Francis Marion's 468-acre main campus is rightly known for its beauty and serenity. The campus includes acres of mixed pine-hardwood and bottomland forests accessed by a series of trails.

The “woodsy” feel is a fit with the surrounding countryside, but the campus trees were carefully cultivated during the early years. Thousands were planted, on what was, at inception, largely farmland. Combined with an equal number of complementary ornamental shrubs and small trees, an oasis of beauty was created.

As the flora matures, the natural palette is constantly changing, a delight for those who work and study at FMU. Indeed, the campus is something of a laboratory. Several forested acres have been set aside as an Arboretum, and a common sight on campus is a Biology class collecting specimens around the three-fingered pond behind the Lee Nursing Building.

Facilities

 

Francis Marion University is located on what many believe is one of the most scenic campuses in South Carolina, if not the the Southeast. The university was carved from field and forest less than 50 years ago, with extensive landscaping added over the years. Nestled amongst the pines, azaleas and dogwoods are the facilities that house all the academic and support activities that comprise the contemporary university. FMU devotes substantial time and resources to maintaining those buildings, and sustaining the beauty and vibrancy of the campus.

 

The university has added ten new facilities to campus — seven on the main campus and three on the downtown campus in Florence — in the past decade. All were designed by nationally or regionally renowned architects and are aesthetically integrated into the settings around them. Most incorporate internal and/or  external water features which enhance the tranquility of the buildings.

 

But they are all highly functional facilities, and they were all paid for before construction was started.  Raising money before building something new, rather than borrowing from future generations to retire debt, has played an essential role in making FMU South Carolina’s most affordable university.

The Heart of the Pee Dee

Francis Marion University is located on the outskirts of Florence, S.C. in the heart of South Carolina’s famed Pee Dee Region. The Pee Dee (named for the local river system, which in turn has a Native American lineage) encompasses the northeastern corner of South Carolina. It’s a largely rural area, noted for its agriculture and its wildlife. It’s a sportsman’s paradise, with abundant opportunities for fishing and hunting.

Florence is a growing city of more than 40,000 and the center of a market region of more than 300,000. The city began as a railroad town, serving the junction of east-west and north-south lines. Today the area bustles with industry and facilities that are part of Fortune 500 companies such as Johnson Controls, Honda, General Electric, and United Technology’s Otis Elevator division.

Florence is an economic, cultural, education, and medical hub for northeastern South Carolina. Two major hospitals, and their affiliates, and several other large medical practices operate in Florence. Healthcare is the region’s number one employer.

True to its roots, Florence also remains a transportation hub. Both railroads and interstates cross paths here. While Florence is fast-developing its own cultural and entertainment offerings, Florentines have long enjoyed the easy access to places like Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston and the South Carolina Grand Strand.

In the Community

Francis Marion is a product of a region’s hopes and desires. Fittingly, through its history it maintained a number of long and fruitful relationships with the people, and the institutions, of Florence and the Pee Dee. A number of partnerships exist among the University and the surrounding communities that have been especially productive over the years.

Formal community programs created, operated or nurtured by FMU included the North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA — a business recruitment organization), the Non-Profit Leadership Institution, the Rural Leadership Institute, the Pee Dee Education Center, Arts International, the Francis Marion Trail Commission, and ScienceSouth’s NASA Saturdays in the Pee Dee. All of these programs have provided tremendous benefits for the citizens of the region. But FMU’s involvement is much deeper than that. The University is a stalwart supporter of, and partner in, numerous community events, and members of FMU’s staff and faculty deliver significant time and talent each year to local charities, places of worship, and non-profit organizations.

The partnerships even extend to facilities. FMU’s Griffin Athletic Complex is home to the Florence RedWolves collegiate summer league baseball team, and the University’s decision to build its new Performing Arts Center and the Carter Center for Health Sciences in downtown Florence has contributed substantially to area arts and medical institutions.