I first began advocating a Professional Advisory Board at
the Kansas City Art Institute during the sixties. It was in
the 1980s at Arizona State University that we finally were
able to establish a professional board of advisors.
plan was to sign at least one member with a national or international
reputation and the others to be designers who work at a high
level in the profession. We could afford a board of three.
Two were ongoing members and the third position rotated.
strategy was to bring the advisors in several times a year
to meet with students and faculty, critique projects, lecture
or possibly give a project. The principal use of the Advisory
Board was at the end of the Spring semester when the entire
board would assemble at the school. At the year-end finale,
I would also invite the president of the local professional
organization to participate. We would install an exhibit of
student work from the entire year. Students would meet in
the morning with the board without faculty presence to discuss
the work and program. The board would meet with faculty during
the afternoon to discuss the work and curriculum. I wanted
to schedule lunch for the Department Head and Dean with the
board where they could pass on their recommendations and observations
regarding the Graphic Design program.
a good Professional Advisory Board adds status and credibility
to the program. It is good for faculty morale and provides
excellent role models for students. It is also useful in recruiting
when you can show that caliber of professional input into
the program. The board can convey to the Department Head and
Dean an outside viewpoint which often has more weight with
administrators than when the same message comes from the faculty.
The board was also helpful for both faculty and students in
making professional contacts.
board consisted of Jim Cross of Cross and Associates in Los
Angeles, Steve Holler, Director of Visual Communications for
Raychem Corporation in San Francisco, Jerry Herring of Herring
Design in Houston and Carl Miller, Graphic Designer at IBM
in San Jose.
considerable effort, we were able to put through an Adjunct
Professor appointment (without remuneration) for Jim Cross
and he offered to teach a Senior seminar. We were unable to
get credit for the seminar, and students really did not know
the status of Jim Cross in the professional community so they
were unaware of the opportunity available to them. Consequently,
their attendance was not regular and productivity was erratic
at best. My guess is that the experience was not particularly
rewarding for Jim Cross.
other two members of the board came in once or twice a semester
to critique problems, lecture or meet with faculty. I was
never able to arrange lunch as our administrators always said
they were too busy. The Department Head never met with any
of our board members. This was a disappointing experience
but I think the concept was good and I would do it all over
minority of students select a school on the basis of program
quality or choose a program that fits their interests. Most
students will base their application on what they can afford
or what is convenient. Sometimes they will apply only to schools
they have heard about, a teacher or friend has recommended
the school, or someone they know attended that institution.
The reasons for picking an institution are often superficial
to educational goals. There is an assumption by most students
that one degree in Graphic Design is as good as another, and
it is of little consequence which school they attend. This
is a dangerous presumption in any form of professional education.
the years I have interviewed with countless students, and
sometimes parents, about what school they should attend. My
impression is that most of them are vulnerable and they are
like sheep going to be fleeced. They do not know what questions
to ask, and what they want to hear from me is that our program
is the best one in the country.
or their parents should ask
enrollment in Graphic Design limited to a specific number
each year? If enrollment is not limited, it is likely
that there are more majors than can be accommodated at one
time and there will be competition to enroll in required classes.
This may result in a student having to spend one to three
extra years getting a BFA degree because of not being able
to enroll in required courses because they are full.
How many credits are required in Graphic Design
for a BFA? Any number of credits less than thirty-two
to forty is going to be insufficient preparation for a career
in Graphic Design. Ideally, there should be forty to fifty
credits in the major.
How many Graphic Design instructors? Any less
that four instructors means there is going to be a limited
curriculum and that the program is inadequately staffed. A
program with less than eighty majors can be effective with
three instructors. An ideal teacher/student ratio should be
about 1:15. There should be inquiry as to how many instructors
are part-time and there should be a reasonable balance between
full-time and part-time teachers.
Are majors taught separately from elective students?
If majors and elective students are taught together, it reduces
the class intensity and the educational experience for majors
will be less.
How many Graphic Design Majors in the program?
Are majors determined by student declaration or faculty acceptance?
Any number greater than one hundred and fifteen means that
courses are taught in more than two sections. If different
teachers are instructing in different sections of the same
course, there will be considerable inconsistencies which compound
as students progress through the program. The overall educational
experience will probably be less.
Do advanced students have fixed workspace?
Seniors require fixed workspace, and it is best if Juniors
can also have designated workstations. The availability of
fixed workspace contributes to the learning environment and
is a significant factor in student motivation and interaction.
What technical facilities are available and
under what conditions? Graphic Design majors require unrestricted
access to computers, xerographic and photographic facilities.
Computer literacy is a mandatory requirement for employment