Georgia first lady Sandra Deal, who attended the ceremony, chose February as the month when she and Gov. Nathan Deal would concentrate on juvenile justice problems.
The couple has been working together to help rewrite the juvenile justice code, which was established in 1971.
“We have a lot of problems to work on with our juvenile justice system,” she told a crowd of more than 30.
The center’s focus since opening a little over two years ago has been to collect any and all information on the topic and disseminate it nationally, Deal said.
“I think by sharing this information, we improve the lives of all our children, and that’s our goal in the first place, and I think you also make a good name for Kennesaw State,” she said. “We appreciate your efforts in this direction.”
The Center for Sustainable Journalism was moved from the KSU College of Humanities and Social Sciences building to a new location off Big Shanty Road just west of the university.
Leonard Witt, the program’s executive director and a journalism professor at KSU, said they were outgrowing their space and with the financial support from the university were able to afford the $450,000 renovation to expand to 2,700 square feet.
“I’m extremely pleased to dedicate this space,” Witt said. “This whole idea wouldn’t happen without Kennesaw State.”
The warehouse modifications were designed by HEERY International Inc. of Atlanta and completed by Centennial Contractors Enterprises Inc. of Reston, Va.
The center is home to the “Juvenile Justice Information Exchange” and “Youth Today,” which are both publications dedicated to bringing light to juvenile justice.
“We just got into covering juvenile justice at a great time because everyone, left, right, liberal, conservative, they all know it’s time for change, and the nice part about it is that you can make change,” Witt said.
They are studying and writing about rehabilitating young people who some may see as lost causes.
“I want to get rid of the whole idea of lock ‘em up and throw away the key and forget about them,” he said. “What we have been doing since we started this was to give voices and put a spotlight and get these kids out of the shadows.”
The center’s goal was initially to focus on issues in Georgia, but Witt said they quickly realized there was a “national hunger” for revitalizing the juvenile justice system.
They have six full-time employees and eight KSU students working at the local center, and Witt said they recently opened a New York City bureau with a $250,000, three-year grant from The Tow Foundation.
They anticipate opening others at universities in Montana, Maryland or Illinois.