The institution’s continuing education, outreach, and service programs are consistent with the institution’s mission. (Continuing education/service programs)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion University offers a wide array of programs in the areas of continuing education, outreach, and community service. Information about these programs is published in a variety of ways to ensure accessibility to students, faculty, and staff. These publications include the annually published university catalog, the Francis Marion University website, Francis Marion University’s magazine The View, as well as several other smaller mediums such as third-party websites and course guidelines.

The importance of these programs is reflected in the institution’s mission statement, which commits the university “to serve the needs of Florence and the surrounding areas in ways beyond formal education . . . [and provide] numerous artistic and cultural activities… health initiative and outreach efforts [that] benefit our students and the community . . . [as well as] foster the economic development of the region,” as seen in the Catalog 2016-2017 [1].

Francis Marion University’s involvement in continuing education, outreach, and community service occurs on many different levels. Specific programs and initiatives include the following:

  • Education Outreach and Academic Programming
    • School of Education Professional Development Courses
    • Concurrent Enrollment Courses
    • Dooley Planetarium and Dark Sky Observatory
  • Community Service and Community Needs
    • The Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty
    • Richardson Center for the Child
    • TV Channel 11
    • Non-Profit Leadership Institute
  • Departmental and ad hoc Faculty Outreach
    • Visual and Performing Arts Events
    • Academic Conferences
    • Community Forums
    • Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival
    • Arts International Festival

Education Outreach and Academic Programming

Some of these activities are tied directly to instruction; for example, the School of Education offers professional development courses for K-12 teachers. The School of Education publishes a handbook on Education Professional Development Courses that describes the mission of such courses: to serve the individual needs of school districts; enhance the skills of classroom teachers and administrators; provide educational opportunities for Francis Marion University alumni; and, facilitate lifelong learning experiences that preserve the integrity of academic institutions [2]. Courses are scheduled at the request of local school districts, educational agencies, or consortia, subject to the approval of the school. Taught by Francis Marion faculty contracted by the School of Education, these courses fulfill required continuing education credits for K-12 faculty. Courses are delivered at the school district that requests instruction. The School of Education offered 15 Education Professional Development Courses from Fall 2015 through Summer 2016 [3]. Four Education Professional Development Courses were offered during Summer 2017 [4].

Additionally, the Department of Psychology at Francis Marion University offers continuing education opportunities. Psychologists and social workers in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina and across the state automatically qualify for continuing education credit when they participate in continuing education events sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the Francis Marion University Office of Continuing Education [5]. The Department of Psychology provides a description on their website of nine events from Spring 2012 to Fall 2016 [6-see pages 1 through 5].

Other activities occur as extensions of specific academic programs. For example, the Dooley Planetarium and Dark Sky Observatory are instructional platforms used in astronomy courses and for public education programs [7]. Another example includes the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. The academic wing of the 61,000 square foot facility is used by the Department of Fine Arts for teaching students. Additionally, the facility enriches the lives of culturally and ethnically diverse audiences by offering access to performances and presentations of professional and emerging local, national, and international groups [8].

Community Service and Community Needs

A second category of activity revolves around specialized entities that exist primarily to serve community needs. One example is the Non-Profit Leadership Institute, which provides leadership training in order to strengthen nonprofit organizations. The institute hosts an annual leadership development program that is open to the community and which features guest instructors and speakers from across South Carolina universities, government agencies, and other non-profit organizations. From Spring 2016 through Fall 2017, the Non-Profit Leadership Institute provided 10 different programs, which examined case studies and emphasized a variety of issues, for example, program development and delivery for non-profit organizations, financial resource management, accountability and assessment, and public policy [9].

The University is also home to The Center of Excellence to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty—an initiative to increase the achievement of children of poverty by improving the quality of undergraduate teacher preparation, graduate teacher preparation, and the professional development of in-service teachers. The Center of Excellence hosts an annual two-day event each summer designed to provide participants with practical, research-based information that focuses on the needs and abilities of under-resourced learners [10].

