School split on building name

The School of Journalism and Graphic Communication’s building will be completed by the fall semester 2005, but its historical figures may not have the building named after them.

The SJGC staff is in a split decision on whom to name the building after. Many of the journalism department’s staff want to see the new building named after the late professor Thelma Thurston Gorham and retired Dean Robert M. Ruggles. On the other hand, many of the graphic communication’s staff want James Bruton’s name to be added to the building.

SJGC Dean James Hawkins said he understands the viewpoints of the SJGC staff on both sides of the school.

“It would be my preference that the university community play a role in the name of the building,” Hawkins said. He said his main concern is to open the new building and that choosing a name can come later. He also said the state Legislature has the final decision in the naming process.

Associate Professor Vincent Blyden, who has been at FAMU since 1975, said the fields of journalism, graphic arts and communication should be represented equally.

Some journalism professors said that although Ruggles built the journalism program, Gorham and Bruton were the first to steer the SJGC program to higher standards and do not want to see their efforts overlooked by Ruggles’ achievements.

According to alumnae Karen Kirksey, Gorham single-handedly laid the foundation for the journalism program that exists today.

Documents in the University Black Archives, Research Center and Museum, cite that Gorham first came to the University in 1963 to serve as director of public relations and associate professor of journalism. Bruton’s obituary said he returned to his alma mater, in January 1946, and he. In 1946, he was the only person in the printing and graphic arts area and was responsible for all instruction and print production for FAMU.

“Bruton brought the two schools together. He was a key player in building the program,” said Arvid Mukes, director of graphic communication.

Former SJGC Dean Ruggles said he would be honored to have the building named after him. But due to the sensitivity of the naming process, Ruggles said the building should be named after the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which donated over $3 million toward the new building.

“Everyone ought to be credited and should have different portions of the building named after them,” Ruggles said.

Although Ruggles and Gorham had been at FAMU for more than 25 years, Ruggles supported Bruton’s name as well because of his 46 years of dedication to the Graphic Arts Division.

Ruggles arrived at FAMU in 1974. According to Leedell Neyland, author of The History of FAMU, the first 10 years of the Humphries presidency were exceptionally productive for Dean Ruggles and his faculty, as they laid a foundation for future growth and development in the school.

Neyland added that the results of Humphries’ and Ruggles’ overall influence over the last 16 years have been effectively documented by increasing enrollments, high academic credentials and national recognition of its faculty and students.

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