by Robert Stewart, Director; Professor
This is the season for bidding farewell. Faculty bid farewell to graduating seniors, seniors bid farewell to campus and classmates and yes, to their days as college students. It’s all bittersweet, especially as we prepare ourselves to bid farewell to dear old Scripps Hall.
Not that we aren’t watching with anticipation as the Schoonover Center for Communication is nearing completion for an August move-in. Yes, Schoonover is quite a sight to behold, and holds much promise.
I was thinking about these matters when I wrote the following paragraphs for a column in our alumni newsletter. The same column will appear more or less word-for-word in the next issue of the Ohio Journalist magazine and in a special 90th anniversary magazine.
So many reasons make this an historic year for the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. We’re celebrating 90 years of journalism education at Ohio University, which obviously is remarkable in its own right. But in many ways, such an anniversary is just an arbitrary number that happens to end in zero. Still, the nine in front of that zero means we’ve been around a long, long time, doing what we do and what our predecessors did: Teach students how to do journalism at the highest level.
As you might expect, we’ve celebrated our 90 year history this year, giving shout-outs to some of the giants: George Starr Lasher, L.J. Hortin, John R. Wilhelm, and the like. But I actually think the more historic aspects of this year have more to do with what’s happening in the here and now:
• This is the first year we’ve been on semesters since the late 1960s.
• It’s the first year of our new two-track curriculum.
• And it is our last year to occupy Scripps Hall.
Much has been written and said about our transition to semesters, our new curriculum, and our move into a soon-to-be refurbished “Old Baker Center” — let’s agree to call it by its new moniker: Schoonover Center for Communication. I still hear the occasional whimper (especially from alumni) about our move from Scripps Hall, as if we are being evicted and thrown out onto Court Street. Let me try to frame the move another way: 2012-13 is our last year of being one of several isolated outposts of the Scripps College of Communication.
When I joined the faculty in 1987, the journalism school had just moved into Scripps Hall. And for the most part, it hasn’t lost any of its luster in the 26+ years we’ve occupied it. But in some ways, we’ve been an island. The same can be said for just about all of the schools in the College of Communication. The only difference is that Scripps Hall is posh, even swanky, which no doubt has fed feelings of great pride in the school. But sometimes that swagger was perceived as arrogance by others across the campus and in our own college.
Don’t get me wrong, I am enormously proud of the school, including its history, our current students, faculty, and alumni. We share an important bond in being associated with the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. But I do believe that our students and faculty will only benefit from working with other students and faculty in the Scripps College of Communication. Moving into the Schoonover Center for Communication will help us realize these benefits in meaningful, important ways. Indeed, the times call for such integration. And at various times in the 90 year history of the school, we’ve been housed with other programs on campus, at one time with offices in Copeland Hall, RTVC, and the long-since demolished Ewing Hall.
But beginning in the mid-1970s when the school moved into Lasher Hall, where it remained until the 1986 move to Scripps Hall, we’ve stood alone. Perhaps during that forty year span we were well-served by this geographic reality. And certainly, “Fortress Scripps” has been a marvelous, even magical home. But the faculty is looking forward to the change, which will result in colleagues from all the other schools in our college being just down the hall or up the staircase (or elevator).
Scripps Hall will have many special memories. To remind us of the justifiable pride we all have felt in our Scripps Hall “home,” we’ll hang a panoramic photo of the building and adjoining amphitheater in the entryway to our 2nd floor digs in the Schoonover Center. But now it’s time to move — across campus, and into our new world that will bring us closer to the other disciplines in the Scripps College of Communication. And yes, it’s historic.
On Friday, April 26 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., we’re holding a Farewell to Scripps Hall event. It’s a celebration of all the goodness that Scripps Hall has wrought for journalism education at Ohio University. The many, many fond memories of learning and teaching, advising and consulting, collaborating and late-night meeting, yes, all of the above. We’ll have music, refreshments, and the beautiful panoramic photo taken by OU photographer Ben Siegel, ready to sign by students, alumni, faculty, and friends.
Soon enough the students will head home — the seniors to start new lives, the others to do internships. Faculty will begin packing up their offices in earnest, and then we’ll move.
Farewell, Scripps Hall. We promise to visit often.