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B-CU Grows With New Dorm

(By Deborah Circelli, Staff Writer)

DAYTONA BEACH -- The sounds of construction will greet Bethune-Cookman University students on the first day of classes Monday, as work continues on the school's first semi coed dorm.

The new Lee Rhyant Residential Life Center is slated to open at the end of the month, ahead of its scheduled February opening and part of a new phase of growth that includes major athletic facilities.

The 270 students who will live in the coed residence are being housed for now in other dorms and scholarship houses on campus, university officials said.

The new dorm at Martin Luther King and George W. Engram boulevards has three floors with suites of two students to a room. Males and females will be separated on different wings, but will congregate in common areas.

The city plans to grant a temporary certificate of occupancy by Friday, Daytona Beach city officials said, for the first and second floors while minor work continues on the third floor.

The life center, an approximately $7 million project named after Rhyant, an alumni and vice president of the board of trustees, will also include a cafe with full kitchen, computer labs and two classrooms with enhanced computer technology.

"It's bringing Bethune-Cookman into the 21st century," Bethune-Cookman President Trudie Kibbe Reed said

Fundraisers and alumni donations helped pay for the building. Rhyant, executive vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's facility in Marietta, Ga., also contributed an undisclosed amount, Reed said.

One of the goals of the dorm, she said, is to bring upperclassmen who have been living out in the city back to campus. About 36 freshmen with high academic performance will also live in the dorm.

"We're pulling students back on campus for the living-learning experience," Reed said.

About 1,200 freshman students currently live on campus and there is room for more than 1,700 students.

Dwaun Warmack, Bethune-Cookman's new vice president of student affairs, said there is a movement in higher education to provide students with a "holistic development" so they can mature "personally, socially and spiritually." He said he'd like to create the same living and learning environment at all the residential facilities on campus.

Darold Ingram, 21, a senior and Student Government Association president, plans to move into the new dorm after living in apartments the past two years. He said it will be more convenient to get to labs and classes and he wants to be more accessible to students.

"It will give me more time to roam the campus and introduce the new students to things going on and dialogue about their student issues and concerns," Ingram said.


Land-clearing and site work has also started on the Larry R. Handfield, Esquire, Athletic Training Center, named after analumnus, attorney and chairman of the board of trustees. The center is scheduled to open next July on International Speedway Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue in time for the fall football season.

The more than 17,000-square-foot center, which will include renovating an existing building, will have 104 lockers forfemales, 74 for males and bath facilities, and a Hall of Fame in the lobby/hallway area displaying historic artifacts and stories on athletes. There will also be offices for staff, a hydrotherapy area, a strength and conditioning gym and study space for students to get tutoring and other services. The cost is about $4 million, of which, Reed said, Handfield contributed $1 million.

Lynn Thompson, Bethune-Cookman's athletic director, said the new athletic training center partly came about from a review 10 years ago by NCAA officials calling for improvements and expansion of its sports facilities.

College officials and board of trustee members also previously had a vision for the new center, he said. To attract "high quality athletes" from across the country and around the world, Thompson said high quality facilities were needed.

"We've been working toward it and now it's about to become a reality," Thompson said.

Across the street on International Speedway Boulevard, renovations could begin in October on the west side of the Center for Civic Engagement building where athletic department offices are located, Thompson said. There will also be lockers there, a cardiovascular conditioning center, hydrotherapy and treatment and a weight and conditioning hall in addition to classrooms.

Thompson said the 17 sports teams totaling about 300 students will use both facilities instead of being spread out across campus. The new facilities will allow athletes to train and receive treatment during the course of a regular day while also getting academics, Thompson said.

"We will have the facilities we need to make sure all our student athletes and teams are training properly," Thompson said.

Bethune-Cookman officials hope to get approval from the Midtown Redevelopment Area Board for a practice field in the future next to the center that could also be used for activities for youth in the community, Reed said. The board and some neighbors had concerns about the field.

Reprinted with permission of the Daytona Beach News-Journal © 2010

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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