The new Scripps Convergence Lab is open for business in the College of Communication and Information.
The lab opened with a dedication celebration on Friday, Jan. 29, 2010. It is located on the fourth floor of the Communications Building.
Funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the 4,000-square-foot lab provides CCI students, student organizations, faculty and staff with a place where they can gather, collaborate and create. The space includes two studio areas, two conference rooms/focus group rooms, lounge space, a kitchenette and offices for members of the college’s information technology team. The lab is equipped with iMac computers, high-end software, a large format scanner, a black and white printer, a color printer, HD videoconferencing equipment, and audio-visual equipment, including UT’s first 1080p high-definition video/data projector and a portable HD video studio.
“This is going to become the hub of the college,” Dean Mike Wirth said. “The lab allows students in different areas of the college to mingle and collaborate.”
“It encourages a convergence of the disciplines, something that’s increasingly important as the problems we deal with become increasingly complex,” Wirth said, adding that the college will be encouraging its faculty to work together so students can produce interdisciplinary projects in the lab.
“Our students now have access to the technology and space they need to create more elaborate projects,” Wirth said. “With our classrooms and teaching labs equipped with cameras, computers and other technology booked solid with classes, the Scripps Lab will have a transformative impact on the educational experience of our students.”
Jamil Price, Journalism and Electronic Media senior, was taught as a child “to leave a place better than I found it. As I prepare to graduate in May, I know that the University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information is better than 4 years ago when I started. A large part of that is due to organizations such as the Scripps Howard Foundation. They understand the importance of education in today’s society, for young adults just like me, and we are very grateful for that.”
“It’s about young people,” said Scripps Howard Foundation President and CEO Mike Philipps, who was one of several university and Scripps officials to speak during a brief program. “For them, this is an extremely exciting time. They are going to reinvent our industry and reconnect our world.”
Ken Lowe, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive and the founder of HGTV, spoke about how valuable the lab is to the future of the media industry. “We really view this lab as a valuable partnership with UT and a wise and necessary investment in our future. The students who grace this facility today will be the communicators of tomorrow.”
Rich Boehne, president and CEO of the E.W. Scripps Co., agreed. “There’s never been a more exciting moment to be in our business than right now,” he said.
Boehne spoke of the important relationship Scripps has with Knoxville and how significant it is to now have an official relationship with UT through the lab. “This is really the third leg of the stool for Scripps—to have the News Sentinel, the networks, and now the UT CCI faculty and staff here to help us define the future of media and the future of journalism. On behalf of all of us at Scripps, I want to say to all of you at UT, welcome to the family!”
The $500,000 gift — the largest cash gift the college has received — is part of the Campaign for Tennessee. The most ambitious fund-raising effort in the university’s 214-year history, the campaign places UT among the ranks of the nation’s largest public and private institutions that have sought this level of private support.
Video from the dedication ceremony and more photos can be found here.