Student center under construction at Daytona State College named for local entrepreneur L. Gale Lemerand

Photos and video for Headline Surfer / Daytona State College has named its 84,000-square-foot student center under construction on its main campus in honor of longtime benefactor and former trustee L. Gale Lemerand during a  special ceremony Thursday, May 31, at the main campus in Daytona Beach, Florida, as shown in the images above. This was followed by a hard hat video tour of the three-story structure, also shown above, with groundbreaking a year ago and ongoing construction expected to be completed next spring. To See ongoing construction, please visit DaytonaState.edu/web_cam.

 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As one of greater Daytona's more prominent entrepreneurs, L. Gale Lemerand had already donated $1 million towards the funding of a brand new student center at Daytona State College.

Lemerand, the chairman, and CEO of the company behind the Stonewood Grill and Peach Valley Café restaurants and a partner in the local chain of Houligan’s sports bars, didn't hesitate to write another check, considering the student center would bear his name in return. 

And his advanced age, why not?

After all, Lemerand, a kind-hearted, but astute businessman, said he made the donation because he wants to see the money put to good use while he’s still alive at DSC and where he formerly served as a member of its board of trustees.

Lemerand, who never went to college himself, as opposed to his initial plan to donate money to Daytona State through a will after his passing. But the more he thought about, Lemerand figured, why wait? 

"I decided, ‘Gee, I might as well do it right now rather than waiting 30 years, cracking, "You know I’m 84. "I have so much respect for the school. I think it’s just wonderful to have a community college in town.”

L. Gale Lemerand has new student center at Daytona State College in his name / Headline SurferAfter all, Lemerand, a kind-hearted, but astute businessman, said he made the donation because he wants to see the money put to good use while he’s still alive at DSC and where he formerly served as a member of its board of trustees.

Lemerand, who never went to college himself, as opposed to his initial plan to donate money to Daytona State through a will after his passing. But the more he thought about, Lemerand figured, why wait? 

"I decided, ‘Gee, I might as well do it right now rather than waiting 30 years, cracking, "You know I’m 84. "I have so much respect for the school. I think it’s just wonderful to have a community college in town.”

And so thanks to Lemerand with drawing the extra funding from his large bank account, which is only exceeded by his big heart, Daytona State College named its 84,000-square-foot student center under construction on its main campus in honor of Lemerand, its longtime benefactor and former trustee L. Gale Lemerand during a special ceremony Thursday at the main campus.

This was followed by a video tour of the three-story structure, expected to be completed next spring. Headline Surfer has included that video presentation with its multimedia coverage on the news of Lemerand's generous gift to DSC.

The naming marks a formal recognition of Lemerand’s longtime support of the college and its students, including a most recent gift of $2 million to the Daytona State College Foundation. The gift brings to more than $3 million donated to DSC by the prolific entrepreneur over the years in support of student scholarships and campus growth initiatives, becoming the college’s most generous living benefactor.

“Today, we come together to honor a man who has been a champion of higher education, not only at Daytona State College but throughout the state of Florida,” Daytona State College President Tom LoBasso said.

“The entire college community is deeply proud and honored to name this new student center for Mr. Gale Lemerand, whose longtime support of Daytona State already is leaving a legacy that will live on for generations and continue to serve countless students," Lobasso said, adding with emphasis, "Gale, thank you for being a friend of Daytona State College and for making such a huge difference in the lives of so many of our students, yesterday, today and well into the future.”

While Lemerand’s donation won’t be used specifically for the student center, LoBasso said Lemerand’s intentions and his history with the college was reason enough to name the building after him.

“He’s (Lemerand) just someone that likes to see students succeed and the center embodies a lot of that functionality and it helps students be successful,” LoBasso said. “I suspect it’s truly going to be the hub of the student experience, so I just think it’s fitting that he decided to take the opportunity to support us.”

The new student center bearing Lemerand's name will embody a design and function for modern-era higher education that will focus on student engagement. It will facilitate a paradigm shift in teaching and learning for the 21st century, noted Forough Hosseini, chairwoman of the DSC Board of Trustees.

 “This will be a place where students can socialize and interact with their peers, faculty and college staff, and access the resources and guidance they need to stay on track,” Hosseini explained.

She added, “We know that students who are engaged in college life are more likely to achieve academic success and complete their degrees. This facility is being built with this in mind.”

Forough Hosseini thanks L Gale Lemerand for $2M donation to DSC / Headline SurferThe new student center bearing Lemerand's name will embody a design and function for modern-era higher education that will focus on student engagement. It will facilitate a paradigm shift in teaching and learning for the 21st century,  noted Forough Hosseini, chairwoman of the DSC Board of Trustees. 

“This will be a place where students can socialize and interact with their peers, faculty and college staff, and access the resources and guidance they need to stay on track,” Hosseini explained.

She added. “We know that students who are engaged in college life are more likely to achieve academic success and complete their degrees. This facility is being built with this in mind.”

