By Karina Valdes
University of Miami School of Communication ushered in the interactive age with the dedication of two new centers on Friday, December 2.
The school officially opened the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center and the Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center in a unique ceremony emphasizing interaction and technology. UM trustees, donors, guests, and friends watched the ribbon cutting on two flat screen TVs in the school’s courtyard before touring the new facilities.
Gregory J. Shepherd, dean of the School of Communication, opened the ceremony by thanking the university’s Board of Trustees, donors, faculty, students, staff, parents, and friends. He then told a story about “a space over here that we called the Reading Room.” The underutilized space would be transformed into the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center, but before “it was your typical small library that people of a certain generation remember well.”
“It was sort of dark and quiet, full of old dusty journals and hardly any students. It wasn’t a great place to be the front of the school. It wasn’t a great place for our students, as was obvious by their absence,” said Shepherd.
He “wanted a space that would encourage interactivity among our students.”
In the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center, students will gain hands-on experience in a professional setting by providing a multitude of digital and traditional creative services to clients.
Shepherd first approached Bill Koenigsberg, B.B.A. '77, about four years ago with his vision for a new interactive space. Koenigsberg along with Miles Nadal, both parents of School of Communication students, lead the effort to build the interactive media center, and also encouraged other parents to become involved with the project.
“As you will see when you see the donor wall, you will note how many of our donors were parents,” said Shepherd.
With blueprints for the IMC showing a modern, high-tech space, it quickly became apparent the area adjacent to the IMC and the Robert Corley Groves Studio needed to be upgraded as well. Shepherd also, for a very long time, wanted to “put the Mann name up in this school.”
“Bob Mann has been a supporter of this school before it was a school,” said Shepherd. He also called him an adviser and a friend.
Mann was co-founder and first general manager of WVUM, UM’s student-run radio station. He is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and chairs the School of Communication’s Visiting Committee. For more than 30 years, he has supported the university in numerous efforts including gifts to construct the Communication International Building and the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center. He established the Robert A. Mann Endowed Fund for the Department of Athletics, and the Samuel and Grace Mann Endowed Scholarship Fund in his parents’ honor to benefit undergraduate students majoring in broadcast journalism.
“And we now have the opportunity to put their names on this broadcast center. The Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center,” said Shepherd.
The Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center includes two HDTV broadcast studios, a sound stage for film production, an equipment room providing students with the latest technology, two control rooms, and editing suites with multiple functions.
“We have to keep on improving and we have to stay up with our peer schools and make sure we offer students the best equipment and the best facilities to learn in,” said Mann.
Thomas J. LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost, thanked the donors who supported the project and noted that in “higher education, and particularly in private higher education, things don’t happen without the support of philanthropists.”
“All of the great work that will take place within these centers…would not be possible without Bill, Miles, Bob, and Lauren. Thank you for your leadership and generosity in shaping the School of Communication,” said LeBlanc.
He also thanked the university’s trustees for supporting the vision to construct these centers.
“Today we celebrate a vision of what the School of Communication can be and how the facilities can impact undergraduate student learning,” said LeBlanc. “We are no longer in the medieval age and we need to make sure our university stays at the forefront, and this new project represents that commitment,” he added.
Margot Woll, School of Communication student and executive producer of UMTV’s SportsDesk, then asked guests of the ceremony to turn their attention to the TV screens to take a virtual tour of the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center and the Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center.
Oliver Redsten, School of Communication student and UMTV’s NewsVision anchor, lead the audience on the virtual tour and detailed what guests would soon have a chance to experience in person. He also explained how students would benefit from the spaces.
“As students, we will not only be learning about communication, but also how to implement communication plans and tactics, making us more confident when we enter the workforce,” said Redsten.
The TV screens then cut to the donor wall where Rebekah Chung, School of Communication student and executive producer of UMTV’s Pulse, interviewed Koenigsberg.
Koenigsberg expressed how we are living in a digitally connected world. “The currency of the future is digital currency,” he said, and he expressed how he hopes students who experience the IMC are provided with “digital currency so when they get out into the world they are richer than students from other schools because of this incredible space and atmosphere we’ve been able to develop for them.”
He also thanked Shepherd, and Donna Arbide, associate vice president of advancement, for inspiring him to want to help with this project.
“We are going to create the best students in the world through this interactive media center,” said Koenigsberg.
Nadal could not attend the dedication ceremony, but he was present through a videoconference from Ottawa, Canada.
“What excited me about this opportunity was that the University of Miami was taking a leadership role in creating the interactive media center of the future as part of its integrated communications program,” said Nadal.
He also added how “the amount of invention and investment that the university was making” made it apparent he wanted to “support and to invest behind the future digital interactive leaders of the future.”
After the ribbon cutting ceremonies, guests toured the Koenigsberg & Nadal Interactive Media Center and the Robert & Lauren Mann Broadcast Center. Students of the school were on hand to demonstrate the facilities and how they plan to use the spaces.
After touring the facility, Joseph B. Treaster, professor at the School of Communication, noted how “this center has got everything we need to really move on to the next stage.”
“I don’t think any other university has got something as powerful or as sweeping as this. All the greatest, neatest tools you want are here,” he added.