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Updated 10:00 AM November 13, 2006




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'The Dude' marks 10 years as center of media activities

James and Anne Duderstadt Center staff and faculty are celebrating the 10th anniversary of a facility that stands out among U.S. university and college media centers.

"When I speak to my peers around the country I am frequently reminded of the advantages we have on this campus because of the Duderstadt Center," says John Williams, director of the center and executive producer of the Digital Media Commons it houses.
The art exhibit at the Gallery marking the 10th anniversary of the Duderstadt Media Center attracts visitors from within and beyond the campus community. (Photo by Elena Godina)

"Today many colleges and universities are building collaborative learning spaces, most often referred to as 'learning commons.' When I describe the activities and programs that go on in our facility, my peers are amazed. I describe the Video and Performance Studio, where dance, music and theatre students and faculty can create elaborate multimedia performances using equipment, staff and space so sophisticated that MTV likes to rent it when they are in town.

"Our immersive 3-D CAVE (virtual) environment can create a host of three-dimensional environments, from the inside of a human heart to an ancient Roman city. The multmillion dollar Audio Recording Studio is used by both musicians and electrical engineering students.

"The list goes on: three libraries with extensive visual collections. Four hundred public work stations with access to hundreds of discipline-specific software packages. And a coffee shop. That really stops most of them. A coffee shop in a library."

The Duderstadt Center—sometimes called "The Dude"—is being celebrated in a multimedia Gallery exhibit with video and music presentations and brochures presenting a detailed written history of the center.

Opened in 1996 after more than 10 years of planning and development, the center was conceived in the 1970s in discussions about the need for a North Campus general library. Operated by the Office of the Provost and not part of any school or college, the facility makes available to students, faculty and staff that which on other campuses typically is accessible in only advanced research labs.

After operating under other names—the Integrated Technology and Instructional Center and then the Media Union—the building was named the James and Anne Duderstadt Center in 2004 to recognize the role the former U-M president and his wife played in creating the vision for the building and its funding. Over its 10 years, the center's annual visitor count has risen from 500,000 to more than 2 million.

Since it opened, more than 1,000 performances, presentations and projects have been produced with the support of the Digital Media Tools Lab in the Digital Media Commons. Performers, musicians and artists are encouraged to explore the integration of digital technology in dance, performance, art theatre, electronic music and more through performance, exhibition and installations. Visitors can view the presentations year-round in the Gallery and the Video and Performance Studio.

"As the retrospective exhibits came together for the Duderstadt Center 10th anniversary Gallery display, I think we all began to appreciate the vision Dr. Duderstadt and his faculty advisory committee had at the outset," Williams says. "This included deep collaboration across many disciplines; engineering and art students, music and dance students collaborating with information science students, students initiating research, faculty exploring new ways of teaching. That experience began when the building opened, but it is really building to a crescendo today."

Glenda Radine, public relations manager of the Digital Media Commons, says, "After seeing the exhibit, people comment on how impressed and surprised they are to see the number and scope of things that go on here."

The Gallery exhibit is a collaboration of staff in the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library, the College of Engineering Computer Aided Engineering Network and the Digital Media Commons.

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