HSJI Says Goodbye to Ernie Pyle Hall

There has been much deliberation on Indiana University’s campus lately regarding the bittersweet closing of Ernie Pyle Hall. This building, formerly known as the home of the School of Journalism, will no longer be used for classes– they will be relocated to Franklin Hall.

Numerous professors, students, and alumni have mixed feelings about this transition, many of whom have been associated with the building since as early as 1976. Entering Ernie Pyle hall is said to be like walking back in time– it’s nostalgic decor and rustic, wood walls emanating a feeling of rich history.

Ernie Pyle, born in 1900, was a reporter in Indiana who also won the Pulitzer-prize for his journalistic expertise and reporting on the soldiers in World War II. He was killed in 1945 during the war, and his life was honored with the construction of Ernie Pyle Hall–renamed for him in 1954. There is even a life-size bronze sculpture of Pyle on Indiana University’s campus in front of the Media School in Franklin Hall.

One adviser at Ernie Pyle Hall Hall who attended Indiana University, Meredith Bledsoe, was quite teary-eyed when interviewed about the move to Franklin Hall. She has fond, yet saddening memories of her former advisor at Ernie Pyle Hall, Dave Adams, who tragically passed away in 2007. Bledsoe says  that she learned a great deal from him while taking classes at Ernie Pyle as a student herself.

“The most bittersweet part about all of this is that it closes the chapter on Dave,” says Bledsoe, on the verge of breaking down into tears.

“All of the people that worked with him professionally have to leave that behind too,” she said. “I think that’s difficult for all of us.”

Despite the controversy that exists around the situation, Bledsoe isn’t the only one who feels as if the transition from Ernie Pyle to the new Media School is bittersweet. Other teachers, many of which had classes in the building during their years as Indiana University students, also have positive memories of their experiences.

Another HSJI faculty member, Jeff Gabbard, said, “For me, moving buildings is a sad thing because I grew up here in Ernie Pyle Hall as a student.”

Gabbard entered Indiana University with an interest in photography, but gradually developed his writing skills during his time at Ernie Pyle hall. He jokingly mentioned the substantial difference in technology, saying that his stories in the past were written on “manual typewriters”.

“I think the move to Franklin Hall is good in that it’s going to give the school a chance to have some of the better technology.”

The building itself was the home of various college-level journalism courses from photography and videography to designing yearbooks. Not only this, but participants in the High School Journalism Institute (HSJI) program have been in workshops at Ernie Pyle for many years. One former participant, Carter Barrett is a former HSJI student who is now a computer lab technician at Ernie Pyle Hall.

One of her fondest memories of Ernie Pyle Hall is meeting her boyfriend; both of them were participants in the HSJI program.

“We’ve been together for three years since then,” Barrett noted with a smile.

At the end of it all, Ernie Pyle Hall’s transition to Franklin Hall has its benefits and drawbacks, according to various staff and students. The memories that were made in Ernie Pyle Hall will be cherished by the many people who experienced them. Fortunately, the building itself will be left standing–along with the legacy of Ernie Pyle and the faculty members who have changed lives within it.

Story by Mikaili Azziz