One local man issues a challenge to the community to aid in the visual enhancement of the USC Aiken Convocation Center. After presenting a proposal to officials at USC Aiken, local architect Thomas Woodman decided to look to the community for help. "It was presented to USCA officials who agreed to consider the design but declined to go forward because of severe budget restraints. It is hoped that a group of patrons and civic donors will provide funding for this facade enhancement. The estimated cost is $50,000 to $60,000," said Woodman, who has pledged the first $1,000. Woodman's concern arose from a sense of community pride. "The new Convocation Center is a handsome feature of the university and the City of Aiken. It has been my concern, as a prideful citizen of Aiken, that the visual impression of the building is greatly impaired by the sight of mechanical equipment which is in full view over the entry," said Woodman. "They have hosted notable programs and speakers at this facility. It continues to gain a favorable reputation throughout the region and must put forth the best first impression to those who will gather there." The proposal includes a visual barrier to hide the equipment, along with a row of small high-intensity lamps placed across the top. "The lights will created the impression of a type of tiara or crown of jewels," said Woodman. At this time, USC Aiken officials have declined the project. Jennifer Conner, university spokesperson, said, "Mr. Woodman did approach us with this offer. While we appreciate his interest, given our current budget situation, we are not in a position to campaign for this endeavor. If our local community is interested in supporting the university at such a generous level, we have much more urgent needs - student scholarships being at the top of the list." Woodman's intentions are to raise funds specifically for the proposed visual barrier project. "The money raised is specifically for the purpose of taking on this project. The construction would be created with the architect of the building working with the university," said Woodman. Contact Rachel Johnson at