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Oct. 26, 2015
Northwest Missouri State University on Friday dedicated its new Michael L. Faust Media Lab, celebrating the significant upgrade of a classroom that plays a key role in preparing students for success after they leave the University’s School of Communication and Mass Media.
The newly remodeled classroom space in Wells Hall is named for Faust, the visiting dean of Northwest’s Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies and a 1974 alumnus of the University. Faust’s recent gift to the Northwest Foundation helped underwrite the upgrade.
Before accepting the visiting dean role at Northwest early this year, Faust had spent the last 36 years with Kiewit Corporation in Omaha, Neb., and the last 32 as assistant to the company’s chairman.
Faust often quotes Kiewit Chairman Walter Scott Jr., who said, “Education is the best investment you can make in yourself and the greatest gift you could bestow on someone else.”
“This multimedia lab certainly is a shining example of Mike bestowing his gifts to so many Bearcats – Bearcats past, present and certainly for the future,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “We would not have had funds to do this project. We would not be in this classroom today. It would not have happened without the gifts of Mike Faust.”
In addition to managing administrative tasks for senior executives at Kiewit, Faust was an instructor at the Kiewit University training facility, contributing editor to the company’s quarterly magazine, and he managed the company’s corporate foundation. He also took the lead in the company’s political relations and represented Kiewit in community affairs.
Faust said his motivation to fund a remodel of the media lab stemmed from his career in communication and business.
“I largely made my career in communications as a corporate speechwriter for a Fortune 500 company,” Faust said. “So I wanted to do something for the School of Communication and Mass Media, but one of my other jobs is that I managed our corporate charitable foundation with the Kiewit Corporation. As one of our goals there, we tried our best not to give away money. Our focus was on making charitable investments in youth to help them grow up to be responsible and productive citizens of society, and that’s essentially what we do at the Northwest Foundation, through the campaign, when we make our gifts. We are investing in the next generation of Bearcats.”
Previously, the multimedia lab was located in the lower level of Wells Hall and was prone to water leaks after heavy rainfall. Jasinski made light of that less-than-ideal environment Friday, recalling his days teaching in the old classroom while he was a mass media faculty member.
|Left to right are Dr. Matt Walker, director of the School of Communication and Mass Media; Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski; Faust, visiting dean of the Booth College of Business and Professional Studies; Northwest student Adam Bochart; and Northwest Provost Dr. Timothy Mottet. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)|
“I don’t know if you know anything about computers and water, rain and other things that happened as a result – it wasn’t a great equation,” Jasinski told the crowd gathered for the dedication.
Through Faust’s gift, the media lab was moved upstairs to the first floor of Wells Hall, and its concept was transformed to create a more engaging learning environment for students. In the reimagined classroom, new Mac computers and large monitors line work tables on the outer edge of the classroom. Large flat-screen television monitors are positioned on every wall and synced with a Smart Board at the front of the classroom. In the middle of the classroom, a table provides a space for students to gather for instruction and discussion without the distraction of a computer in front of them.
The former media lab was designed much like a traditional classroom with tables in rows. The computer monitors often distracted students and blocked instructors from engaging or making eye contact with them.
“We know there are plenty of studies that show that a classroom environment and class room design have significant impact on a student’s learning,” said Dr. Jody Strauch, an assistant professor of mass media who teaches regularly in the media lab. “I don’t need research to show me that. I see it every day now when I teach in that lab. The students are more engaged than I have ever seen them.”
Strauch added, “When they’re off working, they’re helping each other. I have not seen that as much as I have seen it this year. They will help each other with software questions – ‘How did you do that?’ – or even comment on their design – ‘Hey, I like how you did that.’ You don’t get that when you’re in rows. Having the resources to do that in this lab has just been beyond belief.”
In all, more than 200 students are benefitting from the remodeled media lab. It serves 12 classes and seven faculty members each week.
One of the students benefitting from the remodeled classroom is Adam Bochart, a junior mass media major with a broadcast production major from Creston, Iowa.
“The new media lab has been a fantastic opportunity for not just myself but every student in this department,” Bochart said. “It’s going to help us get jobs. It makes our reels look fantastic. My two favorite classes are in that lab this year and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
At the conclusion of Friday’s dedication, Dr. Matt Walker, the director of the School of Communication and Mass Media presented Faust with a golden fob key, granting him access to the media lab whenever he desires.
Noting Faust’s other philanthropic commitments to Northwest – including the Michael L. Faust Scholarship, which is awarded to graduates of high schools in southwest Iowa – Walker said the remodeled classroom will have a similar impact.
“The investment in the media lab is sort of like a scholarship for all of our students because it benefits every single student in a way that we might not necessarily see,” Walker said. “It fortifies their abilities and potential as they graduate and leave here.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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