Freed-Hardeman is phasing out their Dickson campus, puts Renaissance Center for sale

Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 21:39:03-04

DICKSON, Tenn. (WTVF) — Dickson native Camryn Johnstone should be excited for the future, but instead, the nursing student is dreading the end of the semester.

"We just really hate the whole situation," said Johnstone. "I was extremely emotional last week. I think we all were."

When the semester ends, so will Freed-Hardeman University's Dickson campus at the Renaissance Center.

"This campus will no longer be having Freed-Hardeman’s nursing program, which is absolutely devastating for this community," said Johnstone, who still has a year of schooling left.

"I can understand individuals feeling like that felt sudden," said Freed-Hardeman University's President David Shannon.

Shannon said they really had no choice. FHU was only using a fraction of the 100,000 square foot space.

"It just didn’t make sense for us to have that kind of cost with that large of a building," said Shannon.

If you're thinking, this structure doesn't look like a college campus building, you'd be right.

In 1999, the Jackson Foundation opened up the Renaissance Center, a sprawling children's museum specializing in visual and performance arts.

"Whether it be like a show or you’re coming in for a museum," said Johnstone.

But despite sky high ambitions, the Renaissance Center never really got off the ground. In 2013, the space was donated to Freed-Hardeman University. It was a dream come true for Dickson natives like Camryn.

"I knew I wanted to stay close to home and this opportunity was available so I took it as soon as I knew about it," she said.

Now the program is phasing out. The university president tells us, that existing students will be able to finish their degrees, just in a different space.

"We do not have anything definite yet but we can tell you we’re looking in Dickson County," Shannon said.

Students slated to begin classes in fall 2022 can either transfer to the main Henderson campus or take first-semester scholarship money awarded to them at FHU Dickson and apply them to a different school.

"We’ve offered every one of those students to come to the Henderson campus for the very same tuition rate and the same scholarships," said Shannon.

As for the future of the Renaissance Center? David Shannon hopes for a bright future.

"There are kind of as many opportunities as people are willing to dream," he said.

Camryn worries, it'll just be more struggles of the past. "It’s really heartbreaking to see it possibly go away," she said.

You can bid on the 100,000 square foot facility through an online auction site until the end of June. Then it will be sold to the highest bidder.

Nashville State students in Dickson are also impacted by the building sale. Nashville State said they are looking for alternative classroom space.