New mass communication building to open in the fall

Robin Reid

The Mass Communication Department will welcome students, faculty and staff to its new home at the university, in fall 2017. While the plans for the building began in fall 2014, the ground-breaking began in February 2016. Having an up-to-date facility is important to current students as well as prospective students. The first floor of the new building is comprised of two faculty offices, six edit bays, an audio room, the broadcast lab, the control room, TV studio, rack room and three collaboration areas for students to gather.  There are also camera and equipment storage areas to ensure all equipment has proper storage, which was not available in the old building.

The new broadcast studio is allowing the art department to take over their previous studio.

“As technology evolves, we have to keep up with it or we are not properly serving our students,” Mass Communication Department Chair Jim Sernoe said. “The current facilities did not allow us to do a lot of things we wanted to do.”

An addition to the Fain College of Fine Arts building, the new, two-story building will be the D-wing. At a cost of about $7 million, approximately $5.5 million went to the construction of the building. The remaining money was dedicated toward equipment and furniture. The funding for the building was raised through a combination of Higher Education Assistance Funds, as well as internal funds and donations. The mass communication faculty hopes that having the new building will increase the number of students choosing to study mass communication in the future.

“Facilities matter. Although we hope what goes on in a classroom or lab is more important than how it looks, visitors, including potential students and their families, form their impressions partially based on the facilities,” Sernoe said.

After being located in a hallway of offices and classrooms with no windows, one of the most highly anticipated features of the building is natural light.  Additional collaboration space in the new building is also welcomed because of the opportunity to allow students to work together.

“[I’m most looking forward to] Having adequate space and up-to-date equipment, as well as natural light. I’m also happy that there will be collaboration spaces for the students,” Sernoe said. “We don’t have those things in the current facility.”

Jonathon Quam, assistant professor of mass communication, said he is also looking forward to the changes arriving with the new building and hopes that having the building will provide a greater understanding of the concept of communication and media for students.

“I honestly hope that the students are able to understand the integration between all of the different aspects of the program better through this new building and that we have the opportunity to utilize all the new spaces in ways that we currently didn’t get to,” Quam said. “The new building gives us another chance to see how our classes can interact with each other.”

Providing a real-life understanding of how production companies function and increasing students’ abilities to be competitive in the real-world is important to the purpose of the mass communication program. Quam said his favorite aspect of the new building is actually the field equipment, which changes the way he will be able to teach his classes.

“This brand new set of field equipment will allow me to expand the projects we work on and the type of experience that the students get. It will also make sure that we have enough equipment that students can be working on projects in an individual or dual group basis,” Quam said. “Now I can make sure each student is gaining these skills and I can evaluate on a near individual basis.”

The new building is not only important for students in the program now, but also in the future. Training students on up-to-date equipment keeps them competitive in the field and provides an opportunity for competition against larger universities, according to Quam.

“It takes us beyond the current state of media production and has us ready for a few years to come which will help us be competitive against these larger universities with more resources and making sure we get the exact same quality of education that those programs have,” Quam said.

TV-2 director and former mass communication student Lisa Moore said she is also looking forward to moving into the new building. She has seen the many drafts of and setbacks in acquiring the building, both as a student and employee, so she said the building means everything to her.

“It truly means everything. This is not the first time we’ve ever started this process of designing a building. Since I’ve been here, it’s the third time,” Moore said. “Every time we had to stop and start over, it was a blow. You find yourself thinking, ‘I don’t think we’re going to get another chance,’ and your heart sinks a little bit.  This building means a lot to us as a department and hopefully for the students as well.”

Moore has been involved with the new building since its inception, having the most involvement with the equipment.  She had to find a way to invest the money for the future which proved to be “somewhat of a guessing game and quite the balancing act.”

“What we do now must last us for 20 years and it has to be able to grow with us for 20 years,” Moore said. “Overall, I cut over $1 million out of that budget to get us down to what we could afford and hopefully be able to give us space to grow.”

It is important to understand that where you are today should be appreciated while having optimism for the future. Due to the rapid changes of the mass communication field, it’s important for students to be able to grow and change with it and the new building with up-to-date equipment and technology will provide opportunities for growth, according to Moore.

“We need to see where we’ve come from to appreciate where we’re going. I want us to be able to prepare the students better with the technology that’s out there than what we have now,” Moore said. “But I also want them to know it’s who they are and what we can teach them to do with what we have, that’s really important.”

Moore said Fine Arts Dean Martin Camacho and former-dean Ron Fischi also helped the new building happen.

