Charleston Southern University has opened a new $7.4 million building at the heart of its campus aimed at producing Christian leaders for tomorrow’s marketplace and to equip the school to host larger-scale events.

The Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership provides the private Christian school in North Charleston with a new 300-seat high-tech conference center, lecture halls, classrooms, research center and faculty offices.

That will allow CSU to host conferences that draw more than 2,000 people by using its 1,500-seat chapel and videostreaming capabilities to other campus space, the new leadership center and the Wingate by Wyndham in Charleston hotel, which is adjacent to the campus.

“It’s going to be a big deal not only for CSU but for the Lord,” CSU President Jairy C. Hunter Jr. said.

At the building’s dedication Wednesday, Hunter called the opening, a decade in the making, “one of the most significant events in the life of the school.”

The 26,500-square-foot facility also houses three institutes aimed at producing future Christian leaders: the Biblical Worldview Institute, Faith Integration Institute and Marketplace Institute.

“We want young men and women to know what they believe,” said Doug Hunter, the leadership center’s executive director, “and then strategically apply it.”

The center is named in honor of Shirley and Floyd Whitfield, a longtime trustee, who donated about $3 million to the project, the single biggest gift in the university’s history. The Whitfield Stadium Center, home to Buccaneer football and other sports programs, also is named for the Whitfields who helped to fund the stadium. They also fund 50 scholarships each year worth $1,000 each.

“This represents more than a building about Christian leadership,” said CSU Board Chairman Timothy Spurling. He reminded those on hand of the biblical Great Commandment.

“We’re making disciples,” Spurling added.

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