A little-used room in the Kelce College of Business used to have a sign proclaiming "Do Not Enter" on the door.
However, on Friday afternoon, a ceremonial ribbon across the doorway was cut and university staff and employees of Fastenal streamed into the newly dubbed Kelce Backstage Commons .
Kelce long had provided some rehearsal space for the PSU band in an area that had been the dressing rooms for College High School, which previously was housed in the building, however the availability of other space on campus allowed the band to move and opened up the room.
Grimes said the room was not in good shape, but that the college began eyeing it for other uses.
"One of the things we have really lacked here was public space for our students," he said.
Meanwhile, Fastenal, which has many Gorilla graduates among the ranks of its employees, expressed a desire to give back.
"They have historically recruited students from Pittsburg State and Kelce College of Business in particular," Grimes said.
"We became aware that recruiting as an industry functions like we were consumers," said Joe Stephens, regional vice president for Fastenal. "We actually wanted to participate in the education process."
Grimes said his department wanted to transform the space, and Fastenal representatives were eager to help give back to the university that has produced many of the company’s employees.
"Pitt State produces a student that is very technical savvy and very comfortable in industrial environments," Stephens said. "Their students notoriously have a very strong work ethic."
He said the interactions between the company and faculty have left him even more impressed.
"All of our interactions with the faculty, we walk away understanding what they’re actually trying to do," he continued.
This combination of experiences made Fastenal eager to seek out how best to target its gift.
"We wanted to get alongside what he (Grimes) is trying to do with the university," Stephens said.
"They made a generous gift a year ago," Grimes said, adding that the renovations were complete in time for students to get a sneak peak before leaving campus this spring.
The result of those conversations are a commons area that will be open any time the building is open, which includes a gathering spot, a large room with tables, office space for Enactus and the MBA Association, a wifi repeater, ample electrical outlets and more.
Grimes said his dream for the room is to see students collaborating and enjoying the space.
"I’d like to see it full of students working," he said.
Stephens said he is pleased with the result.
"It’s turned out so much better than I could imagine," Stephens said. "I’m thrilled."