September 21, 2019

School of Communications plans future expansion

By Tiffany Woods

Major renovations are in store for the Sverdrup building after the completion of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, when the building will be left solely to the School of Communications.
“It’s not a remodeling, but rather a transformation,” said Dean of Communications Debra Carpenter. “It will be transformational both for students and our media programs.”
The tentative plans for Sverdrup include the creation of what Carpenter describes as hubs, or centers of activity.
The first hub is a news center which would include Webster’s media organizations — Gorlok TV, The Galaxy, The Journal and The Ampersand — would all have their own space together in the hub.
Located in the second center would be a student communications agency.  A student agency, which does not currently exist at Webster, would help students work professionally in the community.
“It’s a way for students to gain professionalism and portfolio work, and would be good for the community as well,” Carpenter said.
The third planned hub would host an office to assist students with internships and portfolios.
Carpenter said she sees the changes as a chance to modernize and display the creativity and ingenuity of the department, in addition to providing more space for students.
“The thing we are most excited about on the advising board is more programs and more space,” said SOC advising board chair Charlie Claggett, who is also the vice president of marketing with Warson Brand.  “(Students) won’t have to learn in closets.  More space will allow the SOC to offer more programs, make more available to the students.”
Carpenter said the SOC moved into Sverdrup in 1987 with 225 students. It is now home to 1,500 students, spanning Webster’s global campuses, but remains in the same building.
With added space, each program within the SOC will have room not only to grow, but to work with each other more efficiently.
“The main thing is that technology doesn’t allow us to separate our majors anymore,” Carpenter said.  “That’s what I want represented in the building.  There’s no wall between these majors, they all overlap.”
Claggett believes Webster’s willingness to embrace trends in the communications industries, such as the merging of the fields and the increased globalization of the business is to the benefit of the students.
“I do think the communications field is exploding and it’s very exciting, especially for young people who are really tuned in,” Claggett said.
Nothing is yet official.  Until an architect is hired for the project, there are no set plans or budget and current ideas are subject to change.
“It’s exciting, but we don’t have the go-ahead quite yet,” Carpenter said. “However, the business building is a visual reminder it’s coming soon.”
Students are encouraged to voice their opinions and be a part of the planning process.
“We’ll have meetings where everyone will have a chance to share ideas,” Carpenter said.  “I want to hear from students, make sure they get engaged.”

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