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College of Mass Communications and Information Studies


Where Matters

Posted July 23, 2014
By Charles Bierbauer, dean of the college


Where would you rather be: out of sight and out of mind or at the center of the action?  Ground zero, if you will.  Since information and communication are essentials of nearly all endeavors, our college should be central, too.

Nearly since its inception, our School of Library and Information Science has been in Davis College just off the southeast corner of the Horseshoe and overlooking cozy Gibbes Green.  For the past 45 years, our School of Journalism and Mass Communications has been secluded, if not quite submerged, in the Coliseum on the far side of Assembly Street. 

No more.  Construction on the new journalism school home started in January 2014.  It's prominently at the corner of Greene and Sumter streets, just off the southwest corner of the Horseshoe.  It's much more where we ought to be.

At the White House, a tiny alcove near the Oval Office is more highly prized than a suite with leather couches and fireplace across the street in the Old Executive Office Building.  In the restaurant business, three things matter: location, location, location.

At USC, location is one of the things that matter.  People matter most.  Our foremost concern is who teaches what to whom.  Academics and scholarship.  But we do that more ably and effectively in a solid learning environment, preferably something with a little panache. We think the new building with its two-story atrium and adjacent greenhouse broadcast studio will have more than a little "wow" to it.

Are we swimming against a tide as the university as a whole moves westward across Assembly Street?   That's where the business school is opening its new building and new student housing is under construction, both adjacent to the aging Coliseum. 

Yes, we are.  But the neighborhood is getting crowded.  Parking is evaporating faster than a summer rain.  And the view has always been nonexistent.  Windows are a pretty good tradeoff.

The advantage we gain goes beyond seeing out, though psychologists tell us that's terribly important for work productivity and personal health.  It's also about seeing in and seeing the connection between all our disciplines in both schools and the rest of the campus and community.  Information — how we store it, where we find it, how you get to it and how you use it.  Communication — how we analyze, synthesize, and tell the stories of people, products, policies and practices. 

Where?  In our classrooms, labs, workshops, studios, libraries, media centers.  Also the streets, the sidewalks, the lawns, the fields.  In our case, even the rooftop.

Check out our roof garden.

In journalistic terms, who, what, where, when, why and how all matter.  Leave one out and the story risks being incomplete.  None is necessarily more important than the others.

But when it comes to recruiting energized students, seeking talented faculty and gathering vital information and telling engaging stories, where matters.