Cronkite memorial to receive new additions

By Mika Cummins

April 16, 2014

The Walter Cronkite memorial in Spratt Hall will be receiving several new additions over the next several months. Dean and Executive Director Gordon Mapley said several additions will be added as well as new things for a viewing experience. All new features will be an extra attraction for those visiting the memorial. A show about space is projected to be the first to be added. Cronkite was a very strong supporter of the space program, so the show will feature narration by Cronkite and will utilize the full-dome experience of the Planetarium. The show is to be played there for the next 50 years. Dr. Rob Vartabedian is deciding between the final two choices and is set to make his decision sometime within the next week. "We are going to be having a Planetarium show that's narrated by Walter Cronkite," Mapley said. "So when tours come...we're going to be able to say to them, 'Oh would you also like to go over to the Planetarium show?' We're actually already taking reservations because we know we'll have that ready." A third component will be added to the main kiosk. The component will display historical events, featuring video and commentary from Cronkite. A person can click on a picture on they can listen to two corresponding pieces of commentary, one being the actual news coverage and the other being "Cronkite Remembers." The footage in "Walter Cronkite Remembers the 20th Century" was taken from interviews conducted between 1990 and 1993 as a part of a biography. "In addition to that, we are adding a new kiosk," Mapley said. "We've been using a little television screen for this chamber piece that, years ago, Cronkite came to town and made a presentation at the chamber. So, we're going to do away with the television which was kind of a temporary deal until we got the new kiosk in." Professor of history and chair Steven Greiert is going to be creating a multimedia piece over the summer to be put on display for the fall. Walter Cronkite: A Live Multimedia Performance is another new addition being added. The performance will be a one-man show as an actor will portray Cronkite as he responds to questions asked during a filmed interview from 2002. "We've taken an interview that Cronkite had with Larry King," Mapley said. "Larry King used to interview prominent people, and one of the prominent people he interviewed was Walter Cronkite. He interviewed Walter Cronkite on September 9, 2002 which was a year after 9/11. Some part of the interview is dealing with Cronkite's views of 9/11. Then also while he was being interviewed, Larry King asked Walter Cronkite other questions about his career and the high points of his career." A bronze bust, that was originally made from clay by Instructor of Art Eric Fuson is in the process of being made bronze and is planned to be added. "Eric Fuson has done a phenomenal job capturing the likeness of Mr. Cronkite," Mapley said. "Members of the family and administrative assistant have all looked at it and critiqued it. He's made changes and they've critiqued again....We want this to be perfect." Finally, people close to Cronkite are going to be donating several new memorabilia for a second display case. "Family members, acquaintances and other folk who have various things that they would like to donate are donating pieces," Mapley said. "For example, in the summer, the woman who was Cronkite's administrative assistant for a number of years, she has a number of items stored in her summer home, in the attic. So once summer comes, and she moves to her summer home, she will go to her attic and find a number of pieces that she thinks we might be able to use." As of right now, the memorial has been made solely through donations, although that is always subject to change with future additions. Keep an eye on the Cronkite memorial for new additions coming soon!