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A future of better communication

The Castleton State College communication department will never look the same. The department is leaving its scattered locations and moving on up. Estimated to be done by fall 2009, the communication department will be re-located to a totally revamped Campus Center, making it closer to the students. By bringing the department together, it will be easier for students to become more active in their majors and reach out to their fellow classmates, professors say.

This is just one part of the Castleton Student Initiative program. Exact floor plans are still being drawn up, according to Public Relations Director Ennis Duling.

But plans call for at least a “fish bowl” glassed in studio for WUIV, a new TV studio addition, new Spartan office, media viewing room and a Web accessible lounge.

The new Campus Center will provide “one-stop shopping for media,” according to journalism Professor David Blow.

Roy Vestrich, who has been a professor of communication and theater arts at Castleton State College for 20 years, gave a bit of history on the department itself.

Originally, the Communication department was tied with the English and theater arts departments. In 1992, communication became its own department because the numbers of interested students was increasing. There has been talk since 1989 of the communication department having its own area, according to Vestrich.

“This is unique. We actually believe it might happen!” he said, with a laugh.

Vestrich, along with other communication professors, realizes that locating the department closer to the dorms has potential benefits.

“Having it close to resident life might make it easier for students to do work,” said Vestrich.

“I hope with us all being together we will be even more supportive to students than we are now,” said Tom Conroy, communication professor and current chair of the department.

Currently, the communications department is spread out from Leavenworth to the Fine Arts Center all the way over to Haskell Hall.

“It would be nice to be in a space that’s solely communication,” said Conroy.

Vestrich believes that the new building will help with department cohesion and is looking forward to “having a facility that allows us to run more efficiently and more comfortably.”

The T.V. studio in room 132 of the Fine Arts Center has been there for 32 years, and WUIV, located in the basement of Haskell Hall was put there in the mid-’70s.

New facilities will make the communication department “rise higher on the pecking order,” according to Professor Robert Gershon, who has been teaching here for 30 years.

“I think what’s important for students to know is that it will keep the communication department in a high-value mode,” Conroy said.

This means students who graduate from Castleton with a communication degree will benefit as well. The program will become more high profile, and communication degrees will be more impressive, officials said.

Blow is excited about the new building for the convergence possibilities. He feels that being closer to Gershon, perhaps the Spartan Web site can have Web streaming news videos.

“The possibilities to improve our department with this new facility are great,” Blow said.

Convergence is an issue that is brought up when speaking of all forms of communication. Through convergence, all different media can share information and support each other.

Gershon however, does not believe convergence will be the biggest product of this move.

“Really in a way, the move will get us convergence in a 19th century way. Why should we have to be close together?” he said.

Dedicated communication students know they will benefit from the move as well. Their clubs will gain more exposure, and more students will surround them with the same interests.

“Right now when people come to visit our communication department, it looks older and used. I think that having a new building will make people more interested in coming for communication,” said Sarah Parker, the current General Manager of WIUV.

John Shramek, freshman journalism major, is one of the only members of The Spartan who will be around to experience the new building. The new building was a surprise to Shramek, who didn’t even know one was being built.

“The whole convergence thing is in all our of communication classes now. Having us all together lets us finally get a taste of that. Right now, we only talk about that,” said Shramek.

But not everything about the move will be positive.

“You don’t gain without some kind of loss,” said Gershon.

For the communication department, the loss will be the ties that have been created with the foreign language department, and the theater arts department.

For professors such as Vestrich, who also teaches Theater Arts, it will be harder to keep in contact with them. Gershon, who works closely with the theater students in the editing studio, will miss this as well.

Blow, who has been at Castleton for three years, only sees this move positively.

“I don’t think anything I will miss will outweigh the benefits of moving,” he said.

“I’ll miss the people. A lot of people in this building I’ve known for years,” said Conroy. “I’ll miss being so close to the parking lot!