IU dedicates Franklin Hall as new home of Media School

The Media School Report • Sept. 28, 2016

President Michael McRobbie
The rededication ceremony featured a speech by President Michael McRobbie. (Chaz Mottinger | IU Communications)

IU formally re-dedicated Franklin Hall as the home of The Media School in ceremonies featuring President Michael McRobbie and other IU dignitaries, including members of the IU Board of Trustees, Tuesday afternoon in Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall.

“We’re here in this state-of-the-art home of The Media School, a historic and iconic landmark of the Old Crescent,” McRobbie said. “Today, we officially mark its role as home to one of IU’s newest schools.”

For more than a year, workers gutted and renovated Franklin Hall, built as a library in 1907 and converted to offices after the Wells Library was built in 1969. Today, the building features a glass skylight that illuminates a commons area, the centerpiece of which is a 24-foot-by-12-foot TV screen. Focus on technology extends to the Beckley Studio, a cutting-edge production facility, and classrooms outfitted with large screens to interact with student laptops and tablets, among other features.

“The magnificently renovated building we celebrate today is now an appropriate home for The Media School as it continues to grow,” McRobbie said of the school, launched in 2014 and comprising the established journalism, telecommunications and film studies programs at IU. “This 109-year-old building is now home to state-of-the-art technologies that provide our students and faculty with the resources they need to meet the evolving challenges of today’s media landscape.”

Founding Media School Dean James Shanahan talked about student experiences, including the use of the commons TV screen, which has become a location for students to watch and critique everything from soccer broadcasts to political debates.

“Entering the building, you see a transition from wood paneled chambers to airy space dominated by two things: a magnificent screen and students who have made the place their home, congregating and experiencing things together,” he said. “This is the living room of campus.”

From left: Joe Buck and President Michael McRobbie
President Michael McRobbie, right, presented sports broadcaster Joe Buck, left, with an honorary doctorate degree at the rededication ceremony. (Chaz Mottinger | IU Communications)

During the ceremony, Fox broadcaster Joe Buck, who attended IU in the late ’80s and early ’90s, was awarded an honorary doctorate. In his remarks, he recalled registering for classes in what is now Presidents Hall, attending classes and taking advantage of a job offer in St. Louis that prompted him to leave IU for a professional career at age 20.

“Picking IU was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” said Buck, who won his first of seven Emmys as a play-by-play broadcaster in 2000 and has been nominated almost every year, receiving the honor again most recently in 2014. “I’m proud to say I went here, too.”

Buck arrived at Franklin Hall a bit earlier in the day and took time to record some promos for IU in the school’s new Beckley Studio, which he pronounced “fantastic.” He also watched and chatted with current students eager to meet the sports broadcasting veteran.

Students from IUSTV
Students from IUSTV watched their first newscast of the year on the big screen in the Franklin Hall commons. The screen was used to showcase the different kinds of student media in Franklin Hall. (Taylor Haggerty | The Media School)

“There have never been more opportunities for students,” Buck said. “It’s unbelievable how good young people are at what I’ve spent my life doing or watched my dad (sportscast legend Jack Buck) do. I can’t tell you how big of a weapon it is to have this facility here.”

Touring the building

After the ceremony, attendees filled the commons area for cookies sporting a Media School logo, and many toured the building directed by Media School ambassadors and staff.

Annabeth Pfafflin
Annabeth Pfafflin, an employee at VPS Architecture, tried out the green screen in the Ken and Audrey Beckley Studio. Pfafflin works at VPS Architecture, the firm that oversaw Franklin Hall’s renovations. (Taylor Haggerty | The Media School)

Some, including Ken Beckley himself, took the chance to stand in front of the green screen in the Ken and Audrey Beckley Studio to deliver a mock weather report. The green screen provides a neutral background so that graphics can be displayed behind the speaker. Others walked through the game lab and visited the student media offices.

“The university did a wonderful job renovating the building,” said former Herald-Times publisher Mayer Maloney. “They did particularly well preserving the older parts of the building and bringing them back to life.”

Annabeth Pfafflin, of the VPS Architecture team that oversaw the renovations, said she was amazed by the ceremony and proud of the final results of her work.

“We work on these projects for years,” Pfafflin said, “so to see it finally come to fruition is very satisfying and exciting.”

George Vlahakis, senior news and media specialist at IU, is a 1985 graduate of the journalism program.

From left: Audrey and Ken Beckley
From left, Audrey and Ken Beckley stopped by the studio that bears their name. Their donation funded the state-of-the-art production studio. (Chaz Mottinger | IU Communications)

“As someone who spent many hours as a student at Ernie Pyle Hall, I really appreciate how this program brings everything together and shows how fitting it is to have a Media School here,” he said. “Franklin Hall was the home of knowledge, and now our students are creating knowledge.”

The tours were self-guided, allowing guests to take their time viewing the building and everything it has to offer. Several recent graduates explored what had come to replace the buildings they had attended classes in throughout their college careers.

“I’m kind of jealous,” said Lindsay Wimmer, BAJ’10. “It’s such a nice building, and the technology is going to be life-changing for the students. I wish I could come back and be a student all over again.”

— reported by Taylor Haggerty and Zoe Spilker

Chatting over ice cream

Franklin Hall commons
Guests at the rededication celebration toured the new facilities following the ceremony. Many of them gathered in the commons area to admire the 24-foot TV screen. (Chaz Mottinger | IU Communications)

After the rededication ceremony and tours, people strolled outside for an ice cream social in Dunn Meadow. Students, faculty and special guests mingled and networked over ice cream from the Chocolate Moose.

“During the self tour, everyone was just blown away by the screen, the studio and the technology,” said Media School Ambassador Carrie Latimer. “And now we get Chocolate Moose, so what else can you ask for?”

As Media School Dean James Shanahan enjoyed fresh vanilla ice cream, he took a minute to respond to a reporter.

“Tell everyone I said a huge thank you,” he said. “It was a great turnout altogether.”

— reported by Sarah Peters

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View the archived stream of the ceremony.