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After a decade of planning and red tape, S.C. State University (SCSU) has opened its newest building, but it is not on the Orangeburg campus. The university’s Coastal Region Research and Education Center is in Charleston’s Eastside neighborhood at 35 Lee St.

The center is a partnership between the university’s 1890 Research and Extension program and the City of Charleston. The $5.3 million in federal funds to construct the nearly 15,000-square-foot center came through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Built on a small parcel of donated government land, the center includes a food demonstration lab, a computer lab, one classroom, a flexible multipurpose room, a leadership training board room, and offices and workspace. 

During the building’s Dec. 1 opening, SCSU’s president Alexander Conyers said, “I can think of no better place to erect a building and plant our flag so that the community knows that South Carolina State is present; so that the community knows after 125 years South Carolina State University still epitomizes that Bulldog tenacity.”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg noted the city’s role in donating the nearly half-acre plot for the center. “We made you a pretty good deal, Mr. President,” Tecklenburg said, referring to Conyers. “This is land that was donated by the City of Charleston for $1 to S.C. State for this facility to be right here in Charleston.

“As many of you know, my brother Michael was born deaf, and he received his first auditory and speech therapy at S.C. State,” the mayor said. “That was the first time I got to see how this remarkable institution can and does transform lives every day. Which is exactly what this new Research and Education Center is going to do here in Charleston — strengthen our community by transforming lives for the better.”

For about three decades, SCSU has offered 4-H programs and science programs to students at the Sanders-Clyde Elementary and Burke High schools and Charleston Development Academy and other schools in Dorchester, Berkeley and Georgetown counties. Dr. Louis D. Whitesides, SCSU’s vice president, told Charleston City Paper last November that with the new building those programs will continue and others will be added.

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