Facility renovations begin on lower Hirt

The lower level of the Audrey Hirt Academic Center, which contains the working facilities of the Communication and Graphic Design departments, will be renovated over the summer.

The plan is to create a student-centered facility and transition the department to the quality of a professional-level communication facility.

The department was given the green light at the end of last summer, “so we’ve been working diligently in making the plans and making them come into fruition,” said Assistant Professor and Chair of the Communication Department Meghan Corbin.

The first part of the renovation is the construction of the Center for Media Convergence on the northeastern corner of the building, in the area now being used by as Laker TV.

All the equipment in the control room of Laker TV studio will be upgraded to digital, to be up to par with what today’s professionals use in the industry.

“As the industry moves to this new standard, this equipment will allow us to do that as well. We will be getting new cameras, new sound board, new editing board, new on-site equipment, and cameras and equipment for on-site shooting,” said Corbin.

To attain greater convergence between the current Mercyhurst media, the Merciad office is moving into the area currently being used by Laker TV, as a way to increase cooperation between the two groups.

“If we had one story, then there might be an article in the Merciad and a news package on Laker TV,” said Corbin.

The radio station will stay where it currently is at the bottom of the Baldwin Residence Hall.

The radio will still work alongside the other two media as part of a united student media group.

The second part of the renovation is the upgrade of the Graphic Design Lab.

A removable wall will be built in the computer teaching lab, where students will be able to enter a work station without disturbing the classes that are being taught.

The third portion of the renovation is in the lobby area of Hirt, below the stairs.

The photocopier will be moved elsewhere in the lobby, while couches, signage and a flat screen TV will be added.

Additionally, a display case for the awards that Communication and Graphic Design students have won, will be installed.

There will be a table-top bar that will run along the west side of the wall so students can come and work on projects between classes.

Other upgrades include carpeting and painting the classrooms to “freshen up” the face of the area. As part of the new equipment, students will use Premier as their new editing software.

James Lohrey will be the new faculty member of the Communication Department, replacing Dennis Lebec who is retiring after this spring term.

Lohrey has taught at Mansfield University for eight years and specializes in multimedia storytelling. He is expected to overlook Laker TV.

“He is a very hands-on faculty member and will be a good set for the department and the university. We are very lucky to have him,” said Corbin.

The Communication department is also in the process of becoming a member of the new Tom Ridge School for Intelligence Studies and Data Management.