“Without Dr. Fischli starting this process, Dr. Camacho wouldn’t have even had the chance to finish it off. There’s no amount of thanks or ice cream, pizza parties or anything else that we could ever possibly offer to Dr. Camacho to thank him for making this building possible,” Moore said. “Dr. Fischli didn’t get to finish it off, but I know he’d be proud. Without the two of them sticking up and fighting for our department and our students, but also Fain and arts as a whole, we wouldn’t be where we are today, let alone where we’re going to be in the future.”

Student reactions
I am most looking forward to…

  • “Not having my major classes in closets and being able to learn in a larger, updated learning environment.” | Caleb Martin, mass communication sophomore
  • “The new production studio.  It’s huge, stocked and loaded with new toys.” | Taylor Morrison, mass communication junior
  • “Enhancing my skills in a department that wants to prepare us for a changing media and technological environment.” | Taylor Warren, mass communication junior
  • “Professionalism. I want the faculty and staff to be inspired by our new faculty and with our new equipment to produce and provide the best service for our department.” | Kharmyn Lewis, mass communication senior

Mass Communication Building

The downstairs computer lab will be open to all broadcasting students. Photo by Leah Bryce
The downstairs computer lab will be open to all broadcasting students. Photo by Leah Bryce
In the control room the switch board for broadcasting is linked up to the monitors and cameras. Photo by Justin Marquart.
In the control room the switch board for broadcasting is linked up to the monitors and cameras. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Leah Bryce
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Leah Bryce
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Leah Bryce
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Leah Bryce
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Many screens line the wall of the control room on the other side of the broadcasting studio on the first floor. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The control room also gives an inside look into the broadcast studio through a window as well as the moniters linked up to the cameras. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The control room also gives an inside look into the broadcast studio through a window as well as the moniters linked up to the cameras. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Across the hall from the control room, many indivdual editing rooms offer broadcasting students a soundproof room for editing. Photo by Leah Bryce
Across the hall from the control room, many indivdual editing rooms offer broadcasting students a soundproof room for editing. Photo by Leah Bryce
With hopes of cultivating student academic interaction, the lobby houses T.V.'s and lounge areas for students to study. Photo by Leah Bryce
With hopes of cultivating student academic interaction, the lobby houses T.V.'s and lounge areas for students to study. Photo by Leah Bryce
With the goal of being a collaboration friendly envioronment, the kitchenet area offers a place for students to work together. Photo by Leah Bryce
With the goal of being a collaboration friendly envioronment, the kitchenet area offers a place for students to work together. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The second floor houses The Wichitan office and neighboring journalism lab/classroom both of which are significantly larger than the previous rooms. Photo by Leah Bryce
The Wichitan office also features T.V.'s to keep local and world news updated in real time, as well as multiple computers for staff members to work. Photo by Leah Bryce
The Wichitan office also features T.V.'s to keep local and world news updated in real time, as well as multiple computers for staff members to work. Photo by Leah Bryce
The Wichitan office also features T.V.'s to keep local and world news updated in real time, as well as multiple computers for staff members to work. Photo by Leah Bryce
The Wichitan office also features T.V.'s to keep local and world news updated in real time, as well as multiple computers for staff members to work. Photo by Leah Bryce
The Wichitan office also features T.V.'s to keep local and world news updated in real time, as well as multiple computers for staff members to work. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The Wichitan office also features T.V.'s to keep local and world news updated in real time, as well as multiple computers for staff members to work. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Many of the mass communications professors will be moving into offices like this one, in the new building. Photo by Leah Bryce
Many of the mass communications professors will be moving into offices like this one, in the new building. Photo by Leah Bryce
Many of the mass communications professors will be moving into offices like this one, in the new building. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Many of the mass communications professors will be moving into offices like this one, in the new building. Photo by Justin Marquart.
The new broadcast studio is allowing the art department to take over their previous studio. Photo by Leah Bryce
The new broadcast studio is allowing the art department to take over their previous studio. Photo by Leah Bryce
The new broadcast studio is allowing the art department to take over their previous studio. Photo by Leah Bryce
The new broadcast studio is allowing the art department to take over their previous studio. Photo by Leah Bryce
Outside the newsroom on the second floor, the hallway connects the new Journalism Lab that will double as a class room and the offices of the mass communication professors. Photo by Justin Marquart.
Outside the newsroom on the second floor, the hallway connects the new Journalism Lab that will double as a class room and the offices of the mass communication professors. Photo by Justin Marquart.