The View from Sikes

Building Futures

If you’ve been on campus lately, you’ve noticed a lot of construction fences, cranes and re-routed traffic. That’s because Clemson University has embarked on one of the largest campus development projects in at least half a century — maybe in history.

We call it Building Futures — a capital improvement plan to ensure that Clemson can compete at the highest levels and win — whether we’re competing for top students, big grants or athletics championships. This once-in-a-generation physical transformation will move the university forward and cement our place as a top-20, nationally regarded research University.

Building Futures is a strategic plan to look past 2015 or 2020 or even 2025. It is intended to set the stage for Clemson’s next 50 years, just as a surge of construction half a century ago, in the 1960s, positioned Clemson to become what it is today. It’s about building advanced and sustainable facilities to prepare us for whatever comes next — facilities that foster innovative teaching and learning, support advanced research and technology transfer, improve productivity and efficiency, and protect our rich physical and natural assets. It’s also about creating more educational and economic opportunities for South Carolina.

Already underway are major projects that will transform many areas of campus.

This summer, work begins in earnest on the Douthit Hills redevelopment to create a residential village for students that will change a main gateway to the campus — and change the view from the President’s House. Seven residential buildings and a contemporary student hub will rise on 80 acres on the north side of Highway 93, telling students and visitors they’ve arrived at one of the nation’s top schools. The facilities will provide more on-campus housing options for upperclassmen and bring Bridge to Clemson students to campus. A comprehensive tree plan will ultimately increase the number of trees on the site by 30 percent.

With the Core Campus development, the last vestiges of 60-year-old Johnstone Hall — built as temporary housing, mind you — and Harcombe Dining Hall will give way to a complex that includes a residential hall for freshmen that provides convenience, security, utility upgrades, modern dining facilities, a home for the Calhoun Honors College and more amenities. I know many of you have fond memories of Johnstone, but your children probably don’t share that sentiment.

An addition to Freeman Hall will add teaching and office space for industrial engineering that frees up research space, helps accommodate growth in student demand and makes room for fast-growing online master’s programs targeted to non-traditional students working in corporate engineering jobs.

In the center of campus, the digitally dazzling Watt Family Innovation Center will further define the area south of the library as the academic heart of the University. The center will be a hub of intellectual and entrepreneurial activity as it connects students, faculty and leaders from industry and government to generate ideas, solve problems and move new product concepts to the marketplace.

Days after graduation, Littlejohn Coliseum closed for a major renovation that will include reconstruction of seating areas, new practice facilities, locker rooms, meeting rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball teams — a project completely funded by the athletics department and IPTAY.

Less visible but essential to the success of the Building Futures plan is a major overhaul of our electrical infrastructure — components of which date back to the 1950s.

The process won’t always be pretty. But the long-term gains — more and better housing and classrooms for students, capacity to grow research, improved landscapes and a tree stewardship plan that will leave us with more trees than when we started — are worth the temporary inconveniences.

There’s more to come — pending development of business plans and board and state approvals. Stay tuned for updates.

Please pardon our progress. Think of the sound of construction as a tiger’s roar — a sign of strength and greatness.

James P. Clements

President

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