PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University broke ground on a $12.7 million addition to the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication in ceremonies held today (May 23) on the Pullman campus.

The 24,000 square-foot building, scheduled to be completed fall 2003, will house research and teaching labs, a digital television news studio, faculty offices and a 172-seat classroom auditorium. The computer labs will be among the most advanced facilities in the world, allowing faculty and students to conduct nationwide surveys, measure psycho-physiological responses to communication and evaluate online research.

Barbara Couture, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, opened the event. Among the speakers were V. Lane Rawlins, WSU president; Alex Tan, director of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication; Joe King, president of the WSU Board of Regents; and Sharon Warsinske, past chair of the communication school’s Professional Advisory Board. Additionally, Clark Mather of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office delivered a statement on her behalf.

Nearly 150 spectators were on hand to witness the event. President Rawlins was encouraged by what he saw.

“I’m pleased to have so many students here — this is a building for you,” he said. Rawlins also read a prepared statement on behalf of Gov. Gary Locke who was unable to attend the ceremonies.

In his address, King became emotional as he spoke of the significance of the new addition. “Rising out of the dirt is not just another building but an opportunity to open minds and opportunities around the world,” he said.

Communication is one of the fastest-growing disciplines at WSU with nearly 700 communication majors and 750 pre-majors. It ranks 11th in the country for telecommunications research and in the top 15 for many of its research and teaching programs. The faculty ranks in the top 10 nationally in research productivity.

“The Murrow School has a past and present,” King said. “A school well recognized around the world is more than just a pretty face.”

Tan added that the new facility would not only benefit students but people in the region by “doing research that truly matters.” He also read a message from Casey Murrow, son of the late Edward R. Murrow, on behalf his family.

The school is the only comprehensive communication school in Washington, with programs in broadcasting, print journalism, advertising, public relations and communication studies.

The groundbreaking coincides with a visit by CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who is in Pullman today (May 23) to accept the Edward R. Murrow 2002 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.

Amanpour delivers her speech “Killing The Messenger” this evening at 7:30 p.m. in Bryan Hall Auditorium.

She began her CNN career in 1983 as an assistant on CNN’s international assignment desk in Atlanta.