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Scripps College of Communication holds Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication Celebration

Claire Berlin | Jun 12, 2017

Foundation Trustee Emeritus Steven L. Schoonover and his wife Renee Schoonover stand next to the newly installed plaque in the lobby of the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication during the celebration on June 8, 2017. / Photo by Ben Siegel

Scripps College of Communication holds Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication Celebration

By Claire Berlin

ATHENS, Ohio (June 12, 2017)—As part of its summer meeting, the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees gathered for a celebration of the state-of-the-art Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication on Thurs., June 8.

The celebration featured comments from several University representatives, including Scripps College of Communication Dean Scott Titsworth, Interim President David Descutner and Foundation Trustee Emeritus Steven L. Schoonover.  

The Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication, 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 transformational gift towards the construction of the facility in 2007. The $39 million construction and renovation project began Phase I in 2011 and Phase II was completed during fall 2015.

Schoonover Center now houses the five schools of the Scripps College of Communication—the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems, School of Communication Studies, School of Media Arts & Studies, the School of Visual Communication—and the WOUB Center for Public Media. The facility encourages interdisciplinary work among Scripps students, faculty and staff and elevates the quality of their scholarly and professional activities with state-of-the-art active learning classrooms, labs, centers, studios and other academic spaces. All Scripps College faculty and staff moved into the building by summer 2015.

“There is a lot to celebrate in this building,” said Titsworth during his welcome remarks. “With five schools under one roof, we are now able to engage with our students in brand new ways—ways not possible when we were spread out in many buildings across campus. We are so grateful to all who supported this endeavor, none more than Steve Schoonover.”

Titsworth honored key donors of the building project and welcomed the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees as the board kicked off its Athens-based meeting. The last time that the board met in Athens during the summer months was July 2001.

Titworth talked about the facility and its effect on student learning. He also noted the positive energy of students working in many of the high tech labs and spaces in the center.

“We could not be happier with the space, and more importantly, our students are benefiting from the labs, classrooms and easy access to faculty and staff that the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication provides,” said Titsworth.

Interim President Dr. David Descutner thanked Schoonover for his philanthropy and what it has meant for the students, faculty and staff of the college.

“You are a visionary donor. You imagined what could be, and you’ve made this University and this college a different place, a place that is forward looking,” said Descutner.

Foundation Trustee Emeritus Steven L. Schoonover gave a few comments about his philanthropic endeavors at OHIO and the positive impact that his parents and his time at the University had on his life. He also thanked his wife Renee Schoonover, his children, Barbara Geralds and all those that helped make the Schoonover Center project a reality.

“We are totally committed to Ohio University,” said Schoonover. “We have a future here. We have a country in turmoil for many reasons and communications is the answer and we have the place and we have the people. We can make a difference at this University.”

Schoonover remarked that his first gift to the University was $10 in 1968 and since then it has turned into millions. He emphasized the importance of providing a quality education and instilling the philanthropic spirit into current OHIO students so that they can one day donate to the University and invest in the next group of scholars.

After Schoonover’s remarks, attendees were split into groups and taken on a guided tour of the facilities. Tours visited key spaces for each school as well as making a stop at the active learning classroom 450 to see current GRID Lab projects. More than 85 individuals attended the event, including three Ohio University presidents: OHIO’s 20th President Dr. Roderick J. McDavis, Interim President Dr. David Descutner and OHIO’s 21st President Dr. Duane Nellis. First Lady Ruthie Nellis was also present.

“I think now the facilities match the national reputation of the Scripps College of Communication,” said McDavis.

In addition to the modern classrooms and labs, the Schoonover Center received LEED Gold certification for Phase II of the construction project. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system that is gaining momentum within institutions of higher education, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The project is OHIO’s first LEED Gold certified.

In addition, more than 30 percent of the project’s materials contained recycled content, almost 50 percent of materials were manufactured in the region, and the project diverted more than 75 percent of construction waste from going to a landfill.

Sandra J. Anderson, BSC 75, who served on the Dean’s Advisory Council and Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees with Steve Schoonover, also invested in the building project with a gift that named the Dean’s conference room on the main floor.  The Sandra J. Anderson Conference Room offers a large meeting space that includes a video wall for presentations. The wall is made of nine 46-inch panels that can be controlled remotely by a Crestron touch pad.

Anderson said that during her time on the Dean’s Advisory Council she could “remember the college’s dream of being in one place, as opposed to scattered all over campus.”

As the planning and fundraising began for the new home of the college, a proposal was made to Anderson about naming a conference room after her.

“The Scripps College of Communication truly changed my life, transformed my life, in particular the forensics team and the debates and individual events team,” said Anderson. “The Scripps College of Communication set me on my life’s path, and, of course, I had to give back to the college in some way.”

A few of the highlights of the Schoonover Center for Communication include:

  •  The Harris Student Support Center is a resource available to all Scripps College of Communication students and offers a variety of free student services.
  • Schoonover Auditorium hosts events and class lectures and has more than 270 seats and ADA accessible spaces.
  • The COMS Research Lab is a space designed to study how individuals and small groups communicate verbally and non-verbally with one another.
  • A VisCom lab space accommodates a 12-foot-by-12-foot cyclorama wall used for photography shoots.
  • ITS Labs and the Data Center allow students to progressively learn a foundation of technology and software.
  • Schoonover Center 450 is a flipped conference room and active learning classroom that boasts three large screens in addition to 16 small screens, one for each table in the room, for dynamic presentations and group work.
  • The Communication Resource Center allows students to practice reciting speeches before performing them in front of an audience.
  • The International Lounge encompasses many of the Scripps College of Communication’s accomplishments within international research, communications and scholarly partnerships.
  • Specialized MDIA labs and facilities teach students how to use the tools of the trade, from software to audio equipment.
  • Lasher Learning Center offers a quiet study or group meeting space for students and contains the journalism school’s Bloomberg Terminal.
  • The VisCom Gallery hosts artwork and exhibits from students, faculty and visiting professionals.

In addition to Steve Schoonover’s lead gift, the center would not be possible without generous gifts from other supporters. Additional donors who have named spaces in the Steven L. Schoonover Center for Communication include: Hebah Ahmed Abdalla; Sandra J. Anderson; Joseph Berman; June Martinick Farrell; Leon and Dawn Harris; Henry Heilbrunn; Lyon Video; W. Lawrence and Susan K. Patrick; Smith & Patricia Schuneman; Weiss-Mulgrew Family; and John and Candace Wolfzorn.

For more information about named spaces in the Schoonover Center for Communication or giving to the Scripps College of Communication, please contact Robin Stock at (740)597-9019 or

For more information on the Ohio University Scripps College of Communication, visit

To see photos from the Schoonover Center celebration, visit

Click here to watch a short highlight video of the Schoonover Center Celebration.