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.”
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
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U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please 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. Cal 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com