FHSU open house in Malloy Hall unveils new computer labs for Communication, Music Depts.

Fort Hays State University, which boasts a "high-tech, high-touch" approach to education that combines the best of computer technology with an emphasis on personal attention, has added two more specialty computer laboratories for its students.

The new computer labs for communication and music students were unveiled this morning during an open house in Malloy Hall.

Fort Hays State completed a years-long project last summer to convert all its general-use classrooms -- more than 60 -- to mediated classrooms, which means they are designed and equipped with a variety of instructional audio and visual media of the latest technology, including computers and Internet connections. The two new labs bring to 37 the number of computer labs available to students in residence halls and classroom buildings. Of those 37 labs, many are tailored to specific academic areas. Besides music and communication, these include agribusiness, health and human performance, tech studies, the writing center, psychology, business, graphic design, mathematics, a composition classroom, and geosciences.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, talked about the two new computer labs during a brief news conference that launched the open house.

"In the new communication lab, we have computing technology specifically designed for theatre, advertising and public relations that previously was not available on campus," he said. "The communication lab compares favorably with professional-quality studios, thus allowing our students to produce professional-quality work."

He continued: "The equipment upgrade in the Music Technology Lab allows students in theory and composition courses to use software to notate music on the screen, hear what they have created played back through a synthesizer, and print scores and musical parts on a printer."

The president said the labs were developed with funds appropriated through the university's 2001-02 strategic planning process.

President Hammond introduced two guests from Topeka, Mary Blubaugh, executive administrator of the Kansas State Board of Nursing in Topeka and an FHSU alumna, and Jesse Maddox II, team leader of workforce management for the Kansas Department of Personnel Services. He explained that last summer students in an FHSU class, Public Relations for Nonprofit Organizations, developed a nurse recruitment campaign that was adopted by the KSBN for statewide use.

Jennie Straight, assistant professor of communication, supervised the students. She explained during the news conference that the P.R. campaign, "Don't Let Nursing Flatline," was inspired by a direct request from Blubaugh. "The class created posters, pamphlets and radio and television commercials for a campaign to encourage students to consider nursing as a profession and to raise public awareness of the critical shortage of nurses in the state," Straight said. "The students received standing ovation from state officials during a presentation in Topeka, and the Board of Nursing plans to ask the Kansas Legislature for an allotment of $300,000 to produce the campaign."

Dr. Carrol Haggard, chair of the Department of Communication, and Dr. Tim Crowley, chair of the Department of Music, talked about their new labs.

"The communication lab provides state of the art hardware and software that enable our students to achieve educational objectives in the areas of public relations, advertising, theatrical design, photography and newspaper layout," Haggard said. "Our students are able to produce work which is of the highest professional quality."

Haggard explained that beginning theatre students can use the computers to visualize what a theatrical set will look like with the drawing programs that convert hand-drawn sketches on the screen to actual drawings. Advanced theatre students can plot both scenic and lighting designs, he added.

"Journalism students are able to view the entire layout page of the newspaper thanks to the 22-inch monitors," he said. "The new software allows for the rapid electronic production of the campus newspaper, significantly reducing the production time. The quality of the photography can be significantly improved by the use of new software. This also has reduced the time involved in editing photos."

Haggard said advertising and public relations students can use the new software to design campaigns, such as the one accepted by the Board of Nursing, which was undertaken before the lab was fully up and functional.

Crowley said that in addition to the musical composition capability mentioned by the president, students in aural skills courses can use software in the new music lab to reinforce "ear training" exercises. "Students involved with jazz improvisation courses may use this laboratory to create jazz accompaniments with which to improvise," he added, "and advanced students interested in digital audio production and post-production can use the equipment in this laboratory to master recordings and create compact discs of their work."

Crowley said the lab also is equipped with several elementary school music education software programs for students interested in careers as elementary music educators. The programs are used each summer to support the department's High Plains Children's Music Camp for children in grades 2 through 5.

Haggard and Crowley expressed appreciation to the president and other members of the Steering Committee for Strategic Planning for providing the funds necessary to make the new technology available to students. They recognized members of the university's Physical Plant -- Larry Perkins, Terry Pfeifer, Tracy Taylor, Mark Grieve, Eldon Jerauld, Dustin Klein, Jerry Dreiling, Dale Wiedeman, Jordan Munsch, Neal Dreher and Gary Murphy -- who remodeled the rooms. They also recognized Jack Jackson, mediated classroom coordinator, and Bruce Bardwell, assistant professor of communication, for their assistance in the selection and installation of the new computing equipment.

Students and faculty demonstrated use of the new labs during the open house, which lasted until 10:30 a.m.

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu