Piedmont Receives $1 Million Donation for New Education Building


Since the start of last semester, Piedmont College has been rumbling with construction sounds as the school’s new Conservatory of Music is built around the Chapel. While the Conservatory won’t be completed until the end of 2019, the college has already secured over half of the funding required for the construction of a new School of Education building.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time, really before I was president,” said James F. Mellichamp, the president of Piedmont. “The faculty for the School of Education are housed on the ground floor of the library, but they don’t really have a home like other schools do. The School of Business, for example, has Camp Hall, and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences is in Daniel Hall. The School of Education is the largest academic school in the college; we have well over 1,000 majors in teacher education, and they really deserve to have a center that we really identify with teacher education.”

Rather than building the new center from scratch, construction of the School of Education will take place within the already-established foundation of Nielsen Hall.

The exterior perspective sketch of the new School of Education Building. ILLUSTRATION / PIEDMONT COLLEGE

“It’s going to be a fairly straight-forward project,” said Mellichamp. “The building is already completed, we’re just going to be gutting the interior, so we’re not doing sight work and we’re not dealing with rain like we are with the music project. The building should be finished by the fall of 2020.”

As a private college, Piedmont doesn’t receive any assistance from the state or federal government, so the money required for projects like this come entirely from donations. In order to begin construction of the School of Education building, Mellichamp needed to bring in $2.25 million.

“I’ve been working various donors, and in fact I had some good success already, I brought in about a quarter of a million dollars for the project,” he said. “What we needed though was for somebody to really step forward as the lead donor for this project.”

Mellichamp found his answer at the end of last year when Charles Sewell, a 1954 graduate of Piedmont College, came forward with a large donation

An perspective sketch of the inside hall. ILLUSTRATION / PIEDMONT COLLEGE

“I had been talking to (Sewell) for about five years about a gift, and I hadn’t really expected anything this quickly.” Mellichamp said. “He and his wife gave me a check for a million dollars on the day before graduation in December, and we’ll recognize their donation by naming the center after the Sewell family.”

This isn’t Sewell’s first time donating money to Piedmont, and some students may even recognize his name.

“Mr. Sewell gave us a very nice gift almost twenty years ago, nowhere near the size of this one but still a very generous gift,” Mellichamp said. “We named the organ in the Piedmont College Chapel after him, so if you’ve seen references to the Sewell Organ, that’s the same individual.”

Mellichamp still needs to raise another million dollars before funding for the project will be completed, but he’s confident that he’ll be able to by the time the music department is moved out of Nielson Hall in November.

“I think it’s going to be a really neat building,” he said. “The outside won’t change a lot, but the interior design is very contemporary and edgy, sort of like the interior of the Student Commons. I think it will be exciting to have another building that’s kind of, I want to say, jazzy.”

To watch the full interview, click below: