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2006

Trustees OK Partnership With City of Florence To Build Downtown Performing Arts Center; Room and Board Fees Increased; President Carter's Contract Extended

          FLORENCE---The Francis Marion University Board of Trustees approved a resolution Friday (Feb. 3) to authorize the university to enter into a partnership agreement with the City of Florence to build a Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Florence.

          In a January announcement, the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation agreed to give FMU $10 million to build the FMU Center for the Performing Arts at the corner of Dargan and Palmetto streets. 

          The facility, expected to cost about $17 million, will be used for theatrical and musical performances and will include office and instructional classroom space.

          State Sen. Hugh Leatherman obtained $1 million in downtown redevelopment funds which will go toward construction costs.

          The $6 million balance will still need to be raised to fund construction. These dollars are expected to come from a variety of sources, including community fund-raising.

          Both the land, currently owned by the city, and the performing arts center building will be deeded to FMU, which will act as fiduciary agent for construction and operation of the center and employ the center’s director. FMU and the City of Florence will share operational and maintenance costs. 

          A five-member governing board, three appointed by the university’s president and two by the city’s mayor, will set policy for operating the facility.

           FMU President Fred Carter said that the earliest completion date for the facility would probably be 2008 and the latest by 2011, depending upon how soon the $6 million balance could be raised.

           Carter said the $10 million donation pushed the university’s five-year capital campaign beyond the $31 million mark and well past its original $12 million goal. The $10 million gift is the largest in school history, and the university’s endowment has more than doubled during the 4 ½ -year campaign to about $19 million.

          The trustees also raised fees for campus housing and meal plans for the 2006-2007 academic year. The increased rates for the various housing options will average about 10 percent, while food plans will go up an average of four percent.

          Residence hall rooms will go up $100 per semester from $1,380 to $1,480. Rooms with the required 19-meal plan will increase from $2,565 to $2,715 per semester.

          The four-bedroom apartment rates will go up from $1,440 to $1,585 per semester. The one-bedroom apartment rate will increase from $1,495 to $1,650 per semester. The Forest Villas apartment rates will increase from $1,725 to $1,995 per semester.

          The 14-meal plan will increase $45, from $1,100 to $1,145 per semester, while the 19-meal plan will go up from $1,185 to $1,235 per semester.

          Despite these increases, FMU remains below what other colleges charge for these services, according to William Coleman of Florence, who chaired the board’s Financial Affairs and Facilities Committee.

          Following an executive session, the trustees authorized Chairman Ken Jackson to execute a five-year extension to President Carter’s contract through 2015.                                                                               

          “It should come as no surprise that the board is extremely pleased with the job President Carter has done and with the faculty and staff team he’s assembled at the university,” said Jackson. “Extending his contract is our way of expressing our appreciation for the outstanding leadership he has provided to the university.”

          Carter also serves as a tenured professor of political science, and at his request teaches one course per semester.  As president, Carter is responsible for providing educational services to more than 4,000 students, an annual operating budget of more than $40 million, nearly 500 employees and a physical plant worth about $127 million.

          The trustees also learned that the university has received $1.3 million in deferred maintenance funds, most of which will be used to repair and replace heating and air conditioning systems and to renovate McNair Auditorium.

          In other action, the trustees named the university arboretum in honor of Professor Emeritus Lawrence F. Swails, a retired faculty member who served for many years as chairman of the FMU Biology Department. Swails was instrumental in establishing and maintaining the arboretum, which is located on the southeast end of the campus. The arboretum makes possible the cultivation of trees, shrubs and plants for scientific and educational purposes.

          They also approved naming the clinical laboratory in the new nursing building under construction in memory of the late Elizabeth Williamson Barnes, a distinguished nurse practitioner and educator who was vice president of nursing for the Bruce Hospital System upon her death in 1990. 

#127 / 2-3-06
Last Published: February 15, 2007 9:46 AM
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