Media School, Ernie Pyle sculpture formally welcomed at Indiana University

  • Oct. 20, 2014

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By MJ Slab

The journey to create the Indiana University Media School wasn’t easy.

Faculty from the three merged programs showed “epic and honorable displays of resistance,” admitted Maria Elizabeth Grabe, telecommunications professor.

“I won’t pretend it was easy to convince faculty that we belonged together,” she said.

But it’s a journey that’s over, and the final product -- the Media School -- was celebrated Friday afternoon with IU President Michael McRobbie’s formal inauguration of the school and dedication of the sculpture “Ernie Pyle at Work.”

“As the world changes around us … what we teach and the manner in which we teach it must also evolve,” McRobbie told the crowd in Franklin Hall, the school’s new home.

Grabe said after their resistance, faculty from the former School of Journalism and former departments of telecommunications and communications and culture learned to be patient and trust each other.

“I’m confident that we are smart enough to know now that we belong together,” she said.

Franklin Hall was built in the early 1900s and was once the university’s library. It will soon be renovated for the Media School.

Actor Jonathan Banks, of “Breaking Bad” fame, attended IU in the 1970s and said his grandfather laid stone for Franklin Hall. Banks, who attended the event as part of Homecoming festivities, said he owes IU more than the school owes him.

“This school -- especially the theater and the cinema -- has been my life,” he said.

Renovations at Franklin Hall are expected to be completed in December 2015, Tom Morrison, IU vice president for capital planning and facilities, told the IU trustees earlier this month.

Grabe said the location -- near the Sample Gates entrance to campus -- is perfect for a school that teaches and studies something people are constantly consuming.

“This is exactly where a media school belongs,” she said.

Although the Media School officially started in July, the search is ongoing for a dean, who would hopefully start in fall 2015.

Provost Lauren Robel said the search committee, led by Dan Smith, president of the IU Foundation, is far along in the process and has found finalists. The plan is to have the candidates visit campus by the end of the calendar year, Robel said.

As administrators praised the hard work of those who created the school, they also acknowledged the rapid pace at which media evolves.

Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, which is the overarching school of the Media School, said there is a common thread between the journalism of Pyle, the work of Banks and the work of students.

“Even the newest media is based on the ancient art of storytelling,” he said. “Stories are the things that motivate us to act.”