In addition to academic support services that include the library and writing center, the building will house a study commons, state-of-the-art classrooms, conference rooms and a large events center. Career Services, a one-stop resource center for career planning and job placement, also will relocate to the building. The facility also will serve as a hub for the DSC student life experience, where students will gravitate to relax and socialize, with offices for student clubs, a game room, a cafeteria and coffee lounge, and an outdoor dining area.

Trustee Hosseini noted, “It is the generosity of people like Gale Lemerand that helps our lawmakers take notice when we make our funding requests. Knowing that our community’s leaders are serious about being partners in education, helping us achieve the kind of excellence in teaching and learning that our students expect goes a long way in Tallahassee.”  

Lemerand's generosity didn't go unnoticed to those who the new student center is intended for and will most benefit from it -- the students. 

“Mr. Lemerand, you are an inspiration and role model to every student who comes to Daytona State College,” said Sofia Rivas, past president of DSC’s Student Government Association, and member of the DSC class that graduated last month. 

“On behalf of our entire student body, I am honored to express to you our gratitude for your investment in education and in our future,” Rivas said.

Students thanked L Gale Lemerand for his generosity / Headline SurferLemerand's generosity didn't go unnoticed to those who the new staudent center is intended for and will most benefoit from it -- the sudents. 

“Mr. Lemerand, you are an inspiration and role model to every student who comes to Daytona State College,” said Sofia Rivas, past president of DSC’s Student Government Association, and member of the DSC class that graduated last month. 

“On behalf of our entire student body, I am honored to express to you our gratitude for your investment in education and in our future,” Rivas said.

Such sentiment reinforced to Lemerand that while he had no college education and made out just fine, he readily acknowledged that times have changed and it's important that he gives this generation and future generations of students, all the help he can to reach their ultimate potentials.

“I lucked out and became successful without one, but in this day and age, I think it’s so important,” Lemerand said, continuing, “In order to remain competitive, you just need a formal education so I’m a great proponent of schooling and education.”

Lemerand added, “As far as community college is concerned, I think it’s so great because there’s an incentive there to keep young people living in the community and contributing to the community going forward,” Lemerand said.

The state’s colleges have been subject to budget cuts in recent years, and DSC board chair Forough Hosseini spoke of the struggles of trying to wrestle money from legislators.

“At the end of the day when we go to Tallahassee and say, ‘We really need more money. We really need this building,’ they say, ‘What do you bring to the table? What has the community done? Have you guys stepped up,’” Hosseini said. “And you know Gale, because of you, over and over again, we can go and say our community has.”

L. Gale Lemerand Student center to be DSC's new hub

DSC’s student center broke ground in May 2017, as the college marked its 60th anniversary.

When completed, a sweeping three-story coquina stone building complete with bronze solar window screens and 30-foot gateway will greet visitors. From under a cantilevered east wing, guests and patrons will have views of an outdoor dining area tying into the courtyard of the campus.

“As most of you already know, our new student center will be one of the most comprehensive, spacious and modern facilities of its kind in the Florida College System,” LoBasso said. “It will be the focal point of the campus and an impressive presence along International Speedway Boulevard.”

DSC’s new library and writing center, will be housed on the third floor of the new student center. Another section will host career services, a one-stop resource center for career planning and job placement, said Chris Wainwright, DSC’s associate vice president of facilities.

Wainwright said the new facility will include classrooms, a large events center, conference rooms. And as previously mentioned by DSC President Lobasso, Wainwright said It also will provide for offices, a cafeteria and coffee lounge, and an outdoor dining area.

The new building overshadows the 62,500-square-foot Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality Management – the college’s former centerpiece. When coupled with the Hosseini building, the student center will create a notable impression for those visiting or passing by campus — exactly what LoBasso said he wants.

Mori Hosseini is Forough Hosseini's husband, and the Ormond Beach couple are the principal owners of ICI homes, a luxury home and retail development construction company, based in Daytona Beach, with sales throughout the Southeastern US. 

Currently, students occupy the aging 22,278 square-foot Lenholt Student Center, which was built in 1964. Noting how she frequented the same center in the ’80s when she was a student, Forough Hosseini said it was about time DSC entered the modern era.

Lobasso readily agreed, saying, “The Hosseini Center was the first step toward moving the face of the campus toward the front, and the student center is the centerpiece that really helps welcome students into the campus."

The DSC president added, “This is really going to give us a presence on International Speedway Boulevard, so we’re doing our part to help the community with a very nice image of what Daytona Beach is about.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Besides the L. Gale Lemerand Student Center at Daytona State College, other higher education entities named after the local entrepreneur include:
• The University of Florida’s football coaches offices;
• UF’s athletic building;
• The fitness center in UF’s basketball training facility;
• A road in front of UF’s football stadium;
• UF’s indoor football practice facility;
• B-CU’s nursing training facility;
• ERAU’s auditorium;
• DSC’s aquatic and fitness center;
• DSC’s entrepreneurial series.
 
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.