A New Doorway to Journalism: Stauffer-Flint Hall Renovation

Stauffer-Flint Hall renovations will update iconic building and the school’s approach to learning


KU’s home to journalists in training is undergoing a renovation that gives a nod to nostalgia while leading the way to new educational experiences.

Stauffer-Flint Hall, on the corner of Jayhawk Boulevard and Sunflower Road, is undergoing a transformation thanks to private philanthropy that will boldly alter the building’s function and façade while enhancing its natural appeal. A new front door and windows facing Jayhawk Boulevard as well as more functional workspaces are part of the plan. 

The renovation is due to be completed in late fall, with classes resuming there in the spring semester.

Ann Brill, dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, said Stauffer-Flint sits on some of the best real estate on campus. 

“We never wanted to move, but what we did want to do was make better use of our space,” Brill said. 

The Romanesque building, which was built to house boilers and a machine shop in 1899, had infrastructure issues for years: The elevator stopped between floors; the basement often flooded; and the pipes clanked loudly in the winter when the building was being heated, so loudly that they would disrupt classes and presentations. 

“It was past the point of charming,” Brill said. 

So with gifts from John and Barbara Stauffer, of Topeka; the Wallace Charitable Foundation in Wichita; and from the estate of the late W. Keith Swinehart, of Hilton Head, S.C., plans for overdue maintenance and renovation moved forward. 

John Stauffer Sr.’s late father, Oscar Stauffer, donated funds in the 1980s for a renovation of then Flint Hall, and the building was renamed in gratitude to him. Both Stauffers are KU alumni, Oscar in 1912 and John in 1949. John Stauffer said his father would be happy to see the building rejuvenated once again. 

“This was a project of my father’s, and it was important to him,” Stauffer said. “The building needed improvement, and I felt that in honor of him and his record and accomplishments, I was happy to participate in updating the facility.”

The vision for the inside is one of usefulness — a place for creation and collaboration.  

When students and visitors walk in the front door, they’ll see a state-of-the-art broadcast studio for Media Crossroads and KUJH-TV. The University Daily Kansan once again will be produced in the building, with the newsroom serving as flexible laboratory space during the day while Kansan staffers are at class and covering stories. The space will be a news hub for final production of online and print editions in the evening. Audio and podcast production will be part of the media mix as well. 

“When you walk in that front door, you’ll feel like you’re in the workspace,” Brill said. “You’ll be able to see what’s going on in the studio; you can watch video productions and radio and podcast production, as well as the production for the Kansan and the advertising staff.”

The building also will gain four rooms that can be used as classrooms or for faculty and students to do      hands-on work. The third floor, previously mostly attic space, also is being renovated for student and faculty use. 

Brill said the changes will be visible from the outside as well as the inside. The previous east entrance did not have a foyer, the first thing anyone entering the building saw was the elevator. The new north side entrance will give the building a “front door,” and a new plaza and landscaping around the building is part of the plan. 

Using digital technology and special lighting, the plaza will show the 24/7 nature of media and display inspiring quotes about critical thinking, truth in reporting and editing, and reflections on the day’s events. 

Dinah Swinehart Brock, a 1972 KU alumna who lives in Beaufort, S.C., said the renovation was an important cause for her father, KU alumnus W. Keith Swinehart. 

“He loved KU and the journalism school,” she said. “Having spent most of his college days in this beautiful building, whether working on the Kansan or in the classroom, he wanted the building preserved for future generations of journalists.”

MICHELLE TEVIS

 

UPLIFTING IMPROVEMENTS: Stauffer-Flint Hall has sunk about 10 inches below the ground level, so putting in a new front door and plaza facing Jayhawk Boulevard requires digging and leveling the area. Donors John and Barbara Stauffer are excited to see the updates.

YOU CAN HELP
To support next-generation technology for journalism students, contact Marlys Shulda at 785-832-7352 or mshulda@kuendowment.org.