Coker Celebrates Groundbreaking for the Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center

Coker Celebrates Groundbreaking for the Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – April 25, 2013 – At the launch of the most ambitious capital campaign in the institution’s history, today Coker College celebrated the start of construction on its new 71,000 square-foot athletics facility, the Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center.


 Explaining that the name for the facility needed to convey the College’s intentions for the building, Coker College President Robert Wyatt said he wanted the new Center to be a place that would bring pride to the campus and the Hartsville community, support students’ individual growth and honor the work of Coker’s founders as well as its future leaders.

“We want our new Center to encourage individuals and teams and, indeed, this campus and the community of Hartsville to continually strive for greater achievement,” said Wyatt.  “Like its worthy namesakes, The Harris E. and Louise H. DeLoach Center will do all of these things and much more.”

“Louise and I are so pleased to be a part of this building project with Coker College,” said Harris DeLoach.  “It reflects our deep appreciation for the good work of students, faculty, staff, alumni and the administration. More importantly, however, we want it to reflect how passionately we believe in the role that education plays in the success of the people of this community.”

Howard Coker, chair of the Coker College Board of Trustees, explained that the decision to build a new athletic center emerged from the College’s recently released five-year strategic plan and an extended period of planned enrollment growth. 

“Three months ago today, we broke ground on the first of six residential buildings that will be home to 248 bright, engaging new students, 248 students who will be a part of Coker’s ideal 1,500 and who will reshape this college,” said Coker.  “Today, we celebrate a project that will redefine the futures those students will create.”

Harris E. DeLoach Jr. is executive chairman of Sonoco’s board of directors and a trustee of The Duke Endowment. He served as chairman and chief executive officer at Sonoco Products Co. before his retirement this month.

Bringing together stakeholders in private and public sectors, parents and community members, and  educators at all levels, in 2011 under DeLoach’s leadership, Sonoco committed $5 million to establish PULSE, an innovative achievement program that brings together Coker College, the Darlington County School District, the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics and Yale University’s School Development Program in a unique collaboration to support Hartsville students from kindergarten through high school graduation.

Earlier this year,  DeLoach was named the Will Woodham Business Person of the Year by the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce. He was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2010 and was named Business Person of the Year in 2008 by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.   He is a past trustee of Coker and received an honorary degree from the College in 2001. 

Designed by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, with construction management services provided by Choate Construction, the facility will have a main gymnasium with a seating capacity of 1,908 and wide-ranging features including a practice gym, classroom space, state-of-the-art training rooms, offices, a conference room and a café. 

Beth Bass, CEO of the Women’s Basketball Association and a Hartsville native who was not able to be present for today’s ceremony expressed her personal appreciation about the project. 

“I am not surprised by Sonoco’s perpetual commitment to the Hartsville community,” said Bass.  “Their vision will pave the way for young men and women to dream great dreams and see them to fruition.” 

For information about the Redefining Excellence campaign, visit

Artist Renderings of DeLoach Center