FLORENCE – Francis Marion University dedicated its state-of-the-art child care center Aug. 14, setting the stage for a place that will serve as the state model for the dissemination of best practices in early childhood education.
The $5 million Gail and Terry Richardson Center for the Child will offer child care services to the children of community members, students, faculty and staff ages six weeks to five years old. In addition, the center will be a child development and evaluation clinic to train students, giving them firsthand experience in dealing with the children it will serve.
FMU President Fred Carter, university representatives and more than 150 guests helped commemorate the new building with a dedication ceremony and the presentation of a framed copy of the bronze plaque honoring Gail and Terry Richardson. The honorees, who have been long-time supporters of FMU and enthusiastic proponents for establishing the Center for the Child, performed the ribbon cutting.
Gail Ness Richardson has served on the FMU Board of Trustees since 1988, and was the first woman elected to a two-year term as chair in 2003. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Queens College in Charlotte and a master’s in library science from the University of South Carolina. She has been a public school teacher and a community advocate for education.
Terry E. Richardson Jr. is a successful attorney with the law firm Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman in Barnwell. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Clemson University and a law degree at the University of South Carolina. He received the President’s Award for Service from the S.C. Trial Lawyers Association in 1994, and the Compleat Lawyer Award from the S.C. Bar in 2003.
Following the dedication, attendees were given guided tours of the 17,200-square-foot, one-story facility. The center includes a child-care wing of two infant rooms, two toddler rooms, two rooms for three- and four-year-olds, and two rooms for four- and five-year-olds; an office area for psychology and education faculty members; a central lobby and library that will also function as a family waiting area; observation and assessment rooms; and an outdoor play area.
Gifts from generous donors provided the inspiration for FMU’s Education Foundation to establish an endowment to realize the mission of the center.
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