A dedication ceremony celebrating the opening this fall of the Rust Center for Media — an innovation laboratory along “media row” in the heart of downtown Cape Girardeau – is planned for Oct. 7 by Southeast Missouri State University.
The new facility was officially named today during a closed executive session of the Southeast Board of Regents. A public reception and open house celebrating the new Rust Center for Media is planned for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 7 at 325 Broadway in conjunction with the First Friday with the Arts program.
The Rust Center for Media is being named in honor of Gary W. Rust, an American entrepreneur who built a small weekly newspaper in Cape Girardeau into a network of newspapers, digital sites and radio stations in nine states.
A seven-figure gift enabling the naming of the Center was made by Gary and Wendy’s sons Rex, Jon and Gary, Jr. and their spouses Sherry, Victoria and Suzuyo, respectively, to honor their father and father-in-law. The Rusts have a long history of contributions to the University over the years and an appreciation for its role in the life of the community and the region.
“We appreciate the opportunity to recognize the Rusts’ constancy and dedication with the naming of the Rust Center for Media,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, Southeast president. “We are so pleased that with the financial gifts of their children, we have been able to create this media innovation laboratory for the advancement of our mass media program.”
Since the fall 2016 semester began in August, Southeast students have been learning and working in the Center that encompasses more than 13,000 square feet of space on two floors of a building leased to the University by Rust Communications. The Rust Center for Media has become a pivotal point of the Cape Girardeau media district that includes the Southeast Missourian newspaper and rustmedia next door and KFVS12, River Radio and the Marquette tech tower across the street. The location housed First Federal Bank for many years.
Renovation of the facility began in January by Kiefner Brothers Inc. and continued during the summer to prepare the building. The main floor features 6,300 square feet with a flexible learning space as well as production studios for students enrolled in television directing and advanced video production. The lower level contains 6,700 square feet and houses The Arrow, Southeast’s student newspaper; SECreative, Southeast’s student advertising firm; and Riverfront PR, Southeast’s student public relations firm.
There are workspaces for audio production, podcasting, photo production, webcast production and content creation. The building offers various meeting areas along with a floorplan to encourage teamwork among students and faculty as well as the ability to connect multiple digital devices to each other as well as to TV monitors. Students get to the new location using the River Campus Shuttle with a stop in front of the building along Broadway.
“The Rust Center for Media’s design and atmosphere fosters both creativity and collaboration. It provides the momentum to move the Department of Mass Media forward into its next phase of growth,” said Dr. Karie Hollerbach, chair of the Department of Mass Media.
Hollerbach says efforts were made during the planning phase to design a space that enables multimedia storytelling for 2016 and beyond and is an essential part of the department that supports student success.
“The Center exemplifies our department’s long-standing commitment to experiential learning and hands-on storytelling,” Hollerbach said. “The most exciting aspect is that students from all four of our curricular options are working and creating together in an environment intentionally designed to develop them as mass media professionals.”
The Arrow, formerly housed in Grauel Language Arts Building, is now located in the new Rust Center for Media and is publishing from the Broadway location. The student advertising firm and the student public relations firm also are working from the new facility this fall. The television production studios will not be fully operational until August 2017. Southeast’s television and video production program is currently housed in Rose Theatre on the University campus.
The course MC429 Media Management is being taught from the new building this fall as well. In that course, students work as managers or staff members for The Arrow as a part of the course requirements. All other mass media courses are continuing to be taught in Grauel this fall.
The new Rust Center for Media offers wonderful opportunities for students to work together with other students as well as with Southeast’s media partners, Hollerbach said. Through a contractual agreement, the Southeast Missourian provides professional guidance for production of The Arrow – both its print publication and website. Southeast also has a contractual agreement with KFVS12, which allows Southeast students to produce news and public affairs programming to air on WQWQ, the CW affiliate of KFVS12.
The launch of the new Rust Center for Media is part of a major retooling for the Department of Mass Media. During the spring 2017 semester, Grauel, where mass media faculty offices are located and coursework is taught, will undergo major renovation. During that time, mass media courses will be temporarily relocated to other campus locations until the renovated Grauel space reopens in fall 2017.
Upon the return to Grauel, the Department of Mass Media will also launch the “Pro on the Go” device initiative in which students and faculty in mass media classes at the 300-level and above will use Apple MacBook Pro laptops in the classroom.
Southeast has nearly 400 mass communication students, and the major offers four focus areas: advertising, multimedia journalism, public relations and TV/film. It is one of just 119 programs in the nation accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC).