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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Clemson University

Feb 05, 2024 09:39AM ● By Donna Walker

Trustees Approve New Clemson University Center for Human-AI Interaction, Collaboration, and Teaming and Additional Funding for College of Veterinary Medicine 

The 2024 Winter Quarterly Meeting of the Clemson Board of Trustees was held Feb. 1-2 in Charleston, South Carolina, and board approvals were granted for the formation of a new Clemson University Center for Human-AI Interaction, Collaboration, and Teaming, two program modifications and key facility project authorizations, leases and improvements.  


During committee meetings over two days and a full board meeting on Friday, Feb. 2, the board received updates from Clemson President James P. Clements and senior university leadership about ongoing research, education, student support, fundraising and statewide outreach.


Updates and presentations centered around the university’s strategic plan — Clemson Elevate.


The board received construction updates on two major main campus projects, the Alumni and Visitors Center and the Advanced Materials Innovation Complex and gained a status update on the Tillman Auditorium’s renovation.  


New Academic Center  
The university’s Board of Trustees approved a new Clemson University Center for Human-AI Interaction, Collaboration, and Teaming (CU-CHAI), which is projected to be self-supporting by its second year as part of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.


The Center’s focus will be the exploration of how humans and AI can coexist and collaborate, provide interdisciplinary research in real-world settings and address growing concerns over workforce replacement and negative societal impacts.  


Degree Changes 
Clemson University’s Board of Trustees approved the following two changes: 


* A major within the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, the Master of Science in Management, was changed to the  Master of Science in Sports Operations and Analytics. The relaunched degree will serve the growing student demand in sports-related careers in a field that enjoys a strong market for its graduates.  


* A major within the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, the Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering, was changed to the  Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. The change is consistent with peer institutions and changes within industry and better reflects the scope of the university’s curriculum. 


Facility Project Authorizations, Leases and Improvements 

For the College of Veterinary Medicine, the board approved the following requests: 


* Clemson Public Service and Agriculture (PSA) Phase 1 budget: $232,000 for design work for the PSA Animal Farms. 


* Clemson PSA Phase 2 budget: $15,466,000 to construct the PSA Animal Farms. 


* Clemson University Phase 1 budget: $10,000,000 for design work for the Education & General (E&G) portion of the College of Veterinary Medicine Project. 


* Clemson University Phase 2 budget: $95,000,000 to complete design work for the E&G portion of the College of Veterinary Medicine Project, begin initial site work and to award early release packages for long lead time items such as HVAC equipment, electrical transformers and switchgear, and structural systems for the E&G facility project. 


The board approved the university’s entering a new seven-year lease at Clemson Centre to begin July 2024. Adjacent to the main campus, the lease supports the university’s initiative to move administrative functions to the periphery of campus to open spaces on main campus for student-facing initiatives. 


Also, the board approved Phase 1 and Phase 2 construction capital projects of the following projects with budgets less than $5 million: 


* The $4.2 million Kite Hill Parking project, initiated in March 2024, with a projected completion date of August 2024, will create parking and transit improvements, adding approximately 430 parking spaces, an easier connection from an outer area of campus and a connection to the newly installed multi-modal path.


* The $4.9 million Research Infrastructure renovation project, initiated in May 2024, with a projected completion date of November 2024, will improve utilities on the southeast side of campus to upgrade existing infrastructure and increase capacity for future development growth. In addition to replacing the aging and deteriorating steam piping system to Godley-Snell, the project will create capacity to service approximately 200,000 sq. ft. of anticipated new construction on the southeast side of campus. 

Dream Finders Homes Acquires the Assets of Crescent Homes

Dream Finders Homes, Inc. (NYSE: DFH) said it has acquired the core homebuilding assets of privately held homebuilder, Crescent Ventures, LLC.


Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Officials said the acquisition will enhance Dream Finders’ geographic footprint and allow the company to expand into the markets of Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee.


Assets acquired include 457 homesites in varying stages of construction, a sales order backlog of approximately 460 homes with a value in excess of $265 million, and approximately 6,200 lots under control.


Patrick Zalupski, Dream Finders’ chairman and CEO, said, “We are excited about this acquisition and our partnership with Crescent’s founder and CEO, Ted Terry, and the Crescent Homes team. We are impressed by Ted’s vision and his ability to deliver high-quality homes with exemplary craftsmanship over the past 15 years, growing from their headquarters in Charleston to the equally desirable housing markets of Greenville and Nashville.”


Zalupski added, “Our access to capital and efficient operations will enable Crescent to grow faster and achieve significant scale in each market. This transaction enhances our geographic reach and strategically diversifies our operations into three new metropolitan areas.”


Said Terry: “With Dream Finders’ access to the public capital markets, diverse operational expertise, and history of successful homebuilder integration, we are confident that we will be able to achieve superior operational performance and take the company to new heights.”


Crescent Homes was founded in 2009 by Terry and builds single-family homes in the South Carolina markets of Charleston and Greenville, and in Nashville, Tennessee.


Since inception, Crescent has closed approximately 5,000 homes. Crescent serves entry-level, as well as first and second-time move-up homebuyers with price points starting in the low-$300,000s, and has over 25 active selling communities.


