Goodbye, Grehan: Journalism, communications moving out of longtime home for renovations

UK journalism student Maris Halpern works on her laptop in her Media Storytelling class in the basement of the Enoch Grehan Journalism Building on April 4, 2018. 

Sydney Momeyer

Home is where the heart is, especially for the College of Communication and Information.

Beginning August 2018, the Enoch Grehan Journalism Building will close for a full renovation. The building has been the home of student journalism at UK since its erection in 1951.

“It’s a major renovation,” said Director of Capital Project Management Dall Clark. He said windows will be replaced, as well as the roof if needed.

“On the interior, it’s a complete gut,” he said. “We are taking everything out except the floors. Everything will come down to some unfinished floor space and then we will go from there.”

The renovated Grehan building will be connected to McVey Hall.

According to campus officials, Grehan’s renovation comes as part of a larger project to make parts of campus a little more contemporary.

“We are working on an initiative on campus that is known as Modernization,” said Vice President of Facilities Management Mary Vosevich. “We are looking at buildings on campus that, by the condition and structure of the building, will be candidates for that kind of work so that we can modernize them.”

Two years ago, Vosevich and other officials began to think about what buildings best meet the criteria when it came to modernization needs.

“The criteria on our radar is considering student academic and scholarly success,” Vosevich said. “Another criteria is to consider programs that are scattered across the campus and trying to consolidate where they are located. Then, we also want to consider preserving historic structures on campus.”

When looking at this criterion, Grehan met the standards for renovations, along with one floor of the Chemistry-Physics Building.

“Those buildings along Funkhouser walk are prime candidates for this type of work,” Vosevich said. “But, Grehan just popped right up on the list.”

Currently, the $23 million project is expected to take a total of 16 months.

“We are hoping to bid the project this summer and start construction before school starts back this fall,” Clark said.

According to Vosevich, the legislature approved the project in a 2016 legislative session. The $23 million will be coming from bonds sold by UK; the university issued the bonds in January.

“(The $23 million) includes everything,” Clark said. “It includes design fees, construction and new furnishings.”

While renovations are occurring, professors and computer labs will be relocated, Vosevich said.

“The building (materials) and the occupants are all being relocated to Blazer Dining right now,” Vosevich said.

Vosevich couldn’t confirm who would occupy the renovated Grehan, but if it doesn’t return to the College of Communications “our goal is to construct a new building.”

While the new student center was being constructed, those who occupied the student center were relocated to Blazer Dining. Now that the student center project is close to completion, those occupants will be moved back into the new student center and Blazer Dining will host occupants of Grehan.

“The occupants of Grehan and some occupants of Chem-Phys will move to Blazer Dining during the time of the project,” Vosevich said.

Journalism and communications classes will meet in various classrooms around campus. Professors who currently occupy the building are expected to be moved out of their offices by June.

“We are trying to get everyone relocated this summer,” Clark said. “Some want to move earlier, some want to move in May. We have a few minor renovations to do in a couple other buildings before they can move. The official move date is June, but we really need everyone out by the end of July.”

Many professors currently occupying the building have held their offices there for the past few years. Associate Professor John Clark has been in his current office on the second floor of Grehan for the past 19 years.

“I have one of the longest histories of anyone in the building,” John said. “I have been in [my] office since 1999.”

Many professors were also undergraduate students at UK and not only hold offices in the building today but attended classes there while pursuing a degree.

“I was a Kernel staffer and was in the building in the ’80s,” associate professor Kakie Urch said. “At the same time, I was an undergraduate student getting my journalism degree here. I am now an associate professor and I have had an office in the building since 2008.”