Center for Communication Studies opens in Newcomer Building

The Center for Communication Studies, the communication department’s new home in the west wing of Newcomer Center, was completed in time for the start of the school year in August.

After decades of being spread out across campus  –  from the basement of the library to the Hub in Kulp Hall to the Union’s attic  –  the department’s co-curriculars are joined together in a state-of-the-art facility.

» See photos of the Center for Communication Studies

When was the official opening? One might make a case for 2 p.m. on Friday, July 31, when WGCS, better known as 91.1 the Globe, went live from Newcomer for the first time. Just as he had when the college changed its format from classical to Americana music in 2004, Jason Samuel, the general manager, played Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and then went on the air with a historic announcement.

Zack Begley (right) and Jeremiah Sherrill broadcast from 91.1 (WGCS) The Globe’s new studio in the Newcomer Center.

Stuart Showalter, who served as department chair in the 1980s and 1990s, wrote from Harrisonburg, Virginia, to say: “I’m listening to Goshen College. . . . Great song choice, Jason.”

Or the opening might be pegged to Aug. 18, when students returned to classes, two weeks early because of changes made in light of the coronavirus. The department is also planning a virtual celebration on Saturday, Oct. 3, as part of Homecoming Weekend.

Or one might say the center was completed the first week in August, when DJ Construction, which transformed the space from historical archives into a media complex, finished the last assignment: installing dimmers for the lights in Rooms 24 and 25.

As Deanna Risser, the vice president for finance, said, both DJ Construction and Goshen College’s longtime director of facilities, Glenn Gilbert, agreed that “this was a very successful project, completed on time and within budget, even in the midst of a pandemic.”

The $1.4 million project delivers a 3,700-foot facility that includes a radio studio with a 9-by-6-foot set of windows overlooking the Beck Memorial Garden; a TV studio, with a set in the making, designed by Kyle Hufford, associate professor; a newsroom with a “dogbone” central desk modeled after one that communication professor Duane Stoltzfus admired in The Washington Post’s office; a trophy wall; an 86-inch video screen; a conference table shaped from a hardwood trunk; a huddle room; and stools where students can enjoy a view of the lawn.

While the center includes the latest in audio and video technology, history was not forgotten.

Danielle Pagoria, an administrative assistant whose training is in interior design, guided many decisions in colors, furniture and unique touches, linking the old and the new.

U.P.I. teletype machine

For example, the U.P.I. teletype machine that was parked at the top of the stairs outside the WGCS station holds a prominent place in the lobby. Nearby is a desk that belonged to Lina Zook Ressler, an editor at the Mennonite Publishing House and instructor in the early 1900s at the Elkhart Institute, the forerunner to Goshen College. The desk is on loan from the Mennonite Historical Society.

The department and development office are also developing plans to thank the donors whose gifts financed the Center for Communication Studies. Their names will be listed in a plaque installed by the lobby.

The renovation of the wing was made possible by a lead gift from Joe ’62 and Tami Zehr, from Fort Wayne, Ind. Other transformational gifts came Don and Jody Smith, of San Diego; Stuart and Shirley Showalter, of Harrisonburg, Va.; and Dale ’78 and Kay ’77 Kempf, of Libertyville, Ill.

“Our Communication Department makes us proud each year — not only our outstanding faculty, but the many students who bring to life The Record, 99.1 The Globe, Globe TV and FiveCore Media,” President Rebecca Stoltzfus said. “I am thrilled to see them in a new facility that is on par with their excellence.”

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. The last of Mennonite Historical Library and Goshen College archival materials, which were also stored in Newcomer, were moved to other locations on campus in February.

The steering committee for the project included Ann Vendrely, the academic dean; Glenn Gilbert, who retired this summer as director of facilities; Paul Housholder, the associate director of ITS; Deanna Risser, vice president for finance; Todd Yoder, vice president for development; and Duane Stoltzfus, department chair.

President 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 of 2019.

A year later, the Center for Communication Studies is in place for a program that has won national and statewide awards in radio, television and journalism, including Indiana’s Radio School of the Year, TV School of the Year and Newspaper of the Year.

“We are thrilled to have a department home,” Duane Stoltzfus said. “We’re looking forward to enjoying this collaborative space. There are songs to play, games to broadcast, stories to cover, speeches to deliver. It’s a very good time to be in communication.”