New school opening brings pride to campus

If you went past Beyer Hall after 11 a.m. on Friday, you probably noticed the crowd.

They filled every space on the sidewalk -and some took themselves off the curb- in front of the corner of West Seventh and Peach streets.

Within the group, nearly everyone wore a quiet but proud grin.  Gannon president,  Keith Taylor,Ph.D., could be heard presenting the source of excitement: Gannon University’s  new Center for Communication and the Arts. Bishop Lawrence Persico delivered a blessing on the building, which houses the new School of Communication and the Arts, and its students, asking God to watch over the tongues and spirits of Gannon students to communicate with each other and the Erie community.

A tour followed the ceremonial ribbon cutting and formal addresses that showcased the best of the new building;, including second- floor access to the attached parking garage, new offices for The Gannon Knight and 90.5 WERG, a spacious art gallery begging to be filled and a brand new television studio, to name a few things.

Michael DeSanctis, Ph.D., professor in Gannon’s fine arts department, said, “The only thing missing now is students.”

He said in moving away from the old Schuster Gallery with fine arts, he now finds the new building “more accessible and consistent with a quality of professional exhibition spaces found on other academic campuses.”

DeSanctis compared this new building to a new outfit.

“When you put on a new suit, you carry yourself differently and walk and act differently than you did before,” he said. “ [These] clothes remind you of your humanity.”

With a strong background in architecture, DeSanctis pointed out that this building solidifies the principle importance of an architecturally sound environment that he shares with students.

As a believer that academic programs require visibility and tangible importance, he said the opening of the CCA building offers exactly that.

“Part of this building’s value is that no one in Erie passing West Seventh and Peach street can deny the fact that all disciplines connected to communications and the arts hold importance to us,” DeSanctis said.

The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, director of Gannon’s theatre program, is most excited to see each branch of communication and the arts under one roof.  He noted that the arts have been in five different buildings over the course of his time at Gannon, but the opening of the CCA allows for the “building of collegiality between each professor, which is essential to all academic departments.”

He said with the move of professors like DeSanctis, whom he rarely saw before, he is now able to have “legitimate, human interactions and real conversations that give [him] a different perspective on things.”

He said the opening of this building will prove to students that Gannon takes communication and the arts very seriously.

“It’s no longer just a set of majors for kids who get bored with other things,” Clerkin said.  “We have legitimate, pre-professional programs for skilled students.”

As for Gannon’s theatre department, Clerkin said the CCA allows the theater to remain a theater and no longer a “multi-purpose” building where classes are held.

He hopes some of the now- empty offices including his own, will be renovated for use as functional costume and prop storage.

“With less traffic in the theater space, there’s more time for rehearsals and student work, especially for the Fringe Festival.”

The opening of the new Center for Communication and the Arts marks growth for Gannon’s communication arts department, and it came about rather quickly.

“With a speed that has astounded many of us,” Linda Fleming, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences said, “this new building is now the artistic and cultural center of the University.”

 

KELSEY GHERING

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