New journalism school will open on schedule, despite lack of funding

Buying equipment for the School of Journalism and Graphic Communications’ new building will have to wait until matching funds are released by the state legislature.

“We can’t order equipment without money,” said Robert Ruggles, dean of the SJGC.

Instead of delaying the building’s opening, Ruggles intends on equipping part of the building after the school receives the money. Officials are planning to install a printing press as well as other state-of-the-art computer and graphic design equipment.

When construction is completed this year, the $20 million building will house all of the school’s programs.

Officials said building construction is going as expected.

“We got lucky and haven’t had too many weather or material delays,” said Ricky Goodson, a construction worker with Culpepper Construction, the company handling the project.

According to Ruggles, getting the funding in place has been the problem.

There is about $6 million that has not been collected. There is $1.8 million in the FAMU construction budget, and $1 million in the governor’s Public Education Capital Outlay or P.E.C.O. budget. Some of it is on the private fundraising side in the way of outstanding pledges from the St. Petersburg Times and Florida Times-Union, those pledges, along with other private money totals around $1.5 million. That money is to be matched dollar for dollar by the state legislature.

Money that is raised by the school in 2003 cannot be matched by the state legislature until 2004, when the new building plans to open.

Private fundraising, in terms of looking for grants is still ongoing and the school hopes to have the money and the matching state funds in time for the scheduled opening.

When completed the building should be able to accommodate about 600 faculty, staff and students. The four-floor building will have private faculty offices, classrooms, a library and a computer laboratory.

There will also be offices for student organizations including the The Famuan newspaper and Journey magazine. Officials hope to have the building completed and ready for use by spring or early summer 2004, and begin teaching classes by that next fall semester.

Frank Khalifa can be reached at