April 21, 2022

FMU Trustees authorize studies to acquire Dargan’s Pond, extends president’s contract

FMU Trustees authorize studies to acquire Dargan’s Pond, extends president’s contract

Francis Marion University’s Board of Trustees approved resolutions exploring the acquisition of Dargan’s Pond and extending the contract of the university’s president through 2029.


Board members, some who joined Thursday’s specially called meeting at The Cottage on FMU’s main campus virtually, approved both resolutions unanimously.


Dargan’s Pond is a 50-acre pond and popular recreational area on the border of Florence and Darlington counties. The property was closed to the public in 2016 when a dam was damaged during Hurricane Matthew. Local legislative and community leaders have since approached Francis Marion to pursue restoring the site in lieu of it being decommissioned.


Clemson University, which currently operates Dargan’s Pond as part of its Pee Dee Research and Education Center, has stated its willingness to transfer the property to FMU.


Francis Marion Board Chairman Robert E. Lee said that trustees felt extending Carter’s contract was appropriate to ensure this and several other university projects continue.


“With three buildings under construction in the four years, half-a-dozen new academic programs, and now Dargan’s Pond, the board wanted to ensure that Fred would stay with us to oversee the completion of these efforts,” Lee said. “The entire board was enthusiastic and insistent about keeping him here.” 


“I am deeply appreciative of the board’s continued confidence,” Carter said. “Folly and I love FMU. It’s our home, and the faculty and staff with whom we have worked over the past two decades are family. I already had a few years left on my current contract, but I certainly understand the board’s desire to have leadership continuity in the completion of these new capital and programmatic initiatives.”


Carter has served as FMU’s president since 1999.


Dargan’s Pond first opened as a recreation area in 1962.  Thursday’s resolution authorizes FMU to conduct engineering, soil, and permitting studies on the property and, if deemed feasible, accept transfer of Dargan’s Pond in order to restore its use as a recreational area.


Pending favorable results, the resolution authorizes the president to accept the transfer of the property, subject to approval of the board’s executive committee.


Dargan’s Pond is less than two miles from Francis Marion University’s Freshwater Ecology Center, which opened earlier this year. Acquiring the property would complement the Center’s research and teaching activities and further the university’s community service mission.