On Thursday morning, Hussman School of Journalism and Media Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Charlie Tuggle walked beside the floor-to-ceiling windows and a giant broadcasting screen.
"If you can imagine it, we can do it,” he said.
Tuggle stood inside the Curtis Media Center — the newest extension to the journalism school, which had planned to be open for a full schedule of classes during the fall semester.
The building's construction was announced in late 2018 when the Curtis Foundation committed $10 million to the journalism school — eight million of which would be used for the new center.
And on Thursday, more than a year after its expected opening in January 2021, the Curtis Media Center had its official dedication.
Tuggle said the center is complete with a broadcasting studio, control room, seminar meeting spaces, several classrooms and a MakerSpace.
"This opens up a lot of possibilities for the entire media and journalism school," he said.
Tuggle added that the building will effectively serve as a central broadcasting hub.
Passing students and faculty can watch sports games, coaches’ talks or livestreams of performances in Memorial Hall via the broadcasting screen visible outside the building. This feature is useful, he said, because of the center's location between Franklin Street and the central campus, and its access to other University spaces.
“We are tied into everybody else,” Tuggle said. “We’re tied into the arts. We’re tied into athletics. We now have camera locations across campus."
The center is also equipped with a unique audio system, called virtual microphone technology, that carries sound so professors don't have to be mic'd while teaching. Its roof has solar panels, which Tuggle said would produce enough electricity to offset the building's usage.
“Everything that we envisioned is part of what we have, and we’re now thinking about the future,” he said. “We can’t sit still when it comes to technology, because it changes every couple of months. So, we built a building that would adapt.”
One example of this ability to adapt is the center's classrooms. Large classrooms on the second and third floors have divider walls down the center, which can be removed to allow for 50 students or used to separate the room in half for smaller class sizes.
Gary Kayye, professor of advertising and public relations at the journalism school, said the classrooms in the Curtis Media Center are true HyFlex classrooms.
Professors can use instructor reference monitors in order to see students on Zoom as if they were an extension of the classroom, he said.
“So what’s cool about this is, if students are missing class, they’ll feel more part of the class because they’re getting a two-way experience, and the professor can actually see them.”
UNC junior Cassia Sari said she was excited to see the Curtis Center nearing completion.
“This is amazing,” Sari said. “We’ve got state-of-the-art technology, great anchor seats. I mean, there’s no complaints.”
As a political science and journalism major with a broadcasting concentration, Sari works on the Carolina Week broadcast program.
She said the center will make it easier for broadcasters to cover different events, such as basketball games and Memorial Hall performances.
"We have it all here," Sari said. "And I think that’s going to save us a lot of time, a lot of energy, and it’s just going to elevate our show to a level that it just hasn’t been on.”
On Thursday, Sari got to explore the center's new broadcasting studio and the other features she'll get to use next year.
“I never thought that we would have this amazing space,” Sari said. “Not at all.”
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