THE SHEPHERD HOTEL: An inspiring project at Clemson University


We wish him well as he moves on to his next endeavor, developing the Shepherd Hotel in the downtown area of Clemson University in South Carolina. Mr. Hayduk spent most of his career working in the hospitality and real estate industries, his most recent assignment as a CEO / General Manager of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in New York City. Aside from his professional successes, Mr. Hayduk is a proud father of four with aspirations to give back to the community through the development of his inspiring project at Clemson University.

Sixteen years ago, when Mr. Hayduk’s third daughter was born with Down syndrome, he became determined to create and provide a path in life for her to find success. Mr. Hayduk and his family then adopted a son, his fourth child, who also is diagnosed with Down syndrome. With the goal of helping not only his children but the special needs community at large as well, Mr. Hayduk thought of an exceptional idea to build, own, and operate a hotel where he could employ individuals with disabilities.

Three short years ago his dream became a reality. While in attendance at a Clemson University football game, Mr. Hayduk explained to a friend his dream of owning and operating a hotel that would employ individuals with disabilities. This friend was a developer who happened to own real estate in the downtown area of Clemson. Within the next hour, Mr. Hayduk was in contact with the founder of the ClemsonLIFE program, who quickly became interested in partnering with Mr. Hayduk on the Shepherd Hotel project. Likewise, the Dean of The College of Education recognized a great deal of potential and success for the ClemsonLIFE students who would participate in the Shepherd Hotel project.

According to the website, the ClemsonLIFE program is a two-year Basic Program offered to students with disabilities. The program’s goal is to produce self-sufficient young adults in a public university setting while incorporating functional academics, independent living, employment, social and leisure skills, and health and wellness skills. Additionally, the ClemsonLIFE Program offers a two-year Advanced Program for students that have demonstrated the ability to live independently, sustain employment, and socially integrate during the Basic Program. The Advanced Program focuses on workplace experience, community integration, and independent living.

The project quickly gained popularity as Mr. Dabo Swinney, Clemson University head football coach, also became interested in partnering with Mr. Hayduk on the project. With aspirations to turn Mr. Hayduk’s dream into a reality, Mr. Dabo Swinney introduced Mr. Hayduk to Rich Davies, a third-generation real estate developer and Clemson Alum, and the Shepherd Hotel was underway.

The project has been under construction for the past eight months. The Shepherd Hotel explains on its website, “Our goal is to approach the employment of individuals with special needs as a business challenge rather than one designated to social services.We aim to create opportunities for an under-engaged portion of the population in a collective, focused environment while providing top- notch service and care to our guests. We have partnered with the ClemsonLIFE program to create part-time roles for students and graduates, and are in the process of creating a Certificate of Hospitality for students who have trained and worked with us prior to graduating”.

Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, the ClemsonLIFE students have undergone training in order to maintain and operate the hotel. Students have learned necessary customer service skills such as how to thoroughly clean rooms and make a bed. Ambitious to join the ClemsonLIFE program and contribute to her father’s project, Mr. Hayduk’s daughter likes to demonstrate, and boast about, her beautifully made bed to her father every morning.

BOCA Group is overjoyed and eager for the grand opening of The Shepherd Hotel and has provided advisory services to Mr. Hayduk and his team. The hotel is tentatively scheduled to open in April of 2022. Mr. Hayduk has opened the door for many students with disabilities, giving them an opportunity to find success and a sense of accomplishment as an employee at the Shepherd Hotel.

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