Donation funds education and health ventures

Rebecca Cross, Assistant Editor

During a lunch outing this summer, James S. “Jim” Konduros handed Francis Marion University (FMU) President Dr. Fred Carter a check for $500,000. Konduros is the chairman of the Fisherman’s Fund, a non-profit charity that developed from the PSARAS Foundation.


The donation will be used to support the new Center for Excellence and the expansion of the FMU nursing program.


“[The donation] was a generous gift from somebody who believes very, very strongly in this university,” Carter said. “It was also a very, very magnanimous gesture from a dear friend, and I am profoundly grateful.”


Carter and Konduros have known each other for over three decades. Their friendship began in Columbia, South Carolina when Carter was the Director of the State Budget Control Board and Konduros was the Managing Partner for the McNair Law Firm. A professional relationship blossomed into a long-lasting friendship.


Through the years, Konduros’ contributions to FMU through the Fisherman’s Fund and the PSARAS Foundation have totaled close to $3.5 million. Contributions have supported programs on campus such as the Non-Profit Leadership Institute and the Rural Area Leadership Institute. Also, donations were used to initially create the Robert E. McNair Center for Research and Service and gave the seed money to develop the McNair Scholars program.


“[Konduros] has been a staunch and generous supporter to this university [FMU] for years,” Carter said. “Jim is one of those people who lives to serve others.”


“[The donation] is at least as meaningful for me as it is for the university,” said Konduros in an FMU news release. “It is one of the last, and largest gifts that I’ll be part of since I am retiring as chairman of the Konduros Fisherman’s Fund, and I wanted it to be special. My hope was that it would be something that provided a benefit that kept on going for years to come and with President Carter’s leadership, I’m sure it will.”


The recent donation will not only benefit FMU but will do much to aid the Pee Dee region.


The portion of the donation that will be used to expand the nursing program will help open up more opportunities for health education. Areas of the state that are not currently covered will soon be reached.


The portion given to the Center for Excellence will help start programs developed to better prepare middle school and high school students to enter into college.


FMU English professor and co-director of the Center for Excellence, Dr. Matthew Nelson, knows this money will be beneficial in various ways for many people.


“These funds will help teachers and students throughout the Pee Dee and all over the state,” Nelson said. “They are helping to better prepare the next generation of FMU students.”


An Eighth Grade Academy will be held on the FMU campus in the summer of 2015, and it will provide students from Florence School Districts one and four with the opportunity to learn more about what it takes to be prepared for life after high school.  The Center for Excellence will also host college nights on area high school campuses.


Donations from private sources like the Fisherman’s Fund help to supplement state funding for FMU. Private donations allow the university to expand and develop new opportunities while continuing to keep student tuition at a moderate rate.


“Our tuition is still one of the lowest in the state among public universities, and I’m very proud of that,” Carter said. “We’re able to do that because of generous contributions from people like Mr. Konduros.”