Dear Alumni and Friends,
This Friday is the Experience Lab Ribbon Cutting. I don’t know if I can fully express how proud I am of our college as we prepare for this exciting event. Faculty, staff and students have dedicated an incredible amount of time and energy launching the Experience Lab this fall. Through all the confusion of Covid, curriculum changes and construction plans, they have been laser focused on our vision to be a leader in experiential journalism and mass communications education.
Chancellor Ronnie Green and our campus partners will be on hand for the ribbon cutting, along with our industry partners who will get to show off their creative designs in The Agency. Firespring, Bailey Lauerman, Swanson Russell, KidGlov, Maley Marketing, Agent, Pixel Bakery, OBI Creative and Revolution Wraps were all asked to design their sponsored space to look and feel like the culture of their organization. After all, the student who feels comfortable working at a conference table may not be comfortable working from a bean bag chair. I can’t wait for you to see their designs! I think we have a little good-natured creative competition brewing.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Phil Perry Family, we are also starting construction on a new photography studio and multimedia lab for The Agency. You’ll get to see the renderings on Friday. It will be a tight turnaround, but I’m still hoping we can have the Perry Studio ready for spring!
Speaking of studios, we will also be revealing the plans for our new integrated newsroom and television studio at the ribbon cutting on Friday. The Donald and Lorena Meier Studio will include three different sets (news, interview and virtual) with the newsroom in the center of all the action. We’re relocating eight faculty offices to open up the north wing of Andersen Hall under the third-floor balcony and down the hall from 90.3 KRNU. Whether the story is in print, online, on air or live streamed, the ethical pursuit of truth to uphold democracy will be at the center. We are grateful to the Donald and Lorena Meier Foundation and the Nebraska Broadcasters Association for funding the construction and equipment for the new studio.
While we are cleaning out our current second floor studio as part of the remodel, it won’t be empty for long. We’ll be adding a wall of TVs, all tuned in to sports, and lab space for the new Unlimited Sports Hub. A stand-up studio set and control desk will allow for live reporting from the Hub, and students from our fastest growing major, sports media and communication, will finally have dedicated space in Andersen Hall.
We are calling the event on Friday a ribbon cutting, but what we are doing is breaking new ground at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. We approved our strategic plan in May. By June, we were outlining the policies and procedures for the Experience Lab. By July, we were training our student leaders. By August, we signed the lease for The Agency and welcomed to campus 14 Professionals in Residence from The Omaha World-Herald, Seward County Independent, Nebraska Public Media, NRG Media, TRG Arts, KidGlov, Mentor Collective, Ameritas, Nelnet, Lincoln Channel 8 News, KLKN-TV, KMTV and 10/11 News.
By September, we secured the funding for Meier TV Studio, Perry Photo Studio and sponsorships for The Agency from Firespring, Bailey Lauerman, Swanson Russell, KidGlov, Maley Marketing, Agent, Pixel Bakery, OBI Creative and Revolution Wraps. This week we’ll publish the first issue of Heartland Webzine, and next month we’ll launch Nebraska Nightly. By the end of the semester, we’ll hire a new technical director and professors of practice in media production and advertising/public relations to continue to build our team.
We still have much work to do, but I am thrilled with the progress we have made already and humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement from across the college, campus and community. We are truly building something great here. Please let me know if you would like to learn more or help support our efforts. I’d love to hear from you!
Go Big Red!