Hampton University opens new school

A sea of blue and white converged on the new Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications for its grand opening at Hampton University and hopes ran high.

“I’m excited about the celebration,” said Wynel Marchman, a junior broadcast student. “The Scripps Howard School will tremendously help us. It will also motivate students to do the best they can because they have the best equipment.”

Broadcast student Stacey Sneed agreed.

“Scripps Howard school is a wonderful opportunity for opening doors,” she said. “It will lay a solid foundation for students to gain more experience. When students search for school in journalism they will search for our school.”

President William Harvey told the 200 attending the grand opening that “where this school goes depends a lot on the students. I believe we are going to be sought after in the media field because we bring honor, dignity and grace to Hampton University.”

“The dream belongs not to dreamers alone but all the hands that helped build.”

The Sept. 25 grand opening was a high point of a partnership pieced together by Harvey and Judith Clabes, president and chief executive officer of Scripps Howard Foundation, who hope to increase diversity in the news workplace.

The school’s creation was made possible through a $10 million commitment from the foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the E. W. Scripps Company.

In addition to the 36,000-square-foot building, the foundation’s commitment includes a new journalism curriculum, endowments for scholarships, visiting professionals, and faculty development.

Selecting a school for this partnership was not easy, said Clabes, and the behind-the-scenes planning for this day took four years.

“There was a long process and a lot of research behind the selection of what HBCU to use for a new Scripps Howard school,” Clabes said.

“After all the paper research, it was narrowed down to a couple of schools. Hampton University was always being mentioned as a wonderful HBCU and we were impressed with President Harvey’s consistency of leadership. The stars just lined up for all of us.”

All say they hope that the school, with a faculty of 15 that is enrolling 288 students, will be ready to compete with the country’s top journalism schools.

“I hope in the next eight years we see an increase of HU students in the media workplace,” said Rosalynne Whitaker-Heck, the interim director of the school. Harvey appointed her to the post after he and Charlotte Grimes, who headed the media arts department, had fundamental differences over the school’s mission.

Whitaker-Heck said she was excited, exhilarated and tired.

Grimes said she had always hoped for a school that would give students a solid foundation in communications and journalism.

“I want our students to be able to compete effectively with graduates of top journalism students in the country,” she said. “It is important that we turn out dedicated, highly skilled young African Americans, which can bring much needed diversity to journalism community.”

Added Glabes, “The newsroom sets the agenda for the country. Media is key to that, and I want people who decide what’s important in the newsroom to represent everyone and not just one race.”

Festivities at Hampton University took place Sept. 23-27. Representatives from several professional organizations and media companies participated in a week-long series of workshops and professional forums.

Jasmine Wilcox is a journalism student at Hampton University