From The Independent Mail (SC)
CLEMSON — Clemson's board of trustees voted Friday to form a new school of education and move forward with the $213 million Douthit Hills retail and residential complex.
The board approved the creation of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education, separating that faculty from its longtime home within the College of Health, Education and Human Development.
The separation will happen immediately. Provost Doris Helms said education faculty members have been working on the "bottom up" transition for months while the proposal worked its way through Clemson's administrative ranks.
A national search will begin shortly to find the school's first dean, who will need several months in place to hammer out all of the details.
"It took Maryland two years, so it will probably be a yearlong process to get it done," Helms said afterward.
Board member Jor Swann cast the sole vote against the move, expressing concerns that the new school is being created without a long-term business plan in place to gauge expenses, demand and the like. Helms said those kinds of operational numbers couldn't be gathered until the new school actually extricated itself from the college.
The board was unanimous, however, in it support for several capital projects, including Douthit Hills. The much discussed and delayed mixed-use project on the east side of the campus would house graduate students, as well as the Bridge to Clemson joint venture with Tri-County Technical College. There would also be retail shops and a university welcome center. The new facility would require extensive infrastructure upgrades on campus, including improved electrical service.
The board also approved the project's financing. Construction is expected to cost $165 million, but fears of cost overruns and inflation led administrators to insert language capping borrowing at an amount "not to exceed" $183 million. The remaining $25 million to $30 million in the cost estimate covers architectural and engineering fees, furniture, equipment and other costs, plus a contingency fee of $2.5 million.
The Douthit Hills proposal now goes back to state officials in Columbia for one last round of approvals before planning and bidding can start. The development could be ready for students in 2015.
The trustees also voted:
to build the Watt Family Innovation Center ($30.3 million) and a graduate education center at Clemson's Restoration Institute in North Charleston ($2.3 million);
to spend $75,000 on planning for a new, $2.5 million powertrain lab for the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville;
to spend $1.3 million for planning and design of new offices and lab space for the College of Business and Behavorial Sciences. The proposed building, which would have 160,000 to 180,000 square feet, could cost up to $55 million.