CLEMSON, SC The grand opening of Freeman Hall’s $10-million addition was hailed Thursday not as the end of construction project but as the birth of a new era for Clemson University as it journeys toward preeminence.
The three-story addition along Fernow Street is among the first major projects to be completed since a building boom on and near campus has sent battalions of work trucks streaming into Clemson on a daily basis.
At 21,000 square feet, the Freeman Hall addition gives the Department of Industrial Engineering room to grow at a time of explosive growth. Enrollment rose more than 161 percent in 10 years, landing at 546 students as of 2014.
The addition is opening as international markets grow at a rapid clip, creating tremendous business opportunities for corporations worldwide, including in the United States. The growth is increasing the need for industrial engineers who understand the unique challenges specific to each nation.
Never miss a local story.
Clemson officials expect the addition to enhance research capabilities, while helping create the next generation of industrial engineering leaders. Top students and faculty members from around the world will be attracted to the new offices, collaboration spaces, conference rooms and state-of-the-art auditorium, university officials said.
Innovative financing minimizes the impact of construction costs on taxpayers. The university is putting up the money for the addition, and the industrial engineering department has begun to pay it back with proceeds from an online master’s program that reaches students from South Carolina to India.
“The entire Clemson family can take pride in Freeman Hall and the other world-class facilities that are part of our capital improvement plan,” Clemson President Jim Clements said. “These facilities are helping us attract top students, faculty and staff from around the globe.
“The improvements we’re making at Freeman Hall and across campus position us to better meet the future needs of industry. Clemson students are graduating with a highly relevant skillset, and the research we are producing is being translated into real-world innovation.”
The online program allows students to pursue a Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering with an emphasis on supply chain and logistics. Clemson faculty members, led by William Ferrell, are working to expand the program with information specific to international markets, such as those found in India.
Fluor Corporation has been a strong supporter of the fast-growing program.
“Supply chain and logistics are an integral component of the successful execution of global capital projects,” Fluor Chairman and CEO David T. Seaton said. “That’s critically important not only for Fluor, but the entire engineering and construction industry. The expansion of Freeman Hall and the supply chain and logistics program help take our efforts to the next level.”
The online master’s program is geared toward professionals who would like to further their education with an advanced degree while continuing to work. More than 100 students have graduated, and about 150 from around the world are currently enrolled.
More than 70 companies have sent students to the program since it launched in 2008.
The addition includes 15 faculty offices, two large student spaces, three conference rooms, four offices for administration and an auditorium with seating for 100. The auditorium also includes four cameras to enable distance learning. The building is LEED certified at the silver level.
“The addition to Freeman Hall helps Clemson provide an educational experience to industrial engineering students that few institutions can match,” said Bob Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.
Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science, said the success of any educational or research enterprise relies on build-to-compete infrastructure, top talent, and great educational experiences.
“This beautiful new home for industrial engineering provides great advantages for all three, and this expansion would not have been possible if not for the coordinated efforts of a number of very special people,” Gramopadhye said.
Cole Smith, chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering, said the grand opening of Freeman Hall represents the beginning of a rare and special opportunity to challenge students and for Clemson to lead industrial engineering research internationally.
“The common areas and collaborative environments in this modern building reflect our dedication to building the Clemson family experience,” Smith said. “We have put the human infrastructure in place. It’s now or never to take Clemson to the next level, and industrial engineering has unanimously declared that the time will be now.”
Freeman Hall sits in the heart of campus and is deeply rooted in university history. Construction began in July 1926 after a fire gutted Mechanical Hall, according to the book “Clemson University College of Engineering--One Hundred Years of Progress.”
The new building originally housed a machine shop, forge, foundry, woodshop, classrooms and offices. It later became home to industrial engineering and was named for the department’s founding head, Edwin J. Freeman, who served until 1958.
Before the addition, the last major renovation to Freeman Hall was in 1965.
Officials put on orange helmets in April 2014 to symbolically break ground for the addition. A few weeks later, crowds gathered to watch an excavator’s claw tear down a two-story section of the old building to make room for the addition.
Renovation would not have been cost-effective for the nearly 90-year-old building, university officials said.
The funding method came about during the Great Recession when university budgets were tight. Gramopadhye, who then was industrial engineering chair, worked out the details with Brett Dalton, Clemson’s vice president for finance and operations.
“It’s unique for an individual program within a university to generate the resources needed to fund the expansion of a facility,” Dalton said. “That makes it all the more exciting to see the Freeman Hall addition be completed.”
The grand opening comes as the result of a long-running collaboration between Clemson and Fluor.
“The Freeman Hall addition is not only a world-class facility for students and faculty, but also an enduring reminder of the mutually beneficial relationship between the university and Fluor,” said Fluor’s Mike Wheeler, senior vice president, global supply chain & logistics.
“Fluor remains committed to the online master’s program for its importance to the engineering and construction industry, as well as for its investment for the future.”
Highlights of the collaboration between Clemson and Fluor include:
▪ The company’s $2 million contribution in 2007 was matched by $2 million from the South Carolina SmartState fund to establish a Center of Economic Excellence. The money included funding for the Fluor Endowed Chair in Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics, which has been held by Scott Mason since its inception.
▪ Fluor contributed $1.5 million in 2013 to create the Fluor-Clemson International Capital Projects Supply Chain Partnership, which is helping expand the online master’s program.
▪ Earlier this year, Ferrell was named the Fluor-Clemson International Capital Supply Chain Partnership Professor in Industrial Engineering. The professorship is designed to support and enhance the industrial engineering department’s partnership with Fluor Corporation, the department’s ongoing teaching and research efforts in supply chain logistics, and the Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering.
“Fluor and Clemson have developed a wonderful relationship over the past seven years,” Ferrell said. “It has been exciting and humbling to be a part of that relationship. This addition will help us further research into international supply chains and create the next generation of leaders for industry.”
Faculty members have moved their offices to the addition. Having them all in the same area is encouraging better communication and collaboration.
Some of their old offices, which now are scattered throughout the old part of Freeman Hall, will be converted to labs.
Freeman Hall also houses Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), which supports females in engineering and science majors. It is also home to Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER), which is a package of programs that serve student groups underrepresented in math, science and engineering.
The general contractor for the addition was M.B. Kahn Construction Co., and the architectural-and-engineering firm was Lord Aeck Sargent.