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Old Main may not be meeting needs of the growing SJMC

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The oldest and one of the smallest buildings on campus currently houses a school nearly half of the students in the College of Fine Arts and Communication are enrolled in.

Since 2006, the student population of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication has increased from 1,660 to almost over 2,300 students, making it the largest school in the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

“(Old Main) is the best building on campus,” said Kym Fox, associate professor of practice and sequence coordinator. “I love this building. I would hate to ever leave this building, but that is an emotional reaction. I think, in the end, this building doesn’t meet our needs the way it once did.”

The growing SJMC has limited space to teach and work in Old Main, which is three stories high. Advising and faculty offices are located on the first floor. More offices and classrooms are located on the second and third floor, including the KTSW on-air studio.

“We seem to be in a time when many students are interested in mass communication in all it’s many forms from social media to the printed word,” said Michael Heintze, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

SJMC officials have implemented a variety of methods to consolidate and make better use of the space in Old Main, such as having large classes in teaching theaters in other buildings. Additionally, faculty offices are located in Lampasas Hall and the Trinity Building.

Classrooms in Old Main have been renovated into hybrid classrooms where computers are kept in desks and can be raised if necessary, transforming the classroom into a computer lab.

In the past, the University Star and KTSW offices were both housed in Old Main. As a result of the college’s growth, University Star offices were moved to the Trinity Building to allow for more classrooms and faculty offices in Old Main. In the fall semester, KTSW offices will also be relocated to the Trinity Building.

“We have a huge school. It just makes it hard to inhabit a space that only has, depending on how you count it, three or four classrooms and a few labs,” Fox said.

Moving KTSW offices will allow SJMC officials to convert nearly a quarter of the first floor and some space on the third into a new teaching space, a conference room and an open computer lab for students to work or lounge in.

Judy Oskam, director of the SJMC, said the move will free up space on the third floor of Old Main for additional offices.

As SJMC faculty shift focus to digital media skills needed in the career field, students need access to new technology and computer labs.

Renovations are schedules to begin in May and should be completed to hold classes by the fall semester.