Charleston Regional Development Alliance

Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties

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Building arts college receives federal grant

Jan. 1, 2005
Charleston Post and Courier
Officials of the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration recently announced a significant grant in support of the American College of the Building Arts. Numerous elected officials and other dignitaries were on hand to applaud the major step forward for the college.

Against the backdrop of a 200-year old marble and iron wall in historic Charleston, Mason Bishop, deputy assistant secretary of labor, delivered the $2.75 million grant to the new college. The funds are awarded under the authority of the Workforce Investment Act. The grant is intended to help underwrite the educational programs of the College.

“Our government is concerned about the lack of quality, trained craftspeople in the U.S.,” said Bishop. “And this shortage of skilled building artisans poses a threat to our culture. We believe that our American culture is represented both in our historic structures and in the ideas that future generations of builders will help make a reality. Today’s announcement helps ensure a bright future for those ideas and for our important buildings - and most importantly, for the people who would make it happen.”

Congressman Henry Brown, who helped secure the federal funding for the College, noted: “The construction industry is growing rapidly in our area. However, many employers are having difficulty finding skilled workers. The College will help provide these skills and demonstrate the potential for advancement in this field.”

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. noted that the College has already made an impact on its home city. “We are standing today in a park where more than a two centuries of wear compromised the strength and beauty of these walls. The significance of the loss of this wall, and what it represents, would be incalculable. Thanks to artisans and students from the College, the marble and iron has been restored. Today, this wall stands as a testament to their skill, and reminds us that beautiful structures have an immense, positive impact on all of our lives.”

David AvRutick, President of the American College of the Building Arts, thanked the Labor Department, and noted: “Research from the U.S. Department of Labor, among others, has been key to our belief that the College will serve a critical role in both protecting this nation’s heritage and creating the significant structures of the future. We know that the shortage of skilled building artisans, and the potential loss of previous generations of knowledge, represents a crisis worthy of our best efforts.”

The College, which will launch with 48 students (eight per major) and grow to approximately 144 over four years, will be the only four-year college in the nation to offer a degree in the building arts. Students will major in one of six disciplines: architectural stone work, carpentry, masonry, plaster, ornamental iron working and timber framing. Summer sessions will feature apprenticeships around the nation that will immerse students in their chosen field. With the successful completion of their coursework, students will receive either an Associates or a Bachelors degree in Applied Sciences.

Currently, the College is located in the historic Old City Jail in downtown Charleston. A permanent campus will be created on the nearby 330+-year-old McLeod Plantation. Both sites offer the students and faculty the chance to work together in a living laboratory that encompasses history and beauty.

The inaugural class will study in transitional classroom and workshop facilities, and use both McLeod and the Old City Jail as their learning labs.
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