DOTHAN, Ala.—Troy University Thursday announced plans for the creation of the Coleman Center for Early Learning and Family Enrichment, a new facility to be located at the University’s Dothan Campus.
A collaboration between the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Education, the Coleman Center will enhance the University’s support for the Dothan and Wiregrass community in the area of early childhood development.
“This is a great day for our area,” said Dothan School Board Chairman Mike Schmitz. “This center marks an extraordinary opportunity to address a serious need in the area of early childhood development.”
The facility is named after James F. Coleman, the longtime chairman of Coleman Worldwide Moving, whose family’s donation helped make the project possible. Although originally announced to focus on business and entrepreneurship, the growing need for early education support in the Wiregrass sparked a shift in focus. The City of Dothan, Houston County, the City of Ozark, the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and numerous private donors helped make the Coleman Center a reality.
“There’s a huge need for children to get a smart start, and this center will provide an environment where we can prepare teachers for the classroom,” said Jeff Coleman, CEO of Coleman World Group. “This will provide children with greater access to pre-K education in the Dothan area and all the surrounding counties. There is a great need and a lot of work to do.”
The 12,000-square-foot facility will cost between $2 million and $3 million and will feature classrooms for 3-year-old children, classrooms for 4-year-old children, conference and meeting spaces for workshops, assessment rooms, counseling spaces and more.
“I really think this will create a domino effect that will begin with the Coleman Center but has the potential to ripple through this community, this state and this nation,” said Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “There are three goals we will focus on. First is to serve the children. Second is to, in the process, serve the teachers and prepare them for their careers. And finally, to create a model that evolves. It’s that model that will truly be of lasting effect, because not only will it affect what we do here, but it will go well beyond that.”
University faculty and graduate students will provide services and instruction. Groundbreaking is set for Spring 2018.