June 28, 2023

Building Blocks

Building Blocks

Building Blocks

July 2023  |  FMU Donor Report 2020-2022

FMU Forestry Feasibility Rendering 1 cropped

Over the past decade, Francis Marion University has added quite a few new buildings – the Carter Center, the Leatherman Medical Complex, the Honors Center, University Place, and the Freshwater Ecology Lab and Conference Center – but the building has only just begun as the university has recently embarked on the largest construction campaign in its 53-year history. All in all, over $80 million in new construction projects and renovations will transform the main campus over the coming years.

“It’s time,” says FMU President Fred Carter. “We have a beautiful campus, and we’ve been fortunate over the last two decades that our legislative delegation has worked diligently to acquire construction and renovation funding for us. We’ve also benefited from the generosity of other public and non-profit entities in developing programs, building new additions to the campus, and maintaining our infrastructure. Now we’re ready to take a major step and invest another $80-90M in capital construction over the next five years.”

All of the planned projects will be completed without incurring any major debt, something the university is particularly proud of. Only the $5 million renovation of the Smith University Center’s student activity and athletic space will be financed, and it will fall under the regime of an existing athletic bond. The upshot is that FMU will once again expand its physical facility without passing on indebtedness to future generations of Patriots.

“It has always been our goal to acquire construction funding outside the institution so that student tuition is not encumbered by these costs,” says Carter. “I think that we’ve been successful in accomplishing this over the years. That’s why our tuition remains one of the most affordable in South Carolina. New, contemporary buildings, with little debt, and the lowest tuition in the state. You know, that’s a formula that works for us, and more importantly, for our students and parents.”

THE PROJECTS

School of Education and School of Business

The largest of the new building projects is the 60,000-square foot School of Education and School of Business building. This building is currently under construction and will be located beside the three-fingered lake, across from the Lee Nursing Building. This new facility will house FMU’s oldest professional schools and include classrooms, an auditorium, office space, and gathering spaces. The building is expected to be completed and open for classes in the 2024-2025 academic year. It is funded by an appropriation from the State of South Carolina.

C. Edward Floyd Medical Consortium Building

The C. Edward Floyd Medical Consortium Building will be added to FMU’s campus in downtown Florence. This space will be operated by FMU as part of the university’s role in the new Pee Dee Medical and Health Science Educational Consortium, an academic partnership between FMU, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina that was formed in 2020 with the purpose of expanding and establishing medical education and graduate health science

programs in the Pee Dee Region. The facility will house academic facilities and office space to support undergraduate medical education (third- and fourth-year medical from MUSC and USC-School of Medicine), and other graduate health science programs under development. The building – FMU’s sixth major structure in downtown Florence – will be built at the site of the old Circle Park School on Cheves Street. The $21 million project is expected to be complete in Summer 2025, and is supported by the State of South Carolina, the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation, and the City of Florence. It’s named for Dr. C. Edward “Eddie” Floyd, a well-known cardiologist in Florence and long-time friend of FMU.

Engineering Workshop

A $1 million Engineering Workshop will also be built on campus to provide space for technical and applied learning for FMU’s growing Department of Engineering and its Industrial and Mechanical Engineering programs. Industrial-scale machinery will be housed in the building which will be built in the center of campus, sharing the parking lot for the Stanton Center for Technology.

Forestry and Environmental Sciences Building

The final new building planned at this time is the Forestry and Environmental Sciences Building expected to open in 2025. This building will play a key part of the university’s array of innovative new programs in the environmental sciences. This $18 million facility will include classrooms, offices, and an auditorium to support FMU’s new degree programs in environmental science and forestry. It will be built on the west side of Francis Marion Drive, just south of the Griffin Athletic Complex, near the existing South Carolina Department ofs Natural Resources office. A newly created lake will be built beside the structure.

RENOVATIONS

Outside of the four new buildings, FMU is also initiating a series of projects that will renew and refresh core facilities across campus. Over $8 million has been assigned to major revitalization work at the Smith University Center, the Rogers Library, the McNair Science Building, the Leatherman Science Facility and Founders Hall; and more than $9 million is slated for upgrades to infrastructure.

The University Center, the largest and one of the busiest buildings on campus, will be dramatically renovated and refreshed, just as it turns 50 this year. The Smith Center is home to the FMU Athletic Department and serves as headquarters for student life at FMU. The university bookstore and the university health office are also located there. The $5 million renovation will be complete in fall 2023.

The McNair Science Building and the Leatherman Science Facility will receive new roofs and renovated restrooms. The first floor of the Rogers Library will get a new floor and new furnishings and other enhancements. Similar work will take place at Founders Hall. Even while that work is taking place, the university is seeking an additional $9 million for a more comprehensive renovation of the building that houses the majority of FMU classes and faculty offices.

Renovation of FMU’s Village Apartments will continue while the university completes plans for a major overhaul of its student housing.

Work will also begin on FMU’s $9 million plan to refurbish campus parking lots and surface roads and to upgrade critical infrastructure across campus. Numerous projects are already approved and funded and will be completed by 2024. The university is still in the process of obtaining additional approvals and funding, but plenty is in the pipeline. The work will unfold continuously, and comprehensively, transforming the FMU campus into a thoroughly modern layout that not only meets the needs of students today, but also for years to come.

“It’s great that so much will be done so quickly, creating new facilities for students that are in school right now,” says trustee Robert E. Lee (’87), chair of FMU’s Board of Trustees. “But the best part of these plans is the way they set up the university for the future. FMU is going to be in great shape for years to come.”

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