SMPA breaks ground with a new facility

GW celebrated the groundbreaking of the new School of Media and Public Affairs building Wednesday at the corner of H and 21st streets.

Board of Trustees Chair John Zeglis said at the party the SMPA building will serve as home to the leaders in communication technology. Zeglis, who is also president of AT&T, said GW already has shown its commitment to revolutionary gadgets, especially at Commencement.

“I used to find it strange to see GW students talking on their cell phones with their classmates sitting across from them on the Ellipse,” he said. “Now, as president of the largest wireless company, I just say `God bless them.'”

The building will consolidate SMPA programs that are run out of the fourth floor of Phillips Hall and a renovated church on 20th Street. The University plans to move WRTV, WRGW and the Dimock Gallery into the new facility.

GW sophomore and political communications major Karis Durmer said she will reap the benefits of the new building, which is scheduled for completion in the year 2001. She said the SMPA building proves GW’s commitment to providing students with a “state of the art education.”

“It’s an example of all that’s good with GW,” Durmer said.

The festivities were a culmination of a long struggle the University endured to get approval for the SMPA project. Last October, the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission opposed construction because GW had not offered the city an updated campus plan. But in December, D.C.’s Board of Zoning and Adjustment approved the University’s plea to build an SMPA facility.

“This is a day of genuine excitement because all of us can remember the bumps in the road,” GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said.

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