A look inside the under-construction Grehan Journalism Building


A construction worker takes a break in what used to be the Kernel newsroom in the basement of the Grehan Journalism Building on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The building is under construction and is expected to be completed in December 2019. Photo by Bailey Vandiver | Staff 

Bailey Vandiver

On the second floor of the Grehan Journalism Building, Gurney Norman stood in what used to be the yearbook office— including in 1959, when he was editor of The Kentuckian

In the basement, I stood in what used to be the Kentucky Kernel newsroom— during my first two years at the student newspaper.

The building closed for construction in August 2018. In April 2019, UK graduate and English professor Gurney Norman and I toured the under-construction building. I had arranged the tour so I could get footage for a mobile journalism class project I was producing about Norman. 

After donning neon vests and protective hard hats and glasses, we set out on our tour, led by Project Manager Ben Noble of the Turner Construction Company and Bob Brashear of UK’s Capital Project Management department.

We went first to the second floor, where Norman spent much of his undergraduate years working on the yearbook. Though it had been many years since the yearbook office was housed there and the yearbook itself ceased publication in 2014, more drastic changes had come to the space since construction began. Norman said the area had completely different partitions than when he used the space— though it had roughly the same view of the Margaret I. King Library. 

I had a similar feeling in the basement, which once held the Kernel’s presses but more recently held us, the Kernel staffers. I had to ask Noble to point out exactly where my old news desk used to be. 

Unfortunately for many alumni who have fond memories of Grehan, the renovated building will not be re-inhabited by journalism or communications students. 

Instead, Noble said he believes the building will go the College of Engineering, though retaining “Grehan” in the building name. 

The Kernel has previously reported that, according to journalism professor Al Cross, the new College of Engineering dean, Rudolph G. Buchheit, asked for Grehan to be given to the engineering college as part of his agreement to accept the job. 

“It was part of his package,” Cross said in the previous interview. 

As for the College of Communications, the university has plans to construct a new building, according to UK spokesperson Jay Blanton. 

Blanton said the university is working hard to raise the necessary resources, and the funding is expected to come from the Kentucky Can campaign

The renovations are expected to be completed in December 2019, with classes being held in the building in the spring 2020 semester.

We did not tour the entire building, so the video shows only a few areas. Because this video footage was taken about two months ago, it likely does not exactly represent the current progress of Grehan’s construction.