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Murphy Hall basement opens after renovation

The basement of Murphy Hall, the building that houses the University’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, was renovated for the first time in more than 20 years.
Image by Dean Tan
The renovations also included a new library and study spaces.

On Feb. 1, Murphy Hall opened its basement to students after its first renovation in more than 20 years, improving classroom functionality and updating technology. The renovated lower-level at Murphy Hall, which is home to the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, now includes an updated library area, podcast studio and broadcast studio.

Administration began considering the renovation in summer 2018 after receiving complaints about the classroom setup and lack of gathering spaces for students. Murphy Hall’s last renovation was in 1999.

The main goals of the $4.34 million renovation were to create distinct classrooms, update the technology and add a space for students to congregate, according to Wally Swanson, the digital media studio coordinator at the journalism school.

“Back before the renovation, we had three classrooms with no walls between them,” Swanson said. “Needless to say, that was not very popular with instructors.”

Swanson also said the lack of walls separating the classrooms was distracting for students.

“We wanted to get segregation of the classrooms so there was actually some privacy and so that they were sound isolated,” Swanson said.

The newly renovated basement now has three separate classrooms. One of the classrooms is a multimedia studio room, which has lighting specifically suited for photography. The other two classrooms are labs, which can be combined, if needed, to create a space that seats 40 students.

“Teachers are able to teach in a way that wasn’t even possible in the old classrooms,” Director Elisia Cohen saidl.

The renovation also updated the broadcast studio. The studio was expanded to allow for three cameras from three different angles, a standing desk and a sit-down desk large enough for two anchors.

Scott Libin, who teaches a news casting production class, said he is eager to use the broadcast studio to prepare students for the workforce. In early March, students will begin producing their newscasts in the studio.

“All television stations are looking for newscast producers, and they want to know what we are doing to train more of them and get more of them into the workforce,” Libin said. “I feel like we are better equipped now to do that.”

Libin said he feels the renovations provide a better experience for students and better prepares them for their future careers.

The renovations also included a soundproof audio booth that can be used as a podcast studio. Cohen said the new studio spaces combined with the new classrooms opened up more opportunities for courses including podcasting and other photojournalism classes.

Additionally, the layout allows for a central hub, which includes the library and study spaces. There are now a variety of seating options for students to work either individually or with a group. There are also group study rooms students can rent out.

“I think one of the biggest issues [before the remodel] was that we had no study space or common areas that you could hang out in between classes,” said Madeline Susedik, a fourth-year student studying strategic communication. “Now we can meet up with a group here or study.”

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