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Waccamaw Higher Education Center
By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Carolina University’s Waccamaw Higher Education Center will stay in its present location in Litchfield, at least for a little while longer.
The university is finalizing an agreement with the owners of the facility that would allow it to remain at “a significantly reduced” rate after its lease expires in April, said David DeCenzo, university president.
With the agreement, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has been able scheduled classes at the facility through May and the book, computer, French, gardening and investment clubs will continue to meet through May. Beyond that, DeCenzo said, it hasn’t been determined how much longer the university will be able to stay.
“The building is for sale,” DeCenzo said, “but no one wants to see it sitting empty. We’re hoping to work everything so we can maintain our presence in the building and continue to work toward a full resolution.”
After study, the university determined last year it couldn’t afford to continue leasing the facility at the rate it was paying and started looking for donors to purchase the facility and either give or lease it at a reduced rate to the university.
Donors did come forward with offers of up to $100,000, but the total was not enough to purchase the $2.5 million building, said Linda Ketron, director of the lifelong learning institute.
Ketron started looking for alternative facilities to house the institute last summer. She has identified three potential locations, but all would mean a drastic reduction in the number of courses that can be offered. Each of the buildings under consideration are a quarter to one-third the size of the current facility.
Eight classes can be conducted simultaneously at the Litchfield facility, but if the center relocates, it would be limited to two or three, Ketron said.
DeCenzo said he is still hopeful the university will be able to purchase the building with the help of donors.
“There are a lot of different elements to it,” he said. “There are some things the board of trustees and I are looking at.”
One of those is increasing use of the facility to make it more valuable to the university and the community.
“Right now, it’s very single-focused,” he said of the center.
Archaeology and anthropology programs the university is starting may be among the things the center will house in the future.
The university would still love to find a “guardian angel” who would be willing to purchase the Litchfield facility for the university. The building might also present a good investment opportunity, DeCenzo said. If someone bought it and leased it to the university at a very low rate, the university might be able to purchase it in the future.
Donations toward the purchase of the building are greatly appreciated, he added. Call the higher education center at 349-4032.