Co-curriculars to share common home after decades apart
The on-air studio for 91.1FM The Globe, WGCS — which has been named best collegiate radio station in the country three times — is at the top of narrow, winding stairs in the college’s Union Building, just past a 50-year-old UPI teletype machine.
The studio for Globe TV, which more than once has edged out Ball State for statewide honors, is tucked away in the basement of the college’s Good Library, sharing a building with patrons who are focused on writing research papers and checking out books.
And the newsroom for The Goshen College Record, honored as the best newspaper in the state in the college division two of the past three years, is through a recessed doorway, hidden between Kulp residence hall and the Westlawn Cafeteria.
The communication department’s media enterprises, which for decades have been spread out and curtained off across the Goshen College campus, are about to converge in a new communication center in the west wing of Newcomer Center on the south end of campus, which formerly housed Mennonite Church USA Archives.
President Rebecca Stoltzfus, who identified finding a home for communication as a strategic priority shortly after her inauguration in early 2018, announced the building plans at an all-employee retreat in August.
This is the second building project during her tenure, both timed for the start of a school year. In September, the Union re-opened after an eight-month renovation, now home to the Hunsberger Commons, which features the Hunsberger Haitian Art Collection, and the refurbished Leaf Raker Cafe.
Several generous donors gave lead gifts that have made it possible to begin the $1.18 million building project, while fundraising continues for equipment, furnishings and an endowment benefiting the department, said Todd Yoder, the vice president for institutional advancement.
The communication center is scheduled to open in August of 2020. For the first time, WGCS, on the air since 1958, will deliver its broadcasts from outside the Union, as the station moves, UPI teletype machine and all, to Newcomer.
Jason Samuel, who chose to attend Goshen College in 1988 in large part because of WGCS and climbed those station steps every semester, returned to serve as general manager and a professor in 2003.
“Thirty years of memories seem so fresh now,” he said. “I think of all the students, faculty and staff who put their hearts into WGCS over that time. Most of our co-curriculars predate the communication department, making this our first collective home after more than 60 years of separation. This new communication center will position Goshen College as an educational and industry leader.”
A television studio will be next door to the radio studio, and a newsroom will be right down the hall. The Newcomer Center wing will include offices for student leaders, a lounge and a meeting room. Faculty will remain nearby in their current offices.
The Goshen College chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America will be engaged in all the enterprises, as it manages social media, events and more. Pat Lehman, a longtime professor of communication, established the chapter in 2012.
“I am excited about the synergy which will happen as students and co-curriculars are all connected in the same location and creative ideas for projects and stories can be easily and immediately shared,” Lehman said.
The west wing of Newcomer Center had housed Mennonite Church archives since 1959. In 2017, the church moved the archives to the Mennonite Church USA offices in Elkhart. Mennonite Historical Library and Goshen College archival materials, which were also stored in Newcomer, have recently been moved to other locations on campus in anticipation of the renovation.
Kyle Hufford, an associate professor of communication and general manager of FiveCore Media Productions, was the first person to see the Newcomer Center wing as a potential home for the department.
“Collaboration is one of the most important skills we teach our students how to do,” Hufford said. “This new space will give us a place where this can happen organically and more effectively. It will be the home that our department has dreamed about for a long time. I cannot wait to have this space available for students next year.”
Construction on the project, encompassing 3,700 square feet, is expected to begin this winter and DJ Construction, based in Goshen, has been selected as the general contractor.
Ann Vendrely, the academic dean, convened a project steering committee that meets biweekly and includes Glenn Gilbert, the director of facilities; Paul Housholder, the associate director of ITS; Deanna Risser, vice president for finance; Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication and chair of the communication department; and Todd Yoder.
“We can already glimpse the ways in which this dedicated space will transform communication at Goshen, especially the college experiences and contributions of our students,” said Duane Stoltzfus, who also serves as adviser to The Record. “In this Newcomer Center wing, we hope joy and learning will meet up on the way toward educational excellence.”