UPDATE (1/14/2016): The Iowa State Daily has completed their move from Hamilton Hall to their new location in Campustown. The Daily’s new offices are located at 2420 Lincoln Way, Suite 205 Ames, Iowa 50014-8340. In addition to the Daily offices, the new Kingland building houses University Relations and the ISU Foundation’s phone center.
Plans to renovate the Daily’s former offices in Hamilton Hall are underway. The space will be used to create additional university classrooms and expand the existing commons area. To keep a Daily presence in Hamilton Hall, a Daily Bureau has been established in 178-B Hamilton. Daily staff members can use the bureau space to work on stories, interview sources and hold meetings.
Since her freshman year, Danielle Ferguson, senior in journalism and mass communication, has called Hamilton Hall her home away from home. Between the many Greenlee classes she’s taken and her job as the editor in chief of the Iowa State Daily, Ferguson estimates that she spends at least 12 hours in Hamilton Hall every weekday.
That’s all about to change in the final week of the fall 2015 semester.
Next Thursday the student newspaper will move its office, where it has been housed since 1940 when the Collegiate Press Building (now Hamilton Hall) opened, to a new and larger office space in the recently-erected Kingland building in Campustown, on the corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Ave.
“We love our old space, it’s our little home away from home, but I think we’ve definitely outgrown it,” Ferguson said. “It’s a tight squeeze with everybody in there.”
The Daily’s transition to a brand new space has been but a dream for the students and professional employees who work on one of the largest student newspaper staffs in the nation. It also follows another change in the organization, a transition from the Iowa State Daily to the Iowa State Daily Media Group, a move that was approved by the ISD Publication Board last spring and took effect at the beginning of the current fiscal year in July.
The media group is the brainchild of Lawrence Cunningham, publisher and general manager of the Iowa State Daily Media Group, and the fruition of his efforts to diversify the organization since he came back on board as a professional staff member in July 2014.
“It gives us a lot more flexibility still and so we’re starting to see that based on the ideas we’re coming up with and where we want to go and customers are valuing that vision a lot more,” Cunningham said.
As a student, Cunningham worked for the Daily as an advertising sales representative, which he credits for starting his successful career in advertising.
Coming back to work as a professional at the student publication wasn’t an easy decision, but after years of declining revenues the Daily was in financial peril and its future beyond 2014 was in jeopardy. In the end, he couldn’t walk away from the organization that started his and so many others’ careers.
With the group’s move to its new space Campustown next week, his vision finally seems to be manifesting itself.
“Ultimately, it’s not about leaving Hamilton Hall, it’s about moving to a space that allows us to better serve our students,” Cunningham said. “Our new space will have a photography and videography studio in it, it’ll have conference rooms and board rooms, it just adds the legitimacy to the vision and the direction that the organization is going.”
Throughout his one-and-a-half years back working at the Daily, Cunningham has worked with Iowa State administrators to stake out new roles for the Daily at the university. While the media group’s primary focus will still be on strengthening the Iowa State Daily as a news product, the group’s move will also coincide with the opening of a new student-run creative services agency.
Dubbed the Model Farm, a name pays homage to the university’s origins—Iowa State was originally named the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm—this agency will offer photo, video and graphic design services; content creation and marketing services; copywriting and PR writing; among other services, to a cross section of businesses, ISU departments, campus organizations and other groups.
“Our goal is to cultivate creativity here and grow the next generation of business leaders through the experiential learning programs,” Cunningham said. “The new space is going to allow us to have some additional opportunities in the academic realm that we don’t have today—the ability to serve a wider cross-section of Iowa State students, which is important to us.”
The new, nearly 8,000 square foot space is approximately four times the size of 108 Hamilton and will feature an open floor plan, which will make it easier for students to work individually or in teams, says Mark Witherspoon, the Daily’s editorial adviser. Being in a new building, the space will have all new furniture and amenities. Computers are the only things that will be moving with the Daily to its new space.
This move wouldn’t be possible without the support of the university, which is footing the cost of the Daily’s new facility and moving expenses. For Dr. Thomas Hill, vice president of student affairs, the university’s investment speaks to the importance that the university administration sees in having a student newspaper on campus.
But with that support, Cunningham says, comes higher expectations for the Daily staff and the work that they produce. To him and the staff, it’s an exciting challenge.
“The feeling we get is that if people are investing this much in us, they must believe in us,” said Ferguson. “People are just excited and I’m excited to prove that we’re worth it.”
The Daily’s move has been in the works for a few years now, as the university works to accommodate its growing enrollment and make more space available on campus for academic purposes, says Margie Tabor, program manager with Facilities Planning and Management. Once the Daily is gone, the university plans to renovate what’s now 108 Hamilton Hall into two general-use classrooms that will seat between 36 and 48 students and expand the existing commons area to accommodate more students.
The ISD Media Group isn’t the only group moving to the new space, either. Iowa State has leased the entire second floor of the building and University Relations and the Office of Responsible Research will also be moved to the space.
While stopping in the Daily between classes won’t be as convenient for students, the prospect of being more self-sufficient and truly having a space to call their own is worth it. As Ferguson put it, “the biggest challenge will be having everyone come to classes here in Hamilton Hall.”