October 6, 2022

Duke Energy donates $25,000 to FMU sensory education lab

Duke Energy donates $25,000 to FMU sensory education lab

Duke Energy has made a $25,000 donation to Francis Marion University to supply a new sensory lab for the university’s School of Education.

The new lab will enhance FMU’s current education programs by providing additional resources to teach children through special sensory techniques. While the lab will be housed under Francis Marion’s School of Education, it will benefit students across many disciplines, including a new collateral and minor in Autism and Neurodiversity Studies created in conjunction with the psychology and speech and language pathology departments.

“Duke Energy has long been a strong advocate for Francis Marion University,” says Fred Carter, president of FMU. “This new sensory lab will allow three of our academic disciplines to collaborate on developing better processes for treating and educating children with autism spectrum disorders. This is a new endeavor for the university, and we are pleased to have Duke join us both as a partner and as a philanthropist.”

The sensory lab will be equipped with items used in various teaching practices benefiting autistic students. Sensory items used include weighted vests, light projectors, audiosedation systems, gel mats, and other sensory items. The lab will focus on instructing special education, early childhood education, elementary education, and secondary education teacher candidates on best practices when working with autistic students.

“Duke Energy is proud to further our partnership with Francis Marion University, and continue to support the opportunities they provide their students and the region,” says Mindy Taylor, government and community relations manager for Duke Energy. “This sensory laboratory will provide experience to the students who utilize it, as well as those who receive treatment here. Our entire community benefits from the results of the work done here.”

The sensory lab will be part of a new classroom building scheduled for construction on the Francis Marion University’s main campus. The new building will house Francis Marion’s School of Education as well as the School of Business and is expected to be completed in 2024. Construction on the new facility is expected to begin during the 2023 spring semester.

The $24 million, 60,000 sq. ft. facility was funded entirely through state appropriations during the 2021-22 fiscal year. Located across the pond from the Lee Nursing Building on FMU’s main campus, the building is expected to be completed in 2024.