boyles. The lobby contains comfortable chairs for seating and tables for study. On the walls are custom-made display cases highlighting memorabilia from Treasurer Boyles’ career and personal life. A built-in media center is available for various college functions.

History Of The College

The college had its beginning as a department in the College of Fine and Applied Arts and was located on the top floor of Smith-Wright Hall. In 1971, the Walker College of Business was established.

In 1976, the College of Business was relocated to a new 55,000 square-foot, three-story building and both the building and college were named for John A. Walker. At the time, the college included 53 faculty members and 1,600 undergraduate students, the largest undergraduate enrollment in the state of North Carolina. The building was utilized at full capacity, and between 1976 and 1983, the number of business degrees awarded increased by 71 percent and the number of faculty nearly doubled.

In 1985, funds for the initial design and planning of a new building for the college were appropriated by the North Carolina legislature. The groundbreaking was in April of 1988 and the building was completed in the summer of 1990.

John A. Walker

John WalkerJohn Walker was a native of Pennsylvania and a graduate of Northwestern University. He was a businessman, philanthropist, and civic and community leader from North Wilkesboro, NC. Walker had served as president and was one of the founding directors of Lowe’s Companies.

At the time of the naming of the college and building, Walker was Executive Vice-President for Sales and Profits of Lowe’s Companies. In 1976, he donated $250,000 as the first major gift in the "Investment for Merit" campaign to raise $1.5 million for the college. This gift represented only the beginning of his long association with and enthusiastic commitment to the college. He remained active with fund-raising, assisted with faculty and student recruitment efforts and, at the time of his death in 1984, served as the chairperson of the college’s Business Advisory Council.

Thelma C. Raley

Thelma RaleyThelma Raley, a resident of Winter Haven, Fla. and Blowing Rock, N.C., was a successful businesswoman, civic leader and pioneer in the Florida citrus industry. As the owner of Raley Grove Properties for more than 50 years, she was recognized as one of the top women citrus growers in the South.

Raley graduated from Messer Business College and attended Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University). A mother of three, she realized a lifelong ambition when she completed her studies and received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Appalachian in December 1992 at the age of 80. She made a substantial financial commitment to the Walker College of Business.