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Monday, October 26, 2020

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Valenti renovations on schedule to meet May deadline


The north face of the Valenti School of Communication building will provide the school with more production space. | Paris Jomadiao/The Daily Cougar

The ongoing construction at the Valenti School of Communication building has faculty and staff discussing the transpiring new look and the amount of time it is taking to complete.

Beth Olson, director of the School of Communication, said that quite a few things will be added to the building.

“The biggest square footage component is the second studio, which is the big center block piece you see going up on the Northeast corner,” Olson said. “The other major change will be a distinct entry to the building that identifies who we are and what we do.”

For this upcoming change to the building, room repositioning will have to take place.

“Because we’re losing so much footage there, we’re reorienting the administrative room and we will reposition things so that there’s a reception desk that faces the corridor,” Olson said.

“Graphics and new corners will also be included in the reception area for a warmer welcome to students, and it will be quite a change,” she said.

Olson explained how the construction project became possible due to help from donor Lance Funston and others.

“We began a multi-year fundraising effort in 2008 and, in a very short amount of time, raised more than $3 million,” Olson said.

The budget for construction was $2.2 million dollars and the remainder of the money has been given to scholarship funds, Olson said.

“We’ve done the usual fundraising campaigns that the University does,” she said. “We’ve been successful with big name donors, alumni, friends of Jack Valenti and foundations.”

Funston pledged $1.5 million and administration was able to match that amount.

“We continue to work through those avenues for additional support,” Olson said.

Olson acknowledges that many adjunct and clinical instructors do not have offices, but that is because they are considered part-time.

“I’m sure you’ll find that no one on campus has a lot of space, it’s a huge issue,” she said. “Also, no renovation project is really designed to make sure that every part-time faculty person has an office space, that never really would have been the intention. Structural space is more important.”

The new space may not seem to constitute a large addition, but not enough money was raised to push out the wall of the building.

Olson said the addition of the new studio was in part because Funston has a media production background.

From a student’s point of view regarding the construction project, public relations junior Carolyn Moynahan has no complaints.

“Since the campus is growing, new renovations will be good for the School of Communication,” she said. “At first I thought the construction would take forever but from what I see, it looks like it’s going along.

“I see the construction men consistently working and I believe the renovations will be done by May.”

Olson also has reassuring words in regards to the project and insists work crews are sticking to the May 2011 completion date.

“We knew it was going to be a nine month project,” she said. “It’s been on schedule since the start day.”

Director of Communication Shannon Buggs, who experienced renovations at her own home, sympathizes with students and faculty who take issue with the construction, but defends the project.

“I think you can’t have a construction project without anyone saying it’s taking too long,” Buggs said in jest before addressing how a few months of construction woes will pay off.

“This really exciting project is happening here at the School of Communication,” Buggs said. “And it’s giving a very high program here at the college a high quality building to function in, which is extremely important to the overall development of our students.”

No matter what inconveniences the construction or lack of space is causing for those on campus, Buggs hopes that people will take the time to see the growth that is happening with the project.

“It’s always those incremental steps that really are going to get us to that Tier One status,” she said. “We (school administration) are taking the time to develop a first-class building for first-class students and instructors.

And the school is doing it in a way that does not require a large amount of money, Buggs said.

“This is a renovation, rather than building straight from scratch,” Buggs said. “And I just think that this is one of the big highlights of what we are doing in terms of this particular college getting our facilities and our students at that level where we need them to be.”


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