When College of Charleston students return Tuesday, some of them will take classes about a mile from the downtown campus in newly leased space at Harbor Walk, on the Cooper River.
School leaders said they leased the 41,000-square-foot property, with striking waterfront views, to use as "swing space" while it renovates the Rita Liddy Hollings Science Center and the Simons Center for the Arts. It also will house its computer science programs there indefinitely.
The college leased the space from R.E.R. Investments Limited Co. The seven-year lease for the property next to the South Carolina Aquarium will cost about $10 million.
The college also has space for classes at its new North Campus and Lowcountry Graduate Center, just off I-526 at 3800 Paramount Drive in North Charleston. The new 50,000-square-foot building includes nine classrooms with two-way videoconferencing capabilities, along with a library, study rooms, a student services center, a tutoring center and a student lounge. About 300 free parking spaces serve the facility.
Mike Auerbach, dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics, said about 3,600 students will take at least one class each year at Harbor Walk. And the college has put in place strategies to efficiently shuffle students between the new location and the main campus. "I think the students will acclimate quickly," he said.
First, he said, classes at Harbor Walk have been scheduled in a way that gives students 40 minutes to make it there from the main campus.
The school also has worked with CARTA to run free shuttles more frequently between the two locations and it has expanded its bike-sharing program, Auerbach said. It also has worked with the bicycle advocacy group Charleston Moves to provide maps and encourage students to bike on Chapel or John streets, where there are bike lanes, instead of Calhoun Street.
Chris Starr, chairman of the school's computer science department, said the more modern buildings at Harbor Walk will serve the students well in his rapidly growing department. "It's a little more corporate looking and start-up oriented," he said.
The new location has classrooms, offices, computer labs and places where students can gather to study or work on computer projects. And it has room for the program to grow.
That's important, Starr said, because the number of undergraduate computer science majors has been growing by 10 percent to 16 percent per year for the last several years. Now there are about 375 computer science majors, he said. The college ultimately wants to enroll 500 computer science majors.
Students are attracted to the program because it offers education and training in traditional computer science as well as courses in specialty areas such as computing in the arts and creating apps, Starr said.
And there's a demand for graduates, he said. "You can get a job, and it pays really well. You make more than the faculty when you leave here."
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story contained an error. John Rivers no longer owns R.E.R. Investments Limited Co.
Associate professor Christopher Starr, College of Charleston computer science department chairman, talks about work going on in the department and its new home. The college is moving the department and some of its science classrooms and offices to Harbor Walk, near the SC Aquarium (at right). While the computer science department likely will make Harbor Walk its permanent home, the science classrooms will be there temporarily, while the Rita Lidy Hollings Science Center is being renovated.×
The College of Charleston is moving its computer science department and some of its science classrooms and offices to Harbor Walk, near the SC Aquarium (at right). While the computer science department likely will make Harbor Walk its permanent home, the science classrooms will be there only temporarily, while the Rita Lidy Hollings Science Center is being renovated.×