The University has operated the Gail and Terry Richardson Center for the Child on the Francis Marion University campus since 2008. The Center for the Child exists to improve the condition and educational and economic potential of children in the state” by “serving as a regional and state model for the dissemination of best practices in early childhood education, evaluation, and intervention” [11]. Professionals at The Center for the Child work closely with various academic departments to develop a training facility and site for research and community services [12].

Any resource, however, depends upon adequate publicity to generate awareness. To that end, the Francis Marion University Media Center, with approval from the Office of University Communications, manages and contributes to the programming for Channel 11, which is a government access television station operated in partnership with Time Warner Cable [13]. While the City of Florence owns the channel, Francis Marion University provides the main content and houses the channel’s production and operational facilities. The University also maintains official social media accounts on popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Departmental and Ad Hoc Faculty Outreach

A third type of outreach and service activity is more ad hoc in nature. The Public Affairs Office at Francis Marion sustains this mission institutionally. As their mission states, “the office strives to maintain positive town and gown relations and works with the corporate community, local chambers of commerce, civic organizations, and state and local government agencies on projects designed for the betterment of the university and the region it serves. The office plans and coordinates special events designed to increase the visibility of the university” [14]. Such ad hoc programs are coordinated either by the Public Affairs Office or the academic departments that sponsor them.

Individual departments oversee some of these programs. Academic departments sponsor conferences at Francis Marion University that bring state and national experts to campus. For example, the “Enhanced Nursing Education for Patients Living with Developmental Disabilities” conference was funded by a grant from the South Carolina Departmental Disabilities Council [15].

Additionally, Francis Marion University hosts festivals that raise awareness of local and international traditions. The Arts International Festival has been held for the past two years in downtown Florence and at the site of the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. The festival brings together local artisans and members of the local international community for cultural displays, performances, food tastings, and family activities [16]. The University also hosts the annual Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, which brings nationally known and best-selling authors and poets to campus for a multi-day festival of readings, author receptions, and panel discussions that are free and open to the public [17].

Other outreach examples are explicitly collaborative in nature and overseen directly by the Public Affairs Office. For example, the October 26, 2010, public debate held on Francis Marion University’s campus between gubernatorial candidates Vincent Sheheen (D) and Nikki Haley (R) brought Democrats and Republicans to the campus, filling the Chapman Auditorium. This collaborative event was sponsored by the University, Coastal Carolina University, WBTW-News 13, and the Morning News, as seen in an article on the Francis Marion website [18].

Finally, the 200 members of the Francis Marion University faculty help personalize the concept of service through an extensive array of interactions with the community. Individual professors from across all academic units share freely of their expertise with civic groups, schools, and the media when called upon to do so. Recent examples of these interactions are frequently documented in the alumni magazine, The ViewFor example, the Winter 2016 issue documents Professor of English and published author Lynn Kostoff sharing lessons on first drafts and advice on writing [19].

Additionally, professors contribute to the community by discussing current events. Assistant Professor of Political Science, Dr. William Daniel, delivered a talk on the causes and consequence of Brexit to the Florence Rotary Club, which was covered by SCNow.com [20].


  1. Catalog 2016-2017, Purpose – Mission Statement, p. 9
  2. Education Professional Development Courses Handbook, Mission
  3. Course Offerings in Education Professional Development, Fall 2015-Summer 2016
  4. Course Offerings in Education Professional Development, Summer 2017
  5. Continuing Education in the Department of Psychology
  6. Past Continuing Education Events in the Department of Psychology
  7. Dooley Planetarium and Observatory
  8. Performing Arts Center
  9. Non-Profit Leadership Institute
  10. Center of Excellence
  11. Center for the Child
  12. Center for the Child, Position Description
  13. FMU TV, Time Warner Cable Channel 11
  14. Public Affairs Office
  15. South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council 2016-2017, Grant Summaries, p. 7
  16. Arts International Festival
  17. Pee Dee Fiction & Poetry Festival
  18. Gubernatorial Debate at FMU
  19. The View Magazine, Winter 2015, p. 14-15
  20. SCNOW, Florence Rotarians Get the Latest on BREXIT from FMU Professor