Expansion of facilities allows for evolution of two departments


Franciscan University’s Marketing and Communications Department has work to do. In the late 1980s, a Steubenville roller skating rink was converted into the St. Joseph Center; now the building is undergoing its first renovation since 1988 and the first for the two-year old marketing and communications department.

Kimberly Sponseller, executive director of marketing and communications, said the facility’s growth will allow for the respective evolution of her department and the advancement office.

Specifically, wide-scale renovations will provide additional office spaces for the two departments and a collaborative new video production space, one similar in function to the current television studio in Egan Hall. Sponseller said, “The main purpose of the studio will be to record lectures for online classes.”

With the addition of a new master’s degree in theology and Christian ministry offered online, the university saw the need for further studio space than is offered on campus. The Marketing and Communications and Academic Affairs solution was a medium to present “high-quality video production, staffed with people who really understand that,” according to Sponseller. Prospective internships, course credit, and SWOP positions are also in the works.

“We create our own videos,” said Sponseller, emphasizing the opportunities that an in-house studio will present for the department. The university also plans to film EWTN segments within the future studio, as well as courses for the Catechetical Institute.

The advantages of a new studio extend beyond a benefit for e-learning. Said Sponseller, “We wanted to give our online students a real feel that they are part of Franciscan University, to make them feel engaged.” The studio, operational in November, also represents a capacity for on-campus students to operate a control room fitted with multiple cameras.

The beneficial construction has necessitated patience on the part of all departments under its roof. “We didn’t have room for the studio, the expansion of advancement, our business and MA counseling faculty offices and classrooms, and then for the marketing and communications department,” said Sponseller.

Thus began a year marked by flexibility during growth. Half of the department of advancement was moved into an Assisi Heights building, now called the Alumni Center, to provide sufficient space for the video production studio, in a series of renovations that began in late June.

The Marketing and Communications Department hopes to inhabit their new offices by the end of October, a shift which marks the conclusion of only one phase of renovations, and the beginning of another. Once Sponseller’s department moves into permanent workspaces, the space they currently occupy will be renovated and prepared for Advancement employees currently displaced in the Seminar Room.

Come December, “the entire building gets a fresh coat of paint and new flooring,” said Sponseller. Workers will also insert a permanent partition between Classrooms A and B. A new kitchen, conference room, workspace for SWOP students, and prayer room are also slated for completion.

“The department is growing because the needs of the university have grown as well,” said Sponseller. She cited the new production studio for use “around the clock,” renovations set to achieve “clean, effective workspaces,” and re-purposed department positions “with expertise in new media” as three of the many signs of such advancement.

The growth of the marketing and communications department will better serve the needs of the university, and of a changing generation. In a new space come November, the department’s graphic designers, director and associate director, market research employees, web-team managers, video production staff, and student photographers understand they contribute to a cause greater than the department itself.

“We want to educate, evangelize and reach our students, benefactors, conference attendees and more using all of the wonderful communication channels technology provides us for today,” said Sponseller. Now, more than ever before, she can help to lead a department that does just that.