On Friday, Claflin University opened a three-story, $30 million student center.
Plans call for the center to include a theater, performing arts center, 800-seat ballroom, esports center, meeting/conference rooms and a food court with nationally branded restaurants.
“It’s just not for our campus. It will serve as a lounge and central gathering space for faculty, staff, students and community members,” said Claflin President Dr. Dwaun Warmack.
The university hopes to open the 85,000 square foot center by June 2023. It will be located at the corner of Magnolia Street and Goff Avenue.
Zakarrius Hayes, a criminal justice major, is excited about the development of the student center. He said Warmack was doing a good job of raising the university
“I feel really good about it. I will be graduating in May, but I hope to have the chance to return to Orangeburg to be able to see this beautiful building. I’m so happy that we have something that we can actually grow with our students and the Orangeburg community,” the 23-year-old said.
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Warmack said, “Students spend 18-22% of their time inside the classroom at college. This therefore means that 80% of their time is outside the classroom. If living and learning doesn’t happen outside the classroom, we’re missing the boat. This center will allow us to ensure that learning continues on our campus.
Claflin’s vice president for tax affairs, Tijuana Hudson, said the center will also be a place where student services will be consolidated into one location, including the “mailroom, print shop, bookstore, and all other areas of student services, such as career services, that focus on student success.
“The state-of-the-art facility will bring expanded amenities and services to the community, and it will continue to build on previous investments in Orangeburg. We are thrilled with what today means for Claflin and the Orangeburg community as we continue our quest for upliftment and transformation,” said Hudson.
Wells Fargo, the Innovate Fund, the South Carolina Community Loan Fund and PNC Bank were the four financial institutions involved in financing the project, she said.
Warmack said, “My goal is for us to burn every mortgage when we cut the ribbon when we move here in June 2023. So we’re going to raise $30 million to pay for this building.”
He thanked members of the Orangeburg City and County Council, as well as members of the University’s Board of Trustees, for their support in making the student center project possible.
“This is just the beginning. We are looking for many more partnerships to come,” the president said.
Hudson said the community could use the student center in many ways, including as a job training site.
“It’s about improving people who live within the community, where they are able to build themselves, get better jobs and be able to improve their living conditions,” he said. she declared.
Claflin Chairman of the Board, James K. Lehman, said, “We are looking to the future as we construct this building. This building will shape generations of students to come, and we hope it will have such a significant impact on the Orangeburg community as not just a gateway to Claflin, but a gateway to Orangeburg and the community and activities in Orangeburg. ”
Orangeburg City Administrator Sidney Evering said, “We are beyond thrilled. As Dr. Warmack said, it just doesn’t impact Claflin. I have an impact on the whole community. We are all in the same boat. So what’s good for Claflin is good for South Carolina State (university), it’s good for OCtech, it’s good for Orangeburg and vice versa.
“So we all have to work together to keep Orangeburg moving forward. It’s just a big step in that direction, and we all hope to take similar steps together,” Evering said.
Warmack said, “I’m extremely excited. God is faithful. We do not take for granted the favor God has had. During this time, we have a lot of colleges, universities, and businesses closing, a lot of people furloughed and laid off, but we’re still in growth mode.
“God has been faithful to this institution during this time. So we want to be good shepherds over what we have, and we have a responsibility to be able to do that for our community and for our students.
MCA Architecture Inc., based in Greenville, is the architect of the project. MB Kahn Construction Co., Inc., based in Colombia, is the general contractor.
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