***This article appeared in the October 31st edition of the Spartanburg Herald Journal and was written by Craig Peters***
Honking and rumbling, a dump truck delivered Converse College President Betsy Fleming and Student Body President Kaitlyn Price to the Friday night ground breaking for apartment-style senior class housing.
Moments before arriving to a crowd of students, alumnae and donors, Price and Fleming were fitted with hard hats by Chris McGarr of the Harper Corp. and discussed exit strategies with Strange Brothers Grading Co. driver Chip Brown.
“This is a hard hat area; we can’t be dainty,” said Price, an English and psychology major from Moultrie, Ga.
Price and Fleming separately jumped from the truck’s cab, stuck their landings and kept their hard hats on at the site of the college’s first residential construction project since 1969.
“It was wonderful — definitely the first time,” Price said of the dump truck ride. “It added to my well-rounded educational experience.”
Price, Fleming and Board of Trustees Chair Billy Webster thanked donors who raised more than $12.7 million for the project between June and Sept. 15, and said the apartment-style housing will be enjoyed by future senior classes.
The project, which Fleming called “stunning,” is scheduled to be complete in winter 2011.
Each class presented symbolic gifts. The freshmen gave a red hammer to Fleming so she can “hammer out all the kinks;” sophomores gave juniors, the first class who will live in the building, a welcome mat; juniors gave Fleming a large alarm clock to keep the project on time; and the seniors gave a bottle of champagne to put on ice, accompanied by a request to use the site’s proposed pavilion for the class’s first-year reunion.
Fleming said the apartment-style housing will be the “first step in an update of progressive living experiences on campus.”
She said it will add to the preparation of personal and professional success because it will foster a “responsible independence.”