Kent State’s ‘Hidden Gem’ Celebrates 25 Years

The Student Multimedia Studio celebrated its 25th Anniversary at Kent State University as a place providing a clear focus on student success

If you frequent the Kent State University Library for Starbucks and studying, you may not have noticed you were within feet of one of the most important resources for students on campus. The Student Multimedia Studio (SMS) on the first floor provides a space for academic and creative play for students, faculty and staff.

Originating as the Student Multimedia Development Lab in 1998, the studio has evolved exponentially from a small “closet” on the third floor to the high-tech makerspace it is today. The original iteration of the lab primarily provided high-speed computers and internet services, which were emerging technologies at the time.  

The studio celebrated its 25th anniversary and 10 years of 3D printing on Feb. 14 at the “Making KSU Sweeter for 25 Years” event. Students, faculty and staff were welcome to take photos, explore the space and grab treat bags. The first 100 visitors were also able to enjoy a treat from Daisy Pops, a local cake pop bakery.

Student Multimedia Center 25 Anniversary snack table

“We’re kind of seen as a ‘hidden gem’ on campus,” said Hilary Kennedy, head of the Student Multimedia Studio. “Even though we’re in such a prominent, established space, a lot of people don’t even know that we’re here.”

On hand at the event was the original studio manager, Gary Mote, a retired assistant professor. He said the studio started as a place to support the creation of presentations by students, and then it expanded support to faculty. Later, it expanded to nearly every academic discipline.  

Student Multimedia Center Photobooth featuring Hilary Kennedy and Gary Mote
Gary Mote and Hilary Kennedy

Student workers, otherwise known as multimedia consultants, are in the studio daily to provide peer-to-peer interactions to support student projects and take students through the processes of its resources.  

“Not only is the SMS student-centered, as multimedia consultants, students always played a huge role not only in its everyday operation but also in providing critical input for development and expansion,” Mote said.

One thing that has not changed is providing students with accessible technological resources.  

Student Multimedia Center Photobooth set up

The studio houses podcasting and editing studios, 3D printing and many more resources for Kent State students.  

“This event was just our small way for us to say thank you to the university community. We are grateful to have been a solid resource within University Libraries for 25 years. I am personally appreciative of Gary Mote, the founder of the SMS, who laid the solid groundwork for the studio and created a culture of collaboration and innovation in the studio,” Kennedy said.  

Mote reflected on the evolution of the studio and how it has changed since he managed the establishment and the start of the space.  

“How fortunate I was to have been able to choose the path I took. Becoming involved with students and faculty in ways that I had never imagined was just so fulfilling and satisfying,” Mote said.

Students pose at the Student Multimedia Studio 25th annivesary photo booth

Kennedy welcomed guests, reminisced with Mote and reflected on the benefits the studio has for Kent State students.  

“We strive to keep pace with the advancements in technology and the changing needs of our users. If anything, this anniversary is simply a mile marker to show how far we have come and to motivate us to set a new pace for the next leg,” Kennedy said.  

Student Multimedia Center 25th Decorations

Sonya Wisdom, Ph.D., associate professor of science education at Kent State, said the studio has elevated her classes.  

“I don’t think people really realize the value of the studio in the classroom,” Widsom said.  

A multimedia consultant said the current trend is the 3D printers, they are the most popular equipment that draws students in.  

“We have three 3D printers right now. It’s a great way to give back to the school and to the students because it’s something we do completely free of charge,” Alyssa Coyle, a senior photography major and multimedia consultant said.  

Coyle said the studio staff is available to act as liaisons for the space and its visitors.  

“I’m there for any students using our space to talk about and walk them through how to use all of our equipment,” Coyle said.  

“It makes my heart happy to have been able to employ so many talented student employees over the years," Kennedy said. "They are truly what makes the SMS a welcoming, vibrant, meaningful space for our users.”

Learn more about the Student Multimedia Studio.

Reserve facilities or equipment.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 20, 2024 12:47 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 21, 2024 05:56 PM
Macy Rosen, Flash Communications
Macy Rosen and the SMS photo booth