Kendrick Lyles is active in Midlands Tech’s theater program – as long as he can find a place to rehearse.
“We have a theater space, but a lot of classes use it,” Lyles said. “So, if you get kicked out, then it’s like, ‘I don’t know where to go.’ ”
This semester, the technical college has given Lyles – and the other 5,000 students on its Beltline Boulevard campus – more options for working outside of class by opening a new, $14.5 million learning resource center.
The facility, which took almost two years to complete, is packed with new technology, study space and assistance with everything from tutoring to job hunting.
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College President Ron Rhames sees the 43,000-square-foot facility overlooking Rosewood Drive as the “front door” to the college.
“This will help us attract more students and meet our mission of preparing them for the workforce,” Rhames said.
The facility gives students more options to stay on campus after class, somewhere they can study, read, work together and – in Lyles’ case – read lines for an upcoming performance. It offers distance-learning opportunities for Midlands Tech students on the college’s other campuses or in K-12 programs.
“This building gives our students a lot more access to technology,” said Florence Mays, the college’s library director. “We live in a technological society, so when students are able to access and understand the latest technology, it really puts them at an advantage when they graduate and move into the workplace.”
The new center replaces the school’s former library built in 1967, an outdated facility that was half the size and, Lyles said, “creepy.”
“The old library doesn’t hold a candle to this,” he said.
About 80 percent of the money for the construction came from Richland and Lexington counties, which provide for the school’s infrastructure needs, Rhames said.
A private donation from Bill and Lou Kennedy, the owners of West Columbia’s Nephron Pharmaceuticals, allowed Midlands Tech to include the William Jerry Wood Life Skills Center.
Advisors there will offer help with writing resumes and preparing for job interviews – the next step in the quest to get students prepared to join the workforce.