Groundbreaking for New Journalism and Student Media Center April 28

Architectural rendering of the UATV studio as part of the new Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center
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Architectural rendering of the UATV studio as part of the new Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center

The University of Arkansas will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center at 2 p.m. Friday, April 28, on the Kimpel Hall patio at Dickson and McIlroy.

"Thanks to the generosity of Sue Walk Burnett, the student media at the University of Arkansas has been given an opportunity to imagine and plan for a greatly needed expansion," said Robyn Starling-Ledbetter, director of student media. "The state-of-the-art facility will ensure that we continue to provide excellent student experiences that lead to successful journalism careers for our graduates."

Larry Foley, chair of the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, agreed with Ledbetter.

"This is a very big deal for our program — one of the most impactful in our history, which dates back to 1930 when Walter J. Lemke founded us in the basement of Old Main," Foley said. "This center will provide our students with the hands-on tools needed to be competitive, successful 21st century media professionals."

Construction on the project starts May 17 with the closing of the south end of the first floor of Kimpel. This portion of the renovation will be completed by the start of the fall 2017 semester.

This work is part of the overall project to update Kimpel Hall, one of the busiest classroom buildings on campus. The winding corridors of Kimpel's first floor, where the journalism department and student media offices are currently housed, will be straightened out to resemble Kimpel's upper floors. This will also create more offices for journalism faculty and new classrooms.

Once this phase is complete, work on the second floor of Kimpel and the new addition will begin in fall 2017. This will entail creating the new addition of the UATV studio and control room, the main journalism office suite, and the newsroom for all student media outlets. This portion of the renovations should be open and operational in August 2018.

"Sue Walk Burnett is our hero," Foley said. "This simply would not be happening without her love for her university, and for the values and life skills she learned here by majoring in journalism."

Burnett is as excited by the opportunity to contribute to the journalism program and student media as the students, faculty and staff are about the project.

"The Department of Journalism means a great deal to me, and I am thrilled that we can contribute to its continued success with this gift," Burnett said. "My hope is that these new facilities will create an engaging environment for students who wish to pursue careers in these fields and allow them to gain valuable experience working in settings that mirror what they will find after graduation."

Burnett grew up in El Dorado and has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Fulbright College. As a student, she was secretary of Chi Omega Sorority and co-editor of the Razorback yearbook in 1968.

Today, she is the president and founder of Burnett Specialists, a $70 million staffing and placement firm with 10 offices in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso, and Choice Specialists in Dallas. Burnett and her husband did an Employee Stock Ownership Plan for their company in 2010. It is now the largest employee-owned staffing firm in Texas and second largest in the U.S.

Burnett has previously supported the journalism department by creating scholarships for journalism students and funding the Reading Room in Kimpel Hall, which was named after her in 1999.

She was honored as a Distinguished Alumna in 2007 and recognized at the Lemke Department of Journalism Hall of Fame this past October.

Contacts

Andra Parrish Liwag, director of communications
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-4393, liwag@uark.edu

Scott Flanagin, executive director of communications
Division of Student Affairs
479-575-6785, sflanagi@uark.edu

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