Written by John Newsom
The 15th president of Bennett College was honored in a naming ceremony at the renovated Merner Pfeiffer Plant. The building is now the Julianne Malveaux Journalsim and Media Studies Building.
“Bennett College is indebted to the 15th president of Bennett College for her vision, for her work as a public intellectual and her tenacity,” current President Rosalind Fuse-Hall said. She also called her predecessor “a muse for all Bennett Belles.”
Malveaux, an economist by training, was a syndicated columnist and TV commentator before she became Bennett’s president in 2007. In her five years there, she led a construction boom that put up the first new campus buildings in 25 years.
Among those new buildings were the Willa B. Player Residence Hall, now the largest dorm on campus, and the Global Learning Center, which holds the president’s office and an auditorium.
The journalism building was a top-to-bottom overhaul of the school’s former steam plant.
Built in 1935, the Merner Pfeiffer Plant housed the college’s laundry and a boiler that heated the entire campus. It was named after Henry Pfeiffer and Annie Merner Pfeiffer, the college’s biggest benefactors in the 1930s. Bennett leaders say the steam plant was designed by Charles Hartmann, whose architecture credits include the Jefferson Standard Building downtown, Dudley and Grimsley high schools and the Pfeiffer Residence Hall on campus. The college deactivated the steam plant in the late 1980s.
The new journalism building opened in 2009 with 4,800 square feet over three floors. There are two classrooms upstairs, faculty offices on the mezzanine, and a TV and photo studio downstairs. The college has about 60 journalism and media studies majors, making it one of the most popular departments on campus.
After leaving Bennett in 2012, Malveaux moved to Washington. Malveaux told the students in the audience that journalism needs to hear the voices of young African American women. “We have stories to tell,” Malveaux said.