Sofia Rivas looks across the 84,000-square-foot expanse of Daytona State College’s new student center under construction on its main campus. The former student government president and class of 2018 alumna is filled with a combination of pride and gratitude for having been able to play a part in the design and construction of the $32 million facility slated for completion next spring.
“This is a building where student life will be front and center,” she notes. “It will be inviting to all students to participate in social activities and quiet study if they so choose, and will help foster campus pride. Many student groups participated in brainstorming sessions with the architects, and we are very pleased that they took our ideas into account when designing the building.”
During a May 31 ceremony, DSC named the facility in honor of benefactor and former trustee L. Gale Lemerand, marking a formal recognition of Mr. Lemerand’s longtime support of the college and its students, including a most recent gift of $2 million to the Daytona State College Foundation. The gift brings the total to more than $3 million donated to DSC by the prolific entrepreneur over the years in support of student scholarships and campus growth initiatives, making Mr. Lemerand the college’s most generous living benefactor.
“The entire college community is deeply proud and honored to name this new student center for Mr. Gale Lemerand, whose longtime support of Daytona State already is leaving a legacy that will live on for generations and continue to serve countless students,” said DSC President Tom LoBasso.
The L. Gale Lemerand Student Center will embody a design and function for modern-era higher education that will focus on student engagement. It will facilitate a paradigm shift in teaching and learning for the 21st century, and will become the focal point of the campus, commanding an impressive presence along International Speedway Boulevard. A sweeping three-story coquina stone structure, complete with bronze solar window screens and a 30-foot gateway, will greet visitors. From under a cantilevered east wing, guests and patrons will have views of an outdoor dining area that ties into the campus courtyard and clock tower.
The building will house DSC’s library and writing center. Another section will host Career Services, a one-stop resource for career planning and job placement. In addition to these academic and student support services, the building also will house a study commons, state-of-the-art classrooms, conference rooms and a large events center.
The facility will serve as a hub for the DSC student life experience, a place to gravitate with friends, to relax and socialize, with offices for student clubs, a game room, a cafeteria and a coffee lounge.
“This will be a place where students can interact with their peers, faculty and college staff, and access the resources and guidance they need to stay on track,” noted District Board of Trustees Chair Forough Hosseini. “We know that students who are engaged in college life are more likely to achieve academic success and complete their degrees. This facility is being built with this in mind.”
Trustee Hosseini noted that the generosity of people like Mr. Lemerand helps lawmakers take notice when DSC advocates for state capital funding. “Knowing that our community’s leaders are serious about being partners in education, helping us achieve the kind of excellence in teaching and learning what our students expect, goes a long way in Tallahassee,” she said.
The new student center is but one of the growth initiatives taking place at the 61-year-old institution, which has evolved to become Volusia and Flagler counties’ primary source for higher education and workforce training. Others being implemented or in the pipeline include:
Founded in 1957 as Florida’s first comprehensive junior college, Daytona State today offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs and serves over 26,000 students annually. In addition, the institution is an economic powerhouse. DSC’s service area economy receives nearly $710 million in average annual income due to the activities of the college and its alumni, equaling roughly 6.1 percent of the service area economy.