SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy wofford.edu) — Wofford College officially dedicated the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies and celebrated the servant leaders who made it possible—Harold and Delores Chandler.
The 17,525-square-foot center opened at the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
“This has been a remarkable year at Wofford College. During a pandemic, we managed to complete a $300 million comprehensive campaign, including the construction of the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies,” said Wofford President Dr. Nayef Samhat. “Delores and Harold Chandler, who made the lead gift for the new building are the ideal examples of the type of generous servant leaders who have made the campaign’s success possible.”
The Chandler Center for Environmental Studies received three Green Globes through the Green Globes Certification program, which recognizes buildings for sustainable design and operations. The building includes laboratories, classrooms and office space. Some of the building’s sustainable design elements include a rooftop garden with non-invasive plants, borrowed light in the building’s labs and classrooms, an exposed mass timber structural system, strategically placed windows for natural ventilation, heat island mitigation and controlled admission of natural light to reduce electric lighting to save energy.
The Chandlers have high hopes for students studying in the space.
“Students who will study here will lead companies or cities and states or other entities into a more environmentally sensitive era, or may become innovators or inventors, or who knows, even win a Nobel Prize for their stewardship and commitment,” Harold Chandler said during the dedication. “We expect to witness meaningful contributions from those who study, teach and are otherwise influenced by this award-winning facility and faculty.”
Environmental studies is one of the newest majors on Wofford’s campus, and the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies was designed to meet the department’s distinctive needs, including storage for kayaks and on-campus gardens.
“Twelve years ago, environmental studies at Wofford College was established, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by moving into a new building,” said Dr. Kaye Savage, professor and director of the Goodall Environmental Studies Center. “Every nook and cranny in the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies offers opportunities to teach and learn lessons in sustainability, green building, food systems, energy efficiency and more.”
Harold Chandler, a trustee emeritus at the college, is a 1971 Wofford graduate. Over the years, he has felt it was his responsibility to support future Terriers. The Chandler family has supported 14 endowed scholarships at Wofford.
“I attended Wofford on a scholarship,” Harold Chandler said. “Simply put, that has always meant to me and Delores that someone other than me or my family paid for me to attend Wofford. What an eternal gift it has been. Over the past 40 years or so, it has seemed only natural that doing the same for other Wofford students was the most appropriate and tangible way for us to give back, to say thank-you, genuinely and in perpetuity.”
Chandler served on the Wofford College Board of Trustees from 1988 to 2000 and again from 2004 until his retirement from the board in 2016; he served as vice chair from 2009 to 2011 and as chair from 2011 until his retirement. In 1993, he led the task force that helped move Wofford to Division I athletics and in 2005 he led a second task force on enrollment growth, both of which produced recommendations that have had a profound and positive impact on the college. In recognition of his retirement from the board, the board room in the DuPré Administration Building was named in his honor.
During his tenure on the board, Chandler oversaw significant reform of the college’s governance structure and served as an example and mentor to presidents emeriti Dr. Joab M. (Joe) Lesesne and Dr. Benjamin (Bernie) Dunlap. He also oversaw the hiring and first three years of the administration of President Nayef Samhat.
Chandler was the featured speaker at the 2017 Wofford Commencement, where he also received an honorary degree.
A native of Belton, South Carolina, and a graduate of Belton-Honea Path High School, Chandler was an outstanding student-athlete at Wofford, leading the Terrier football team as quarterback and captain, and he was named most valuable player on the team and was the runner-up for the South Carolina College Football Player of the Year in his senior year. The 1970 team played for the NAIA National Championship. He is a member of the Wofford Athletic Hall of Fame.
Chandler graduated summa cum laude from Wofford in 1971 with a degree in economics and was the class valedictorian. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa while at Wofford. He earned his MBA from the University of South Carolina and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s advanced management program.
He was selected as Wofford’s Young Alumnus of the Year in 1983 and has led the Terrier Club and endowed athletics scholarship efforts for many years, helping to achieve more than $47 million in endowed athletics funds. The Chandlers have supported Wofford generously through scholarships and renovation and building projects over more than 45 years of involvement with the college, including being major contributors to the construction of Lesesne Residence Hall and the Stewart H. Johnson Greek Village.
Chandler retired in 2019 as chairman of the board of Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co.; his 18-year involvement with the company substantially influenced the Chandlers’ decision to be the lead contributors of the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies. Over a 48-year business career in financial services and industrial manufacturing, he served in numerous roles from intern to chairman, president and chief executive officer, and he was a member of nine corporate boards.
During the Chandlers’ marriage and 11 corporate-related family moves, they raised two daughters, and Delores Chandler managed a real estate development business spanning 38 years.