Talk of future dominates OU journalism school dedication

Wednesday, December 1st 2004, 6:07 am

By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Publisher Edward L. Gaylord was remembered for his philanthropy, but the focus was on the future Tuesday at the dedication of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The sparkling, $18 million edifice was hailed as the best complex of its kind in the nation. Most of the funds for the building came from a record-setting $22 million gift from the Gaylord family to the university.

Opening ceremonies for the college included speeches by prize-winning commentators George Will and David Halberstam and columnist Kathleen Parker.

Gaylord, who died in 2003, was publisher of The Oklahoman newspaper and head of a business empire that spilled into entertainment, included films.

The 6,400-foot facility includes multimedia labs, computer labs, audio and video editing suites, a television studio, faculty offices, classrooms and the Edith K. Gaylord Library and Resource Center, named for the publisher's sister.

``The future is finally here. A new era of journalism is finally beginning. The college is finally getting the recognition it deserved all along,'' said student Maria Real.

Real, named the college's outstanding senior journalist, took part in the planting of a 50-year time capsule beside a life-size statue of the publisher.

OU President David Boren and Dean Charles C. Self remembered Gaylord as an innovator and a self-effacing, intelligent man with a dry wit who loved his state, country and university.

Self said the facilities at the school are as good as anywhere and its faculty was better than most.

Gaylord was known for his conservative politics and Boren said he mentioned to the publisher that the journalism school would be a place for diverse opinions, including those with which he disagreed.

Gaylord replied he understood, then added: ``But when it comes to the building, could you make the right wing just a little bigger than the left wing,'' Boren said.

He said Gaylord believed in good stewardship and knew the importance of contributing to something that would make a difference past his lifetime.

Boren said the dedication represents an important milestone. ``We are joining the top ranks. We are here and we are going to stand for something,'' he said.

In future years, Boren said he hopes the school will turn out journalists with values who will insist on writing and broadcasting stories that are factual, fair and recognize that people ``are not to be manipulated like chessmen for some kind of political purposes.''

Christy Gaylord Everest, chairman and CEO of the Oklahoma Publishing Co. and vice chairman of the OU Board of Regents, said the progress OU had made under Boren was a factor in her father's decision to make the gift.

``He knew a good investment when he saw one,'' Everest said.

The Gaylord statue stands in the back of the building, across the street from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, where the University of Oklahoma Sooners play football.

``We can't underestimate the role that Bob Stoops (Sooner coach) and the football program played in this gift,'' Everest said.

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