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OHIO’s Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication now open

Dec 10, 2013

OHIO’s Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication now open

Scripps College of Communication begins occupancy of new building

By Erin Roberts

ATHENS, Ohio (Dec. 10, 2013)—The state-of-the-art Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication is now open to the public on the main campus of Ohio University in Athens. Phase I of construction concluded late last month, and occupancy began Dec. 9.

“The Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication is a dream more than 15 years in the making,” said Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication. “By summer 2015, the entire college will come together under one roof for the first time ever, and we will welcome students in classes fall semester of that year.”

The building, which sits on the site of the former Baker Center, is named for Steven L. Schoonover, a 1967 graduate of the Scripps College of Communication who made a $7.5-million lead gift towards the construction of the facility in 2007. Schoonover, an Ohio University trustee, visited the building last month while on campus. 

Schoonover has said his inspiration for the gift was to give Ohio University the tools to make the Scripps College of Communication one of the top programs in the country.

"The Schoonover Center for Communication will allow the five schools spread all over campus the opportunity to be located together so they can provide a cohesive effort to educate our students in the rapidly changing communication field,” he said. "I can't emphasize enough the importance of all the schools working together so students will appreciate the dynamics of media convergence and the concept of the different disciplines combining to produce a communication product."

Once fully completed, the Schoonover Center will feature a 250-seat auditorium, a 130-seat active learning laboratory and galleries for faculty and student work. The public spaces in the building have been designed with the idea that students can collaborate on projects and interact with each other in cross-disciplinary ways. The building has LEED-certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building or community meets green standards.

The Dean’s Office staff moved into the building Dec. 9, followed by the School of Media Arts and Studies faculty and staff on Dec. 10. Next week, faculty and staff of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism will also move in. The final schools—the School of Communication Studies, the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunications Systems and the School of Visual Communication—will move in as various stages of Phase II construction allow for occupancy.

“From top to bottom, Schoonover Center has been designed to promote collaboration,” explained Titsworth. “Students and faculty from our various schools will be able to collaborate on scholarly projects, visit each others’ classes and engage in informal dialogue about the field. There is no question that our unification inside Schoonover Center will take the work of our college to the next level of excellence.”

Samantha Byrne, a senior health communication major in the School of Communication Studies with a specialization area in management and marketing, is impressed with the building and said she would have liked more time as a student to enjoy the facility.

“I love this! I really like it because it offers Scripps students a place other than Alden Library to study and meet with others,” she said. “I feel like there will now be more open communication among students and faculty alike because we’ll all be in the same building. I’m very sad I won’t be able to utilize the space longer, and I wish this had been a reality when I was a freshman.”

The building is now open to the public, and the university community is invited to come relax by the two-sided fireplace in Schoonover’s main lounge. The fireplace was a cherished fixture in the former Baker Center and has been reimagined. 

“We look forward to carrying on the tradition of Ohio University on this historical site,” said Dean Titsworth. “The Scripps College of Communication, a Center of Excellence in the state of Ohio, will add to the university’s character through excellence in teaching, research, creative activity and through building on innovation and other contributions to the field of communication in the coming years in this world-class facility.”