Coker to Launch Capital Campaign at Groundbreaking

Coker to Launch Capital Campaign at Groundbreaking

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College will launch the most ambitious capital campaign in the institution’s century-long history with a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of a new multi-purpose athletics center.

A public groundbreaking ceremony and reception across the street from the construction site, at the parking lot on Coker Avenue (between East Carolina Avenue and Byerly Avenue), will be held at 10:30 a.m. April 25.

Through the Redefining Excellence campaign, the College is building up to six new residential facilities (it broke ground on the first one Jan. 25) and an athletics facility.  The total project cost will likely approach $30 million, of which $12 million will be raised through direct philanthropic support.

The campaign emerges from the College’s five-year strategic plan, Redefining Ready.  Released last year, the plan is intended to guide the college through a period of unprecedented growth and renew the institution’s commitment to offering a transformative, liberal-arts-centered education that prepares students for success in their chosen careers.

“Addressing every component of a student’s experience at Coker, Redefining Ready commits us to truly serving our students by providing them with the skills and understandings they will need to thrive in today’s world and to become effective leaders in their communities, their careers and our nation,” said Coker College President Robert Wyatt.  “Coker’s graduates must be able to stand confidently with the best.”

The new athletics facility and residential complex has been preceded by a number of initiatives called for in the strategic plan including four straight years of enrollment growth, a 20 percent increase in size of its faculty, the establishment of the Wiggins School of Education, a graduate program in sports management and increased commitments to its wellness programs, NCAA Division II athletics and, recently, by its decision to join the South Atlantic Conference at the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

“As Chair of the Coker College Board of Trustees, I am enormously grateful for the drive and determination of the many individuals who have sacrificed to bring us to this day,” said Howard Coker, Sonoco vice president of rigid paper and closures group.  “I know that it is this kind of teamwork that builds strong companies and strong cities.  With this project, we have a unique opportunity to support the needs of students – athletes and non-athletes – by creating a facility worthy of the excellence to which we all aspire.”

Designed by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, with construction management services provided by Choate Construction, the 71,000 square-foot facility will have a main gymnasium with a seating capacity of 1,832 and wide-ranging features including a practice gym, classroom space, state-of-the-art training rooms, offices, a conference room and a café.

Capping the day-long campus celebration of the campaign launch, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Woodwind and Brass Quintets will perform a free public concert featuring a repertoire that spans from Renaissance music to modern music at 7:30 p.m. April 25 in Watson Theater.

For information about Coker College, visit


Coker College
Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.  For more information, visit

McMillan‚ Pazdan‚ Smith Architecture
McMillan Pazdan Smith is a studio-based, regional architecture, interior design and planning firm established in 1955.  Serving health care, education, community and corporate clients, the firm has offices in Asheville, N.C., Atlanta, Ga. and Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C.  For more information, visit

Choate Construction Co.
Choate Construction Company is one of the largest commercial building general contractors in the southeastern United States with offices in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; and Savannah and Atlanta, Ga. Founded in 1989, Choate provides preconstruction, general contracting, construction management, design-build services, and LEED construction/consulting services with the singular focus of delivering the highest quality finished product on time and within budget. Areas of specialty include   educational facilities and student housing; office and data; retail and mixed-use; healthcare and biomedical; industrial distribution and manufacturing; governmental buildings; multi-family; senior living; automotive; and sports/recreational facilities. For more information, visit