PENDLETON --- Tri-County Technical College broke ground September 16 on a 75,000-square-foot Student Success Center, the first new building on the Pendleton Campus in two decades.

"This is a milestone day in the history of our College," said President Ronnie L. Booth to a crowd of county officials, legislators, community partners, faculty, staff and students who crowded Fulp Plaza to witness this long-awaited day.

The $42 million project will include a new building that houses a learning commons, library collections; meeting spaces; computer labs; study areas; supplemental instruction and tutoring spaces; Student Development Offices; Information Technology Services; College Store; Café, Printing Services; and shipping and receiving.

The project also includes a complete renovation of Ruby Hicks Hall, and the installation of a central chiller plant and chilled water loop.

The Student Success Center is a key component of Tri-County Technical College's strategy to increase student success, reduce long-term maintenance costs and address double-digit enrollment growth.  "Student support facilities were built 25 or more years ago and are designed to accommodate about 3,500 students.  The College now serves around 5,000 students at the Pendleton Campus.  Currently students sit in the halls to study and are cramped into nooks and crannies all over campus. Our current café is woefully inadequate to meet students' needs. There is very little place for them to work on team projects and study together. This Center will increase space allocated to students and their academic support.  I am so pleased this day is here," he said.

"As we expect our students to develop 21st-century workplace skills, like teamwork, collaboration, communication and social skills, we need to provide spaces where they can hone these skills outside the classroom," said Dr. Booth.  "It is essential for students today to learn how to work in groups and teams to problem solve in today's workforce.  The Student Success Center is important to achieve our mission and fundamental to delivering a transformative student experience and an investment in our students' success." 

Senator Lindsey Graham told the crowd of several hundred people that this project is a big commitment with the biggest benefactor being the students. "Tri-County is so relevant today --  that's why you are growing.  But we must find our niche in a changing economy."  He said in the next 50 years, our future competitors won't be China and India - the competition will be between man and machine. "Your challenge is to design curricula around the human touch.  No machine will hold someone's hand in hospice care.  There will never be a substitute for the human touch."

Student Government Association President Briana White said she is excited about the Center that "will create a sense of community and belonging for students."

Members of county councils and legislative delegations also expressed their support for the Center.

          Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn said, "Our community's future is in the hands of Tri-County.  The Student Success Center will play an important role in preparing students for the challenges that lie ahead." 

 "I have respect for what I consider to be the best technical college in SC," said Paul Cain, chairman of the Oconee County Council.  "It is easy for council to invest in the future of this College. Your leadership listens to students and industry and provides us with a great reason to fund this great center for student success. Oconee County is proud to support the College and the Student Success Center in every way."

Rep. Gary Clary, Pickens County delegation member, called the Student Success Center "a game changer that in 50 years will be a signal day for the College, the region and the state.  I'm proud to be part of state government and a part of the decision making for this center."

"Each one of you knows someone who will need this facility," said Rep. Brian White.

Site prep for the construction got under way this summer, which required the removal of the amphitheater and Clarke and McKissick halls. The Student Success Center is set to open January 2018.

The Ruby Hicks renovation will begin in 2018 and will take about a year to complete. It will include a One Stop Center designed to improve efficiencies and customer service by allowing for co-location of admissions, advising, registration, financial aid, cashier and other enrollment services.

Construction of the new building is expected to take 18 months. The entire project, including the renovation of Hicks Hall, will take two and one-half years.

The architectural firm for the project is LS3P Associates, LTD, Greenville, SC, and the construction firm is Juneau Construction Company, LLC, Atlanta, GA.