Southeastern Magazine

Breaking Ground

Creating the Robin Roberts Broadcast Media Center

Tonya Lowentritt

May 16, 2024

Robin Roberts giving a speech

Good Morning America Co-Anchor Robin Roberts, then Gov. John Bel Edwards, representatives of Southeastern Louisiana University, and officials gathered together on a Thursday afternoon in November to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the construction of the Robin Roberts Broadcast Media Center and the $40 million renovation of D Vickers Hall. The Robin Roberts Broadcast Media Center will add an additional 33,000 square feet to the 80,000-square-foot academic building and will include three broadcast media studios—a newsroom, a film studio, and a multimedia studio. The architect for the project is Holly and Smith of Hammond.

The project will be paid for through state Capital Outlay funds and a sizable donation from Roberts.

Architectural sketch of the new Robin Roberts Broadcast Media Center

“Every time I’m back on this campus, I’m 18 years old again with big eyes, big dreams, and big hair. And yes, the optics may have changed, but the Southeastern spirit has not,” Roberts said. “I am so incredibly proud of the standard of excellence here at Southeastern already with the Department of Communication and Media Studies. It’s exciting to know that this broadcast center is going to attract students from all over the country and the world and to know the skills that they are going to obtain. But more importantly, knowing that what we’re going to do is allow them to have big dreams, to focus small but dream big and have those dreams come true.”

“This facility is greatly overdue, as our faculty and students have been operating with limited space,” said Southeastern President William S. Wainwright. “The new facility will greatly enhance the classroom and specialized lab space needed to provide modern instructional opportunities to our students.”

Southeastern President William Wainwright speaking with Robin Roberts

The finished 113,000-square-foot facility will continue to serve its existing academic programs in English, theatre, foreign language, and communication. However, the Communication and Media Studies department will include a major expansion of the curriculum for the cutting-edge broadcast/media facility. The new addition will feature not only film and TV studios, but also radio studios and foley and film audio studios, along with their associated control, support, and edit rooms.

The third floor will contain additional shared classroom spaces for all four departments within the building. A new reconfiguration of faculty office space will increase access to natural light and offer more opportunities for student/faculty collaboration.

Robin Roberts giving a talk to students at Southeastern

In addition to the three broadcast media studios and upon completion of the renovation and construction, D Vickers will include 104 offices, 27 classrooms, two 100-seat lecture rooms, five computer labs, and four English/language labs.

Another major component of the renovation is a makeover of Vonnie Borden Theatre. The renovated theatre will seat 498 people and include scene and costume shops, a green room, and male and female dressing rooms.

A 1983 communication graduate and former basketball star, Roberts learned her basic broadcasting skills as a student-athlete working at the university’s KSLU radio station and as the part-time sports director at Hammond’s local radio stations. She entered the broadcasting field upon graduation and eventually joined ESPN, hosting SportsCenter and contributing regularly to NFL Primetime. She joined the Good Morning America team in 2005.

Southeastern President William Wainwright with Robin Roberts and others
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards with Robin Roberts

Named Southeastern’s Distinguished Alumna of the Year in 1996, the Pass Christian, Mississippi, native has also been inducted into Southeastern’s Athletics Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame by the WNBA. In 2006, she was named one of the NCAA’s “100 Most Influential Student-Athletes” in conjunction with the NCAA Centennial Celebration. Southeastern Athletics retired her jersey in 2011 with a ceremony in the University Center.

Southeastern recognized Roberts with an honorary doctorate in 2014. At the hooding ceremony during that spring commencement then Southeastern President John L. Crain said, “Robin has been a tremendous treasure for Southeastern, and we are proud to confer upon her this honorary doctoral degree. Her personal and professional achievements have made her a true role model. She is one of the university’s foremost advocates and ambassadors.”

Breaking ground on the new D Vic and Robin Roberts Broadcast Media Center building
From left to right, Southeastern Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale, Southeastern President William Wainwright, Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller, Louisiana Senator Bill Wheat, Good Morning America Co-Anchor Robin Roberts, former Southeastern President John Crain, then Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, then ULS System President Jim Henderson, State Representative Nicky Muscarello Jr., and Hammond Mayor Pete Panepinto helped break ground on the Robin Roberts Broadcast Media Center.
View more Southeastern Magazine