Omar Asali headshot
Omar Asali. Photo courtesy of Asali.

A $1 million gift to Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business will establish the Asali Learning Accelerator, an academic support space housed in the under-construction Global Business and Analytics Complex, known as GBAC.* Omar Asali (accounting ’92), chairman and chief executive officer of Ranpak Holdings Corp., with his wife, Rula, made the gift through their Omar and Rula Asali Foundation.

The Asali Learning Accelerator will play a key role in enhancing academic excellence for Pamplin students for years to come. Recognizing the exceptional trajectory of the students enrolling in Pamplin, the accelerator will provide a dedicated space for Pamplin undergraduates to receive and deliver academic coaching services that are tailored to support students’ individual academic goals.

As within the Pamplin Engage Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program, students can secure work as academic coaches based on their subject matter expertise. Students interested in accelerating academic competencies by subject matter area can sync up with a peer academic coach as part of the services provided to Pamplin students.

Both Pamplin Engage and Pamplin academic coaches offer students great experience that prepares them for management and leadership roles. For the students who receive the benefit of engaging with an undergraduate teaching assistant or a Pamplin academic coach, their overall learning experience is enhanced and Pamplin students will be better positioned to realize optimal academic success and to explore subject matter through a more individualized learning experience.

Initiatives such as the long-running Pamplin Undergraduate Mentoring Program (PUMP) and a range of other academic and co-curricular activities in the college will also take place in the new space.

“We are grateful for Omar and Rula Asali’s generous commitment and for their continued philanthropic leadership and engagement in Pamplin,” said Pamplin Dean Robert Sumichrast. “This announcement marks a tremendous milestone in Pamplin’s efforts to scale its learning offerings for our undergraduate students.

“Building on the successes of cornerstone programs like Pamplin Engage and PUMP, the Asali Learning Accelerator will offer countless touchpoints for students to bolster their technical knowledge and mastery of curriculum through a customized approach. From reviewing coursework assignments to completing advanced work that may be ahead of the syllabus timetable, the accelerator will enable students to deepen both their technical skills and soft skills around communication, problem-solving, and more before entering the workforce.”

Omar Asali

Asali is no stranger to focusing on the needs of industry and the global community. As a global leader of environmentally sustainable, paper-based packaging solutions for e-commerce and industrial supply chains, Ranpak is committed to improving supply chain performance and costs while reducing environmental impact. In his role as chairman and CEO, Asali focuses on the ongoing transformation of Ranpak's now 50-year history of leading the market in sustainable, systems‐based packaging solutions.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asali ensured donations were made to local food pantries near Ranpak headquarters in Concord, Ohio, and the Netherlands, as well as to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. These funds covered onsite meals, comfort stations, and lodging for hospital staff treating COVID-19 patients as well as delivery of meals to hospital staff who became infected with the virus.

Asali is also no stranger to giving back to his alma mater. He has served on the Board of the Virginia Tech Foundation since 2018, was a Wells Fargo Distinguished Lecturer at Pamplin, and guest lectured at the college’s Ethics Week 2021 on the role of sustainability in the future of business. Asali has hired graduate students from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, and Ranpak has loaned equipment to the College of Natural Resources to support learning activities.

Asali’s distinctive leadership continues to improve our environment and our society’s future. By naming one of the widely used and prominent spaces within GBAC, Asali will make possible a new educational experience that will prepare generations of Pamplin graduates for the workforce.

“Rula and I are proud to support educational initiatives that mentor students in both the classroom and applied situations,” Asali said. “Having immigrated to the United States from Jordan, I am grateful for the education I received from Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. The foundation of my undergraduate education 30 years ago well prepared me for the workforce and for graduate business school at Columbia University. The vision for GBAC elevates Virginia Tech’s reputation and reach with first-rate facilities that bring together business, engineering, and science across one ecosystem.”

Asali continued, “I am a business operator as well as an investor. In addition to being chairman and CEO of Ranpak, I am chairman of One Madison Group, where I invest my own capital alongside other partners with a long-term multigenerational view. GBAC is a multigenerational philanthropic investment that will impact the trajectory for the next 50 years for business education and will prepare the next generation of leaders to address the complex issues facing business and society.”

The Global Business and Analytics Complex

The Asali Learning Accelerator will be located within GBAC, a $250 million project to erect two new academic buildings near the prominent northwestern entrance to the Blacksburg campus and two living-learning communities anticipated to be built in the proposed Student Life Village. The complex’s academic buildings are expected to provide roughly 220,000 square feet of space for teaching, research, and collaboration by faculty and students from multiple colleges, with a focus on data analytics and decision-making in a transdisciplinary approach.

Construction continues to progress on the Data and Decision Sciences Building, GBAC’s first academic structure, which is anticipated to open in spring 2023, following a one-year design cycle and two-year construction timeline.

At its April 2022 meeting, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a resolution to design the second academic building within GBAC, where the Asali Learning Accelerator will be located.

The Asalis’ commitment is the most recent seven-figure philanthropic investment in the GBAC initiative that is nearing its final stages of what will be the largest capital project to date supported by private philanthropy for Virginia Tech. With more than $36 million committed by donors, the fundraising for the second building continues with $4 million remaining to raise to ensure the full vision of the design for this transformational building is realized with expected construction to be completed by 2025. The academic buildings will be connected through the GBAC Commons.

GBAC is designed to foster interaction between students and faculty from multiple programs and will focus on many of the most pressing needs of industry and society. The Asali Learning Accelerator will be modeled with these goals in mind.

*Naming recognition shall be made in accordance with the Virginia Tech Commemorative Tributes Policy and is subject to approval by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. 

Latest GBAC construction photos

Data and Decision Sciences Building exterior construction, June 2022.
Exterior construction of Data and Decision Sciences Building within GBAC, June 2022. Photo: Meghan Marsh for Virginia Tech.
Hokie Stone being installed on Data and Decision Sciences Building
Exterior construction of Data and Decision Sciences Building within GBAC, June 2022. Photo: Meghan Marsh for Virginia Tech.
Data and Decision Sciences Building exterior construction with crowd of reunion attendees on tour in orange PPE
Hard hat tour of the Data and Decision Sciences Building within GBAC during reunion 2022 activities, June 2022. Photo: Meghan Marsh for Virginia Tech.
Tour attendees within great room with extensive scaffolding within the Data & Decision Sciences Building
Interior tour of common space within the Data and Decision Sciences Building, June 2022. Photo: Alexa Briehl for Virginia Tech.
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