New Journalism Home Celebrates Grand Opening

Return to Issue of March 24, 2008 

The grand opening of Franklin Hall celebrates the completion of a $21 million restoration project, providing students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) with a new state-of-the-art facility that enhances the quality of their education and helps prepare them for jobs in a fast-changing media environment.

As part of Kent State’s Centennial Celebration, a grand opening and open house are scheduled for Friday, April 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Franklin Hall. Alumni and others throughout the Kent State community are invited to attend. The event is free, but a reservation is required by April 4 by contacting Kent State’s Office of Donor Relations at 330-672-2899 or via e-mail at

Franklin Hall originally was constructed in 1926 as the first University School.

Franklin Hall was constructed in 1926 at a cost of $350,000 and served as the first University School. Originally named after William A. Cluff, the secretary of the university’s Board of Trustees, the building was renamed in 1956 based on the city of Kent’s first name, Franklin Mills.

When the building housed the teacher training program, it also served as a grade school and high school facility for local community students. Former Kent State occupants also have included the College of Business Administration (from 1956-72), African Theatre Arts, Fiber Arts, Resource Analysis and Planning, Northeast Ohio Employee Ownership Center, University Press, Wellness Center and Faculty Senate.

Construction for the new Franklin Hall, the last building on the university’s north campus to be renovated, began in 2005. Demolition started with the building’s interior, which was completely gutted, and new construction began with a 20,000-square-foot addition. More than two years later, classes resumed in the building for Fall Semester 2007.

In recognition of Franklin Hall’s unique role in the Kent community’s history, a special event will invite alumni of the former University School, as well as Kent business and community leaders, to explore the new facility on April 24. Additional details about this program will be announced soon.

The event will be broadcast live throughout the newly renovated building’s various classrooms from the First Energy Auditorium. Hosts include Kent State President Lester A. Lefton; Dr. James L. Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information; Jeffrey Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication; and other members of the university administration.

The theme of the grand opening — “Franklin. Finally.” — spotlights JMC as a program with national influence and stature. Fully accredited, the school serves more than 1,000 undergraduate majors and offers degrees in magazine, news, broadcast and visual journalism; electronic media production; public relations; and advertising.

Through the renovation, the school blends traditional journalistic values with cutting-edge technology, all designed to allow students to move seamlessly from the educational to workplace environment. “It’s a bridge building, designed to take a student from the conventions of an education process into the real world,” says architect Ron Reed.

The move also means that, for the first time in the school’s history, the print and broadcast programs of JMC (which merged in 1987 but were separately located in Taylor Hall and the Music and Speech Center) are housed under the same roof, an important factor in the school’s continued accreditation process.

The highlights of the new facility include:

  • Wireless connectivity throughout the entire building;
  • Six flat screen televisions in the lobby;
  • State-of-the-art classroom audio/visual equipment, valued at $600,000;
  • A $2.5 million, digital, high-definition broadcast studio with “virtual sets” rendered in three dimensions — the only studio in the state of Ohio to use this software;
  • Integrated camera locations throughout the building that can feed live video to the studio; and
  • A converged newsroom in which four different student media organizations —the Daily Kent Stater, Black Squirrel Radio, TV2 and The Burr Magazine — can work side by side on story development and execution.

The project has been recognized as an effort to cultivate Kent-area businesses and was awarded by the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce with one of four Immy Awards.

The school hopes to see increased enrollment thanks to the unique experiences available to students in the new facility. That could ideally lead to more faculty and expanded programs in the future.

For more information about the grand opening of Franklin Hall and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, please visit the JMC Web site.

By Melody Wachowski, with additional information from the Spring 2008 issue of Jargon, the alumni newsletter of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Celebrate Centennial

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