At student semester reviews, faculty pulled the best of student
work to make record slides. This practice is extremely important
as the slides can be used as teaching aids, for recruitment
or lectures at other institutions or presentations in the
community. We used the slides to keep administrators abreast
of what was happening in the program or as credentials in
soliciting funding for community or research projects. The
slides were important in curricula planning as the faculty
could lay out slides representing work for the entire year
on a large light table. We could see where we needed to put
more emphasis, inject new course content or change sequence.
Student work records are an invaluable asset for any program.
It is also good to keep an updated file on faculty work.
Design Alumni Records
At The Minneapolis School of Art and The Kansas City Art Institute,
I kept alumni records and lost track of only three students
over a twenty year period. We started to keep alumni records
at Arizona State University but my tenure there was too short
to be effective. My experience has been that alumni records
are of immense value to the ongoing program. Alumni proved
to be the most effective means for placing students after
were scattered over the entire country and with a phone call,
you could obtain information regarding hiring in that area.
Or, graduates working for firms that were hiring would call
me to say there were jobs available. Every two years we published
the list of alumni and mailed it out to them. Most would stay
in contact with the program because they wanted each new listing.
Graduates who wanted to work in a particular location would
look in the alumni listing to find if any previous graduate
was working there. If so, they could call them, make inquiry,
or contact them when they arrived to look for work. Often
it was a place to sleep even though a davenport while they
were interviewing. As many students had found their first
job through this avenue, they were always willing to help
a new graduate.
In time, alumni were working in a variety of design capacities
throughout the country, and frequently we brought them back
to the school to talk to students. Alumni have a credibility
with students that makes these visits worthwhile.
passed out alumni forms to each Senior prior to graduation.
The key question on the form was to list a phone number for
parents or a relative that would always know where they were
though every institution has an alumni office, it is best
done within the program. It is important that any records
done within the department are passed on to the institutional
alumni office. They are always pleased with the assistance
and are cooperative when you need something from their office.
I usually had a work-grant student each year who kept the
At Arizona State University, we published a newsletter in
conjunction with the alumni program. The newsletter was not
only an added incentive for alumni to stay in contact, but
it was also an excellent promotional tool both within and
outside the university. We used it for recruitment and promotional
purposes. On a larger scale, I think it would be excellent
if all Graphic Design programs could publish a newsletter
once a year as a means of better knowing what is going on
at all the different institutions.
During the early 1960s, the Graphic Design program at The
Minneapolis School of Art was in its formative stages. New
faculty and courses were being added each year. At the same
time, the school was in the throes of making the transition
from a non-accredited to an accredited institution. Any changes
in program had to go through a Curriculum Committee rather
than just the Director. The committee was composed mainly
of Fine Arts personnel and they were not altogether pleased
with the expansion of the Graphic Design program. At least
once or twice each year, I would go before the Curriculum
Committee to request changes or additions in the credits or
curricula of Graphic Design. The committee was becoming increasingly
annoyed with the constant changes, and each new proposal became
more difficult to get approved.
desperation, and with fingers crossed, I went before the committee
with the proposal that we have only one listing for Graphic
Design for each semester of the three years. Nine credit courses
in the Sophomore year, twelve credit courses in the Junior
year and Senior year. If the Curriculum Committee would approve
this proposal, there would be no need for Graphic Design to
come before the committee again. They approved it.
a large block of credits each semester, the faculty divided
the hours into separate courses. The significance of this
was that students failing any class within the block failed
the entire course. This pressured students to put effort into
all their classes and not concentrate on just those they favored.
This arrangement gave us maximum flexibility in using the
time. We could teach one subject a shorter length of time
and teach another course the balance of the semester. We could
extend or contract time allocation within a class depending
on student progress. We could team-teach or combine classes
without complications. Student evaluation was done through
review by the entire faculty. In order that individual faculty
integrity could be maintained, it was agreed that any one
faculty member could fail the student. This option was exercised
only two or three times over a twenty year period, and then
with the concurrence of other faculty members.
Lustig had once commented that teachers often complained about
the inability of students to grasp the interrelationships
between the different areas of design, but the educational
system itself pigeonholed different subjects with separate
classes, grades and teachers. Our experience with block scheduling
with one grade for several courses did help students to better
understand interrelationships. It helped us to be more effective
in evaluating students as we could point out qualities in
one area that were not applied to another. We could better
identify weaknesses and strengths in student work and it brought
the faculty closer together as a team. This is the most productive
scheduling system in my experience. We also used the same
block schedules at The Kansas City Art Institute and it worked
equally as well. Even though the block system of scheduling
is sound and works, it is difficult to implement at most schools
and nearly impossible at state institutions.
state schools, a variation of this practice was to set aside
one day of a class meeting three times a week to teach a mini-course
in another subject. For some lectures or courses it was possible
to use the last hour of one class period to do the same. This
strategy is particularly useful at state universities where
it is time-consuming and difficult to add new courses to the
curriculum. At state institutions, it is perhaps quicker and
easier to extend hours and credits in an existing course than
to put a new one in the catalogue. The extended classes can
then be broken down into two or more courses. My experience
has been that it takes two to five years to add a new course
to the curriculum in state schools.