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College of Communication, KUT Break Ground on Belo Center for New Media

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The University has broken ground on the Belo Center for New Media, which will house the College of Communication and the KUT Public Broadcast Center. The $50.6 million, five-story, 120,000-square-foot building will be built on the northwest corner of Dean Keeton and Guadalupe streets, across from the college’s current home. The building will augment the college’s teaching and research space and considerably expand its existing footprint.

Rendering of the Belo Center for New Media

The Belo Center for New Media will open in 2012.

The Belo Center for New Media will feature state-of-the-art classrooms and lecture halls, student office and meeting space, and large auditorium spaces for introductory classes, film showings, and conferences. Signature spaces in the building will include a multimedia digital newsroom, an agency-grade “creative room,” where advertising students can present and critique creative work, and a café.

“While the media environment changes from moment to moment, the core values of good journalism span the ages and the platforms,” says Robert Decherd, chairman of The Belo Foundation of Dallas and chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer of A. H. Belo Corporation. “I’m proud that the Belo Center for New Media will play a significant role in not only training future journalists, but in supporting students and academics in examining the role of media in society.”

”The Belo Center for New Media will serve as a crossroads for people and ideas. It will connect students with each other, faculty, and practicing professionals through flexible space and innovative teaching,” says Roderick P. Hart, dean of the College of Communication. “The center will enable students to combine traditional methods and progressive media to shape the ideas and develop the techniques that will change the face of communication.”

The KUT Public Broadcast Center will be in a two-story, 20,000-square-foot wing. Designed to engage the community on a deeper level, the space brings Studio 1A — one of the most famous recording and broadcasting studios in Austin — out of its rarely seen basement location to become Performance Studio 1A, a 72-seat, glass-walled space that will incorporate the community into some of KUT’s 300 annual in-studio performances.

Other features of the KUT Public Broadcast Center include a community engagement room to promote daily interaction between KUT and the public via forums, workshops and events, a street-level outdoor stage overlooking a performance lawn, and a producer commons that will bring together — for the first time — KUT’s newsroom, on-air hosts, music producers, online producers, and interns to collaborate.

“KUT has become one of the nation’s most remarkable and innovative stations,” says Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of National Public Radio. “It is a rich resource for Central Texas, providing high-quality news and a vibrant music mix that reflects the distinctive character of this incredible community. Today marks a milestone not only for KUT, but also for the advancement of the entire public media ecosystem.”

In addition to Decherd and Schiller, speakers and special guests at the ceremony included James R. Huffines, former chairman of The University of Texas System Board of Regents; Amy Meadows, BS ’87, vice president and executive director of The Belo Foundation; Melania Melikian, advertising senior and president of the Communication Council; William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin; and Stewart Vanderwilt, general manager of KUT Radio.

“This new, world-class facility will enable KUT to become a daily destination — not just on the radio dial — but a place that engages the community in an immersive media and learning experience unlike any other,” says Vanderwilt.

The Belo Center honors the third generation of Belo Corp. leaders — Joe M. Dealey, BA ’41, H. Ben Decherd, BA ’36, and James M. Moroney, Jr., BBA ’43 — whose grandfather, G. B. Dealey, established The Dallas Morning News on behalf of A.H. Belo in 1885.

The center was announced in September 2007. The majority — $12 million — of a $15 million lead gift  announced at that time is from The Belo Foundation, with $3 million coming from Robert W. Decherd and Maureen H. Decherd, BA ’73, the estate of James M. Moroney Jr., BA ’43, and the Jim and Lynn Moroney Family Foundation. The gift is the largest donation ever made by The Belo Foundation and was the first pledge made toward building the new center.

Additional contributions were made by alumni and friends of the college, including John, BJ ’59, and Jane Barnhill; Kay Hopper; Karen Elliott House, BJ ’70; Deborah Howell BJ ’62; Jeff, BJ ’84, and Anne Hunt; Marsha, BS ’91, and Robert Jones, BBA ’87; Ardon, BBA ’81, and Iris Moore BS ’82; Donald, BBA ’76, JD ’79, and Gina Reese, BBA ’76; Neill Walsdorf Jr., BS ’82; and Michael Wilson, BJ ’75, and Michelle Garland.

KUT is in the midst of an $11 million capital campaign to build and equip the KUT Public Broadcast Center. Early contributions have come from the Brown Foundation, Inc., Patrick Cantilo, Jennifer Carloye and George Huntington, the Mattsson McHale Foundation, Dr. Nona Niland and the Niland Foundation, Kacy and Scott O’Hare, and the family of KUT founder Bob Schenkkan.

Lawrence Group Architects of Austin designed the Belo Center and the KUT Public Broadcast Center in association with Graeber, Simmons & Cowan. Flintco, Inc. is the construction manager for the project.

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