GSU receives $22.8 million donation for media production center near Woodruff Park

Woodruff Foundation gives school an early Christmas present


Georgia State University has received a $22.8 million gift to open a new media production center near Woodruff Park.

The philanthropic gift from the Robert Woodruff Foundation is the largest in the school’s history and will fund renovations of the former SunTrust Bank building at Edgewood Avenue and Park Place. Once finished, the three-story structure will become home to a new GSU initiative called the Creative Media Industries Institute, a new center designed to give students a better chance to land jobs in music, film, game, or media industries.

David Cheshier, who chairs GSU’s communications department, tells CL the facility could triple the number of students majoring in film, graphic design, creative writing, music, and other creative fields who are considered “workforce ready” by the time they graduate GSU. The facility could also help GSU play a major role in Georgia’s ever-growing film industry, he says.

“A lot of places are scrambling to develop the programming we’re going to be able to do shortly,” Cheshier says. “With studios breaking ground every day, I felt like GSU had a short window to play a role in making the film industry in Georgia a permanent one. People around the country are trying to do this. The Woodruff gift came at the perfect time.”

According to Cheshier, CMII’s focus will be in three areas: media production, arts entrepreneurship training, and academic research tied to creative industries. All three efforts will heavily emphasize interdisciplinary work among students in different majors. He says 15 faculty members will eventually lead CMII including former industry professionals, current GSU professors in other departments, and new teachers.

CMII, which is expected to open in August 2016, will continue GSU’s expansion throughout Downtown. In a statement last Friday, GSU President Mark Becker said the gift will also help pay for streetscape upgrades and is “helping to reshape” the area east of Woodruff Park. The school already has plans to construct new facilities for its business, public policy, and law schools in that area.