DFH said it funded the transaction with cash on hand and borrowings under its existing senior unsecured revolving credit facility.


Simultaneously with the acquisition closing, DFH paid off Crescent’s vertical lines of credit associated with the assets acquired.

Oconee Federal Completes Acquisition of Mutual Savings Bank

Oconee Federal Financial Corp. (OTC: OFED), the holding company for Oconee Federal Savings and Loan Association (“Oconee Federal”), and the majority-owned subsidiary of Oconee Federal, MHC, has completed its acquisition of Mutual Savings Bank.


Mutual’s office has become a branch office of Oconee Federal.


As part of the transaction, OFED has issued 230,215 shares of its common stock to the MHC, or $3.2 million, which is equal to the fair value of Mutual as determined by a third-party appraisal.


The transaction has increased OFED’s consolidated assets to approximately $660 million.


Furthermore, the transaction was immediately accretive to OFED’s earnings and is expected to be going forward, and immediately accretive to OFED’s tangible book value per share.


Officials said Oconee Federal’s capital ratios continue to exceed “well capitalized” regulatory standards.


Oconee Federal has established an advisory board and offered membership on it to the current directors of Mutual.


Officials said Oconee Federal will also support the Hartsville, South Carolina, community through charitable grants from the Oconee Federal Foundation based on recommendations of the advisory board.


Curtis Evatt, president and chief executive officer of Oconee Federal, said, “We are pleased to announce the completion of our merger with Mutual Savings Bank. Each institution has worked diligently to prepare for the integration of our two companies, and we welcome Mutual’s customers to the combined company.”


Thomas Goodson, former chairman of the board of Mutual, said, “The merger will enable us to provide customers with a larger suite of products and service capabilities while we continue to support our community.”


Luse Gorman, PC, Washington, D.C., acted as legal counsel to Oconee Federal and Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP acted as legal counsel to Mutual.


Capital Resources Group, Inc. served as financial advisor to Oconee Federal.


Oconee Federal, MHC is a federally-chartered mutual holding company formed to be the mutual holding company of Oconee Federal Financial Corp.

The 2024 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Where U.S. Presidents Made History List Is Announced

Historic Hotels of America, an official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced The 2024 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Where U.S. Presidents Made History List.


Officials said the 25 historic hotels included on the list illustrate the many ways presidents of the United States of America worked, entertained, relaxed with their families, and made history at historic hotels that are open to the public today.


Several historic hotels on this list are sites of international historical significance, such as the hotel where Harry S. Truman signed the United Nations Charter in 1945, and the resort where James Buchanan received the inaugural Transatlantic telegram (from Queen Victoria) in 1858.


One historic inn hosted John Adams after signing the Treaty of Paris. Others served as a “Summer White House” or “Western White House,” places where presidents visited often and for extended periods.


The hotels are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and eight are designated as National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.


The 25 hotels offer their contemporary guests many of the same experiences that American presidents enjoyed while staying at these hotels.


Travelers can visit the historic hotels on this list to reserve a president’s favorite suite or room, play on presidents’ favorite golf courses, dine where presidents enjoyed a meal, swim in the mineral springs where presidents relaxed, and learn more about the cities and towns these presidents stopped in while on the campaign trail.


The list includes John Rutledge House Inn (1763) Charleston, South Carolina.


The historic John Rutledge House Inn in Charleston, South Carolina, dates to 1763, the start of an era when dissatisfaction and tension grew between England and its colonies in North America.


In its early decades, the historic inn was the private home of John Rutledge, a prominent jurist and politician who was instrumental in guiding South Carolina through the American Revolution. Rutledge organized protests against England’s efforts to tax the colonies in the wake of the Seven Years’ War and served as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress.


After the American Revolutionary War and the failure of the Articles of Confederation, Rutledge helped frame the new U.S. Constitution. A vigorous proponent of a strong centralized government, Rutledge was one of the more vocal delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.


Though Rutledge never served as president, he was an acquaintance and a political ally of both George Washington and John Adams.


The John Rutledge House Inn has the distinct honor of being one of the few surviving historic hotels that hosted President Washington while he was in office.


During a tour of the new nation, Washington visited Charleston in 1791 and, although he was often careful to avoid staying in private homes lest he be accused of favoritism, he did visit the Rutledge family home and stayed for breakfast.


The second notable presidential visit occurred in the 1920s, when President William Taft — after serving in office — visited his friend, Mayor Robert Goodwyn Rhett.

Charleston’s mayor lived at the John Rutledge House Inn and hosted Taft for dinner.


This visit is very well-known in the city, in part because it inspired one of Charleston’s classic recipes. Before Taft arrived, Mayor Rhett asked Chef William Deas, butler at the grand house, to “dress up” their typical crab soup.


Deas’s presidential variation of the soup featured orange crab eggs, giving the dish a bright color and unique taste — and its name, She-Crab Soup. Guests of the Inn today can enjoy She-Crab Soup just like Taft.


Designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the John Rutledge House Inn is a Charter Member of Historic Hotels of America, founded in 1989.

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