Franklin Hall move to create ‘domino effect’ on campus

Emily Andrews

An unfinished classroom in Franklin Hall awaits ceiling tiles and carpet. ABBY FISHER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

Franklin Hall is going to be the new home of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. What will this new facility have to offer, and will it be ready by Fall 2007?

Franklin Hall is scheduled to be open for classes by June, and students will have limited access to other sections of the building, but the official grand opening isn’t until Spring 2008, said Jeff Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. There was a 10 to 12 week delay in construction because of soil conditions, said Beth Ruffing, assistant director of architecture and engineering.

For students and faculty, it will take a while to learn the equipment and technology, Fruit said.

“First semester, we just don’t want to lose anything (technology and ability). By spring we can add really cool stuff and lots of technology,” Fruit said.

Some of the different features of Franklin Hall will include a converged newsroom, which will house the Daily Kent Stater and TV2; a digital broadcasting studio, which is a change from the current analog studio in the Music and Speech Center; a FirstEnergy interactive lecture hall; and a Gannett collaborative classroom.

“We hope the hallmark of Franklin Hall is its skills,” said James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information. “The ability for students to get jobs out of school and succeed in them; to hit the ground running.”

Franklin Hall has an overall project budget of $20.7 million and the official cost of construction was $16.2 million, according to Ruffing.

The funding comes from capital allocations, donations by individuals and corporations and money raised by the school. According to an e-mail from Katie Grigg, a physical facilities planner in the Office of the University Architect, in 2003 the office received $1,815,000. In 2005 it received an additional $13,923,684.

“We’re all trying really hard to make donor and capital allocation dollars go further. We do the best we can with what we’ve got,” Grigg said.

The effect of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication moving into Franklin Hall not only sits with journalism and mass communication students, but also with everyone who is going to use the space left behind.

According to Grigg, the first floor of Taylor Hall that now holds the Daily Kent Stater and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will house the School of Communication Studies and some of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The space communication studies and TV2 occupies in the Music and Speech Center will be used for the School of Theatre and Dance. Because there will be more room in the Music and Speech Center, the dance program will be moved from the Gym Annex to the Music and Speech Center.

“It really is a domino effect,” Grigg said.

Gaudino said he thinks Franklin Hall will change the School of Journalism and Mass Communication in three ways. It will bring students and faculty, who may be separated by distance, closer together and allow for collaboration. It will also allow faculty to design the building around the curriculum to fit the needs of present and future students.

A constant changing of student media leaders will also affect how students will use the new facility, Gaudino said.

“The exciting thing is that we change managers (of student media), so it’s a new experiment every year or semester, new dynamic, new set of minds,” Gaudino said. “We will be figuring it out. Students are less resistant to change.”

Telecommunications and journalism merged in 1987, and this is the first time both programs will be in one building.

“I’m most excited for the focus on convergence and the multiple forms of storytelling converging into one space; two disciplines coming together,” Gaudino said. “My only disappointment is my office won’t be in that building.”

Groups like the Student Media Task Force were started to discuss Franklin Hall and the convergence of telecommunications and journalism.

“We’ve had a lot of meetings to take advantage of what this new facility will allow,” Fruit said. “We’re all going to be in one building which is a huge thing, and we’ve got the right mix of faculty and students to take advantage of the building and the opportunities.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Emily Andrews at [email protected].