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Spring 2008

Coming Attractions: New Center for Communication Studies and Theatre

Kent Booty Associate Editor

CommStudies and Theatre Groundbreaking for the New Communication Studies & Theatre Building

Ground was broken in spring 2007 for Longwood University’s Center for Communication Studies and Theatre, which will house one of the university’s fastest growing programs.

The three-story, 41,983-square foot building is being built between the south end of Bedford Hall, to which it will connect on the first floor, and Franklin Street. It will be home to the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre, which has about 140 students majoring in communication studies and about 50 majors in theatre. The communication studies major, launched in 2000, is one of Longwood’s fastest growing programs.

The Department is currently housed in Jarman Hall, built in 1951, which is due to be renovated after the Center for Communication Studies and Theatre is completed. The new building will have a highly flexible 174-seat "black box" theater, in which the seats and stage can be moved around, which will become home to Longwood Theatre productions. A studio theater, of about 80 seats and also flexible, will be used for student productions. There also will be a scene shop, a costume shop and a drafting lab.

"It’s been a long time coming and a long time overdue, but when you see the finished product, I think you will agree that it was well worth the wait," Longwood President Patricia Cormier said in a ceremony in March 2007. "The building will have the latest equipment and facilities to ensure that our students will graduate with all the tools they need for success."

Construction is expected to take about 15 months and the overall cost of  the project is estimated at $11.9 million, to be paid for with State funds. The rear of the building will align with the back of Bedford, and a small, L-shaped section, called an "offset," to be linked with the main section through a breezeway, will extend slightly closer to Brock Commons than the front of nearby Wygal Hall. The exterior will be of brick and ground-block, with a metal red roof.

Those wielding golden shovels for the groundbreaking were Dr. Cormier; John B. Adams Jr., then rector of the Longwood Board of Visitors; Dr. Wayne McWee, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Ramesh Rao, chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre; Eric Koger, assistant professor of theatre; Breanoh Lafayette-Brooks, ’06, who was in the first class of com-munication studies graduates; freshman communication studies major Cara Lione; and freshman theatre major Katherine Morgan.

Katherine Morgan

"With this building, we finally have the type of classrooms that reflect the caliber of teaching that will go on within them," Morgan said. "New technology will help create a more adaptable  environment for students and teachers, which will facilitate increased enrollment within our department to create a more competitive, ‘real world’ atmosphere."

Cara Lione

Freshman Cara Lione, who is majoring in communications studies, added, "The ability to communicate in today’s world is vital. Most of the world’s misunderstandings come from a lack of communication, which is why learning how to better communicate with each other is so important. Good communication skills are paramount not only on a personal level, but also on a political and diplomatic level."

As a freshman, I look forward to having the opportunity to attend classes in this new building. More importantly, I hope that I and future generations of students who pass through this building, will use the knowledge and skills we have attained here to promote better communication and understanding as we take our places in society."

Dr. Cormier turned to Hollywood in challenging students in the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre. "I want you, especially our students, to remember that before he ‘Saved Private Ryan,’ before he sent Indiana Jones in search of the Lost Ark, before he urged E.T. to call home, and before his films grossed over $6 billion, Steven Spielberg was a student – just like you. In fact, he was denied admission to the prestigious University of Southern California’s film school twice ... So, I would like to think that some day – maybe right now – we may have a Steven Spielberg or Spike Lee studying here, or maybe a budding Tom Brokaw or an incipient Julia Roberts ... You will have the opportunity to learn your craft here in a way that can pave your road to success."