For decades now, the idea that that the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications might actually move out of its cramped quarters on the first floor of the Carolina Coliseum has been little more than a frustrating rumor.
No sooner would students, administrators and alumni start dreaming of moving into spiffy and spacious new digs than they would see their hopes dashed.
Plans were drafted, re-drafted, announced, scuttled.
Nine years ago, InterCom, the school’s alumni publication, happily proclaimed that the school would be moving into LeConte College on the USC Horseshoe in 2009.
In 2011, administrators confidently announced in The Daily Gamecock that the J-School would move into the Health Sciences Building at the corner of Sumter and Greene by 2014, after the Arnold School of Public Health moved out.
“I’m completely pessimistic,” professor Jay Bender said at the time. “It may happen. There are probably more false statements made about moving the journalism school than are made outside the women’s dorms on Saturday nights.”
But actually, there’s every indication this prediction will work out, even if the target date was off by a year.
On Feb. 3, ground was officially broken for a $25 million, 55,000-square feet project to renovate the former Health Sciences Building, scheduled to be ready by the fall semester of 2015.
“We’re pleased that it’s happening,” says Charles Bierbauer, dean of the school since 2001. “We’re finally converting some of the skeptics.”
Bierbauer himself can hardly believe it, which is why he keeps driving by the site. Yep, there’s a construction fence, and hardhats, and stuff being hauled in and out.
The school, established in 1923, was moved to the first floor of the Carolina Coliseum in 1969. Ever since then, it’s been outgrowing the space, which it now shares with USC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management.
“As large as the building is,” says Bierbauer, “the space that we occupy is a little less than 30,000 square feet, and it’s inflexible. All these cinder block walls around us do not come down readily.”
As a result, the school — with 1,500 students and 40 full- or part-time faculty — has made a science of making do.
“We have cannibalized space in the 12 years I’ve been here,” Bierbauer says, “where we no longer have a conference room, we no longer have a reading room, and we need office space — space to build the program. We’re cramped on one half of a floor of a not highly functional building.”
With nearly double the space at the new building, classes won’t be spread out all over campus. The new building will have a 150-seat auditorium, which not only means that students won’t have to go to the nursing school to attend lectures, but will also have a greater sense of identity with their chosen career.
“If we have 300 freshmen coming in, I’d rather teach two sections in there than three sections somewhere else,” Bierbauer says, “so that they get a sense of ‘I belong here, I fit here, they see me.’”
Also, where the current facility puts print media in one corner and broadcast journalism in another, the new facility will be more adaptive to a new media landscape, where the Internet has blurred the lines, and both newspaper and broadcast reporters find themselves doing each other’s job.
But journalism, as the name of the school indicates, is only half the story. There are also classes on public relations and visual communications.
Bierbauer said he doesn’t shed a tear if a student who arrives wanting to work for CNN winds up going into law or human resources. What matters is that they are able to master communication skills, which are portable anywhere.
For those committed to journalism, Bierbauer says the possibilities are definitely out there.
“It’s spread across this panorama of possibilities,” he says. “There’s more journalism being done than ever before. But it’s being done in a thousand venues rather than 20.”
Great Gifts for the Whole Family
Don’t miss Half Moon Outfitters’ holiday sale! Up to 30% off Prana, Patagonia, The North Face, and other great brands. Location and hours here.
Hickory Tavern Is Now Open!
Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@TheHickoryTav), Instagram (@HickoryTavern), and visit our website for more info. 907 Senate Street in the Vista!
Going someplace cool this weekend?
Let The Backpacker help you go lightweight, comfortable and in style! Patagonia, Prana, Merrell, The North Face and more! Click for location, hours and more info.
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage offers 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Ice Skate on Main Street
Columbia’s famously hot skating rink is now open! Additional information and discounts can be found here.
A Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Carnival
From 6-11 PM on December 31st on Main Street, enjoy rides, games, karaoke, food, drinks and more! More information here.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season:
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
F/T and P/T avail. Must have a clean driving record, organized and have a prof appearance. Please call for an interview or email resume to Kerry@crystalpool.com. Must bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Call 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Coldwell Banker United, Realtors Welcome To Our Neighborhood! Work With The Best! CBCarolinas.com
Capital Kitchen & Bath One stop solution for all your remodeling & new construction needs. CAPITALKB.COM