In March 2019, the Meredith College Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new educational building that would house Meredith College’s growing Communication and Exercise and Sports Science departments. This building will be approximately 13,000 square feet and is expected to hold a new media studio, a podcasting studio and a human performance lab. Although this building was set to open in Jan. 2021, construction has been delayed due to COVID-19. As of late March 2021, construction has begun on the new building.
Dr. Melinda Campbell, Department Head of Exercise Sports Science (ESS), as well as Dr. Teresa Holder, Department Head of Communication, are both excited for the opportunities this new building will offer students. Dr. Campbell spoke about the opportunities for ESS majors, stating, “Having quality space allows for many collaborative opportunities with several programs on campus and especially with the Communication Department. Once the programs have settled into this new space, I'm sure new ideas will emerge.” Dr. Holder expressed similar sentiments for the Communication Department, saying, “Perhaps more than anything, the new building gives communication a true home that will help the program grow and flourish.”
The building will have a variety of new equipment that will greatly benefit both programs. According to Dr. Campbell, “a lot more research opportunities will now be available to students because of this new addition. This hands-on experience is crucial for future professionals in our field.” The ESS Department is also looking forward to buying new equipment to assist students in their research. As for the Communication Department, Dr. Holder states, “We'll have increased capacity for audio and video production with the addition of a production studio and editing suites.”
Since 2011, the ESS and Communication departments have seen their programs grow 29% and 52%, respectively. With this growth in both programs, the new building has been anticipated for quite some time. Once the new building is finished, the Communication Department will also be able to vacate the rooms they use on the second floor of Harris Building, which will allow space for the hospitality management program to be housed with the School of Business. This new facility will be replacing Weatherspoon Annex to provide more space for the ESS program.
In her statement to The Herald, Meredith College President Jo Allen expressed her excitement for the new opportunity the building would bring. She mentioned that Meredith was “concerned that COVID-19 could jeopardize our finances and enrollment projections” and that is why the building construction was delayed. However, Dr. Allen added, “We are fortunate that we are weathering the storm and that the programs housed in the new buildings look every bit as strong as we were seeing pre-pandemic.” She said that the communication and ESS majors are continuing to grow and see interest from students, and that she “see[s] both programs offering unique perspectives on and services to recovery and, in fact, to the pandemic itself.” Dr. Allen said she believes these two majors have become increasingly important during the pandemic: “We know that communication via multiple forms of delivery—TV, radio, social media, etc.—has been instrumental in fighting the pandemic. We also know that healthcare—through exercise, competition, physical strengthening, nutrition and more—are also key to the physical resilience to resist or minimize the effects of the coronavirus.”
Dr. Allen concluded by saying, “Meredith is proud of its ability to respond to in-the-moment challenges. The new building is a physical commitment of resources and experiential learning space to promote that kind of responsiveness.” For more information and progress updates about the new building, please refer to the Meredith College website.
By Rachel Van Horne, News Editor