July 29, 2021

FMU expanding campus, academic programs starting Fall 2021

FMU expanding campus, academic programs starting Fall 2021

FLORENCE — With a new semester fast approaching, Francis Marion University is expanding in more ways than one.

At the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees on Thursday, President Dr. Fred Carter reported the University had received $59 million in additional legislative funding for capital improvement projects and operating expenses for 2021-22. He also discussed new academic programs that will be added this fall. 

New capital improvement projects include two academic facilities: $23 million for an academic facility to accommodate the Schools of Business and Education and $21 million to reconstruct the Circle Park facility on Cheves Street in downtown Florence. 

Circle Park will house a medical education consortium comprised of FMU, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina. By 2023, this partnership will host an expanding number of 3rd and 4th year medical students from USC’s School of Medicine and new 3rd and 4th year medical students from MUSC.

Also included in the state appropriations was $8.9 million for infrastructure projects on FMU’s main campus and $1.6 million in recurring operating funding.  

On the academic front, Carter discussed five new programs that will be added to the University’s offerings for the 2021-2022 academic year. These programs include a Veterinary studies option in Biology, a Network Systems management track and a Digital Marketing Degree in the School of Business, an Engineering Technology Program in Mechanical Engineering, and a new healthcare track in Sociology.

Carter stressed the importance of these upcoming additions to the University. “The next few years will be extraordinary for FMU. We have additional funding. We’ll be constructing new facilities. We’ll be offering several new programs, while teaching the exemplary curriculum that’s already in place – all with the finest faculty in the state. This university’s future has never been brighter.”

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the Board of Trustees also approved new COVID-19 protocols in response to recently released guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Copies of those protocols and additional information can be found on the University’s website at www.fmarion.edu/covid19

FMU Statement on Fall 2021 COVID Protocols

On July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control amended its mask and face covering guidelines to recommend that masks be worn in indoor public places by all people regardless of vaccination status. This recommendation was specifically focused on areas experiencing substantial rates of COVID infection due to the spread of the Delta Variant. The Pee Dee region of South Carolina is one of these areas.

Earlier this summer the General Assembly appended two provisos to the 2021-22 Appropriations Act. One of these restricts the authority of public universities regarding masks; the other prohibits them from requiring proof of vaccination “as a condition of enrollment, attendance at on-campus instruction, or residence on-campus.”

Having considered both the CDC amended guidelines and the legislative provisos, the FMU Board of Trustees passed a new set of protocols this afternoon, as recommended by President Carter and the senior staff. A copy of the new protocols is attached to this email.

These protocols recommend that all faculty, staff, students, and visitors – vaccinated and unvaccinated – wear masks or face coverings in all public indoor spaces on campus. They also provide for the continuation of the COVID Response Office, which will offer a comprehensive testing program, to include contact tracing and processes for isolation and quarantine. This Office will once again maintain an electronic dashboard, posting data similar to that provided in 2020-21.

All classrooms and campus facilities will provide for social distancing. In addition, student residences will have lower density, and residential students will be asked to adhere to an additional set of procedures, which will be sent to them by the Director of Housing and Residence Life.

While it is understood that vaccinations are voluntary, the protocols do emphasize their importance in keeping the campus safe. FMU will sponsor several on-campus clinics, beginning with residential-move-in and continuing the first week of classes. Additional clinics will be scheduled twice monthly for the remainder of the semester.

As university officials monitor the incidence of COVID cases on campus and in the surrounding community over the course of the semester, more stringent protocols may be required — consistent with the legislative options available to us.

Accordingly, the Board of Trustees has delegated to the Chair of the Board and the President of the University the authority to modify these protocols as circumstances require.