When Mercyhurst University unveils its new Center for Media Convergence this fall, it will be more than just an upgrade to the building’s aesthetics — the center will strengthen interdisciplinary learning while integrating more opportunities for students to engage in real industry practices.
Located in the Audrey Hirt Academic Center, the facility is five years in the making and will include a multimedia center that combines The Merciad and Laker TV into one space, a conference room, a new lounge in the lower-level lobby and a renovated graphic design studio.
“We wanted to create a space that draws students in,” said Meghan Waskiewicz, chair of the communication department. “We also wanted the majors housed in this new center to have a physical presence that they can call ‘home’ and to feel inspired when they walk into the space. This project transpired out of a need for more adequate facilities to emulate what is true of the industry right now.”
The new center will be named in honor of Trustee Emeritus Myron Jones, who began a career in radio, but is better known as one of the original owners of WJET-TV in Erie. Referred to by Msgr. David Rubino, Ph.D., as a “pioneer,” the decision to honor Jones was made to celebrate his lifelong career and the impact he made as an industry leader.
“Myron was clearly a pioneer in radio and television, but he was also a pioneer in the ethics of broadcasting; he was a man of high ethical standards,” said Rubino. “He knew the industry inside and out, including the delivery and production of broadcast and the technical side of things. I think he makes a great role model for our students who will study in this center.”
The central location of the new hub will be in the space formerly occupied by the university’s student-newspaper, The Merciad. The old newsroom will be transformed into a conference room where students can hold meetings, work collaboratively and meet with real clients who have engaged them to work on projects.
The Laker TV studio will also accommodate The Merciad, a move that will fuel interdisciplinary collaboration and learning. A partial wall will separate broadcast from print journalism, but will allow the two to work concurrently.
In addition, Laker TV is getting new lighting, a new editing board and new media equipment, which will upgrade the studio’s former analog equipment to cameras with 4K capabilities and put the studio on par with the industry. Laker TV currently broadcasts on local Erie cable through Time Warner.
The lobby of Hirt will be converted into a lounge to foster inspiration and creativity. The addition of trendy and comfortable furniture, artwork reflective of the different majors and display cases to showcase student work and awards are expected to bring warmth to the space.
Design plans for the new lounge were created by Christine Barber '10, currently an assistant for the interior design department, who began this project as a junior interior design major.
“As the graphic design lab assistant to Professor Jodi Staniunas Hopper, I was asked to design the space, incorporating the students’ needs,” said Barber. “The majors that use this space are all represented. There are a few surprises that everyone will have to see when it’s finished this fall.”
Lastly, contractors will address design issues in the graphic design lab. The space isn’t conducive to teaching, said Waskiewicz, who explained that the sole access to a faculty member’s office on the far side of the lab causes disruptions to classes when in session. Rearranging the room and erecting a dividing wall will eliminate the problem.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide students with the most up-to-date technology and the best learning environment,” said Waskiewicz.
The completion of the Center for Media Convergence is expected before the 2014-15 academic year begins. An unveiling ceremony is tentatively scheduled for early fall.
Artist renderings by Christine Barber ’10, interior design department assistant.