Innovative New Studio Space Will Take Media Education, Research to Next Level at UK
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 13, 2022) — The University of Kentucky is widely regarded as an intercollegiate sports powerhouse.
But UK also, increasingly, is known for its ability to leverage athletics and partnerships with the private sector for academic and career success for students.
That’s the idea behind a distinctive partnership led by UK’s College of Communication and Information to create a 20,000-square-foot studio, production center and learning/research laboratory in Rupp Arena at the Central Bank Center in the heart of downtown Lexington.
The state-of-the-art facility – a partnership with the college, UK Athletics and JMI Sports – will create a high-tech collaborative space where students can learn alongside media production and sports marketing and communication professionals, said Jennifer Greer, dean of UK’s College of Communication and Information.
"We’ve been training students in broadcasting and media production for more than 70 years in various spaces across the campus,” Greer said. “This space represents a significant step forward in providing a collaborative place where our educational programs can be taken to the next level through an innovative partnership with athletics and the university’s media-rights partner, JMI Sports.”
The college has established a Sports Communication path within its Department of Communication and recently launched a sports track within the School of Journalism and Media. The space in Rupp will provide opportunities for training and instruction in those areas in addition to opportunities for faculty and graduate students to conduct research, Greer said.
“We believe deeply in the imperative to put students first in everything that we do,” said Tim Bernal, executive associate athletics director/external operations for UK Athletics. “That extends to our students on the field and court as well as those who are working alongside us in media and sports production. Our goal is to be best-in-class in every sport and in every program. This studio aligns with that goal to provide the best opportunities for all of our students.”
All three partners envision the facility as a truly collaborative space, allowing students, faculty and staff interested in sports across the campus to work with UK’s media production and marketing teams. UK has growing sports opportunities in many colleges, including Business, Education, Health Sciences and Arts and Sciences. In addition, area production companies and sports industry firms should be attracted to working alongside UK’s students, media professionals and researchers in the space, Greer said.
“JMI Sports is committed to delivering innovative partnerships to advance the academic and athletics mission of the University of Kentucky,” added Kim Shelton, UK Sports and Campus Marketing president. “This studio and production space presents an opportunity for the College of Communication and Information to be more actively involved with the UK Sports Network in a highly visible facility in the heart of downtown Lexington, demonstrating a collaboration between athletics, campus and the downtown community,”
The college also has developed coursework in video game design and development, and other programs have related areas, which provides opportunities for students to explore work in rapidly growing areas such as eSports and virtual gaming. UK already has some of the best eSports space in the country at the Cornerstone Building on campus.
“This space in venerable Rupp Arena will not only bring visibility to these growing programs in our college and in others, but it also will allow our students to work side-by-side with professionals producing sports programming and promotions as well as other digital content for distribution,” Greer said.
Under an expansion of the mutually beneficial Right of Use Agreement between Central Bank Center and UK and JMI Sports, the first floor of the Pavilion will be utilized to house the laboratory, as well as expanding opportunities for partners and sponsors under the agreement.
"Central Bank Center has long enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the University of Kentucky,” said Bob Elliston, chairman of the Lexington Center Corporation. “Utilizing the transformative investments that have been made in the expanded Central Bank Center campus as part of the educational opportunities for university students is a natural extension of that partnership, and we commend the college, Athletic Department and JMI for their leadership."
The new studio in Rupp Arena will allow the college to replace the roughly 6,000 square feet of studio space it has used for decades in the Taylor Education Building. That space will now be repurposed for other uses.
Greer said the college anticipates beginning to use the studio in Fall 2023.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.