SPJ says no way ? for now pg. 24

By: Martha L. Stone Door still open for Indianapolis campus as site for HQ

As the arduous process of selecting a new Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) headquarters drones on into its third year, one of the two finalists is growing weary of the process.
The 23-member board of directors for SPJ this month nixed a detailed proposal for a move to the soon-to-be-built School of Journalism at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) over inadequate space. The decision infuriated the associate dean who shepherded the proposal ? reportedly not because of the rejection, but because of the delays that have caused animosity at his school.
Meanwhile, the Greencastle, Ind.-based organization, whose second finalist is Greencastle-based Depauw University, is quick to point out that SPJ hasn't rejected IUPUI outright, and that they'd be open to exploring larger facilities in Indianapolis, on- or off-campus.
"I put an enormous amount of time into this organization over the last year, and I clearly think I have not been treated fairly nor has the school," said Jim Brown, associate dean of IUPUI's journalism school on the eve of a meeting with SPJ's executive director on April 29. Prior SPJ officials reportedly told Brown that 2,700 square feet was sufficient, so Brown "called in political chips" with university officials to aggregate enough space in the new building. Now, those relationships with colleagues who gave up space for SPJ are damaged, he says.
After the 2-1/2 hour meeting with new SPJ executive director James L. Gray, Brown was encouraged. "I think the long meeting did a whole lot for getting me back on track with SPJ. It was a very positive meeting," Brown says. "Two thousand, seven hundred square feet is not practical for SPJ. It's not adequate for what we need," Gray says. "But we want them to know a relationship with them is still possible."
The SPJ board went into executive session at the April 17 board meeting, against the wishes of some board members, to launch a "protracted" debate over the two proposals that lasted a large portion of the 11-hour board meeting.
"We feel very strongly we will continue our relationship with IUPUI. Jim Brown has been a longtime supporter of this organization and we really value his contributions," says Wendy Myers, president of SPJ. "There is still a possibility of going to Indianapolis."
SPJ, in a special board meeting set for August, will decide whether to stay in Greencastle, go to IUPUI on- or off-campus, or re-locate somewhere else in Indianapolis.
SPJ, with 10,000 members largely in the U.S., leases its downtown-Greencastle headquarters of 5,000 square feet with 15 employees. The lease will expire in July 2000. Nine years ago, SPJ moved from Chicago back to Greencastle, close to the site of its 1909 founding.
While the executive session vote was reportedly overwhelmingly against the IUPUI proposal because of the space constraints, SPJ says board members are undecided on whether to stay in Greencastle or to move to Indianapolis. Some favor the historical ties to Depauw, while others think Indianapolis is preferable because of its city location. Others object to Depauw's smaller-scale journalism curriculum, which puts IUPUI's strong journalism program at an advantage.
DePauw University's proposal includes a parcel of land on which the Society would build a 5,000 square-foot building to cost at least $500,000. SPJ would lease the land from DePauw for $1 a year. IUPUI proposed a 2,725-square-foot office inside the new School of Journalism to be completed in 2001. SPJ would lease space at $35,000 annually. Both universities offered human-resources benefits, a travel agency, group purchasing, accounting, and other fee-based services. Both proposals, which may not be completely updated, are available online at www.spj.org
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher May 1, 1999) [Caption]


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