Aside from a man in red constantly outside and a reputation for spooky bathrooms, Willard has always been a special place for students in the Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.
“My first college class was in Willard, I think CAS100,” says Andrew Destin, a senior broadcast journalism major.
It was a shock to some that the classic building was going to get a $25 million expansion. Although the project took an extra year to complete to due COVID-19, Penn State professors and students have already taken advantage and formed opinions about the modern side of Old Willard.
Fewer Buildings, Less Stress
A huge goal of the Bellisario College of Communications is to move students into three buildings: Carnegie, Willard and Innovation Park. Previously, organizations like Centre County Report, COMMRadio and others had to make the drive out to Innovation Park in order to produce their content.
“I am no longer making the schlep out to Innovation Park,” says Destin. “Getting on the bus was the absolute worst.”
Even though the Red Link is available to students that need to go out to Innovation Park, it made participating in classes and extracurriculars within communications difficult.
“There were days where I would literally have to drive my car from Innovation Park to campus, rush to a meeting or class, and then go back to Nittany Deck, grab my car, rush all the way out there and barely make the class,” says Steve Kraycik, director of student television at Penn State. “Everything is just right there, it makes the workday a lot more convenient.”
Among professors having offices in Willard, other organizations like COMM Agency, COMM Radio, Centre County Report, The Daily Collegian, and the College of Communications have found their new home within the modern expansion.
Collaborative Environment for All Majors
The new addition to Willard not only pulls students into fewer spaces but compiles them into an architecturally thought-out environment aimed to improve productivity.
“I love the space, it’s a great space to do work and to meet with friends,” says senior journalism major Jeremiah Hussle.
By just sitting in one of the study spaces throughout Willard, students can peer inside classroom windows to watch instruction or even Centre County Report film their packages through. Everything is visible and for some students, this transparency of different fields of communications is very motivating.
“I feel like all this new equipment and this whole new world kind of brings us all together, even though we aren’t all doing the same thing,” says senior broadcast journalism major Isabella Hayes.
Destin believes that the new building and the project to put all communication majors together, he hopes it will foster a welcoming environment to mend different organizations.
“There are unfortunately some rivalries that exist between student outlets,” says Destin. “We are trying to break those cliques, which is awesome.”
Having multiple organizations in one area to promote collaboration and respect is something Destin hopes that the Willard expansion achieves.
“My vision is that everybody that comes to this school should try everything and figure out what they like and are good at,” says Destin.
Following the modern aesthetic of the interior, the new building features many highly advanced technologies that are readily available to students. Rooms dedicated to recording booths, cameras, Macbook-filled computer labs and more allow students to create professional-grade reports and packages.
“We had an NBC News Anchor Kate Snow here and she was very impressed with our facilities,” says Kraycik. “She said ‘You know this looks like an NBC News studio in some ways.”
Communications is a field that has grown and evolved so much in just the past few years. With the advancement of technologies, creation of new media like podcasting and multimedia reporting, the new technologies allow students to keep with the rapid changes in communications.
“It’s also important because technologies change so often, the technology at Innovation Park was very good but some of the equipment was very quickly becoming outdated,” says Kraycik.
Other students also greatly enjoy the new equipment, having gone to Innovation Park for other student organizations or classes in the past and noticing the subtle lack of modernity.
“I think it’s 2021 and I think that this [Willard addition] is exactly what we need,” says Hayes.