Topic: College of Communication Information and Media

September 17, 2009

Late night talk show host David Letterman — Ball State's most prominent graduate — has won 16 Emmy Awards for his work in television, but it is the university's new communications building named in his honor that has won the most recent statuette.

During ceremonies Sept. 12 in Cleveland, the Lower Great Lakes Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) recognized the surround-sound production facilities for cinema, television and new 21st century digital media located in the $21 million David Letterman Communication and Media Building with an Emmy for technical achievement.

A former telecommunications student, Letterman has provided substantial assistance to the Department of Telecommunications through scholarships also bearing his name.

His latest gift to the university supports the David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series, bringing to campus Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, who spoke on emerging media's impact on the 2008 presidential election; Brian Storm, former director of multimedia at and current president of MediaStorm; and earlier this semester, Jason Whitlock, Ball State alumnus and award-winning sportswriter for The Kansas City Star and analyst for Fox Sports.

"This award is another testament to the strong support David Letterman has provided over the years," said Roger Lavery, dean of the College for Communication, Information, and Media. "We have a technology infrastructure in the Letterman studios that provides our students with a Hollywood-grade facility that has all the power they need for their productions and future needs. The facility was built to serve and to challenge. We're very proud of the building because of what it is doing to improve student learning."

During ceremonies to dedicate the building in 2007, Letterman emphasized that the new building would educate the next generation of highly creative communications professionals to work in emerging media fields. The facility is the centerpiece of Ball State's Emerging Media Initiative (EMI), a $17.7 million investment focusing the university's historic strengths in this area, accelerating benefits to the state of Indiana with media-savvy human capital.

Enclosing 75,000 square feet of classroom, studio and faculty office space -- much of it reflecting the latest developments in modern instructional building design, materials and construction — the Letterman Building is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and allows students to prepare soundtracks for broadcasting, cinema and Web application. All aspects of soundtrack production -- dialog, music and effects -- are recorded, edited and mixed in the two studios and five editing suites by students mentored by production faculty.

Lavery pointed out that the Emmy is a result of a team of faculty and staff who played a pivotal role in selecting and installing advanced technologies for the building. Each team member will have his name inscribed on the Emmy.

Stan Sollars, a telecommunications instructor, was the design leader who spent nearly a year developing the award winning facilities. Other team members included Tim Pollard, associate professor of telecommunications; Rich Swingley, telecommunications instructor; and Glenn Shick and Jim Scott, senior broadcast engineers.

The Emmy for the Letterman Building was one of three the university received during the NATAS ceremonies. Ball State picked up 10 Emmy nominations this year, bringing the total to 80 nominations and 24 awards since 2000.

Telecommunications major Riley Fields, a senior from Spencer, Ind., received an Emmy as editor in the non-news category for "State of Assault," a documentary created during an immersive learning project by students at the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry.

The 30-minute documentary defines the problems sexual assault victims often face and suggests steps that could improve the collection, testing and storage of forensic evidence as well better meet the emotional needs of victims.

Jeffrey Laub, who received a bachelor's degree in telecommunications in 2008, also won an Emmy as producer in the children/youth special category for the educational DVD "Finding Harmony."  The DVD is part of a project led by Ron Morris, history professor, to re-create the life of a short-lived community started by Welsh utopian thinker and social reformer Robert Owen.